More than £10m will be invested in the North-East from National Lottery funds to tackle the region’s chronic youth unemployment.
The Wise Group, a social enterprise, has been awarded £8.7m from the Big Lottery Fund to work across the region in County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Meanwhile, youth charity The Prince’s Trust has received £1.4m to focus solely on Middlesbrough, one of the worst areas for young joblessness.
In December there were 4,900 people aged 18 to 24 in the North-East claiming jobseekers’ allowance for more than 12 months.
Meanwhile, a total of 53,000 16 to 24-year-olds were out of work in September last year, according to the latest figures.
By linking the private sector, charities and other partners, the Big Lottery Fund’s Talent Match initiative aims to help 18 to 24-year-olds out of work or education for at least 12 months find new career opportunities.
In Middlesbrough, efforts will focus on the Gresham, University, Middlehaven, North Ormesby and Brambles Farm, Thorntree, Pallister, Park End and Beechwood areas, regarded as the town’s most deprived wards.
Anne-Marie Wadsworth, of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Talent Match will support long-term unemployed young people in Middlesbrough, by matching them with a dedicated mentor who will help boost their confidence and skills, and support them back into the workplace.
It will work in partnership with ASDA Import Centre, CfBT Education Trust, Erimus Housing, Middlesbrough College, Middlesbrough Council, Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency, Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, The Junction Foundation and West Middlesbrough Neighbourhood Trust.
Councillor Len Junier, who represents North Ormesby and Brambles Farm, said: “Like many other areas we have been badly affected by austerity measures, more so because we are already starting from a lower base.
“The young people here, many of them are quite demoralised even though there is some brilliant work going on to help them," he added.