Please rethink the decision to take away our Pathways EMA

Dear Minister Farry,

We are reading this letter to you on behalf of young people, like us, who take part in Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme each year.

Young people join Give and Take for lots of reasons – school hasn't worked for us, we have been in care, we are young parents, we've been in trouble with the police, we've experienced health related or other difficulties in our lives.

We didn't realise we had potential but the Give and Take Scheme has helped my confidence to grow. We now realise we can have dreams and goals just like other young people. The Give and Take scheme helps us to gain skills and qualifications so we can then move on to college or into a job.

In 2012 you recognised that young people like us were working just as hard as other young people at tech or college. You recognised that we had a right to be treated equally and you brought in the Pathways EMA.

The amount is probably small to lots of people, but to each of us it made a big difference. For example, lots of us use it to help with essentials like electricity, bills or rent. Some of us use it to help buy things for our young children like nappies or baby food. Some use it to buy groceries, food, and credit on our phones. Most of all, this EMA allowance was there to motivate us to learn and succeed. It made us feel that our efforts were equally recognised.

All young people have the right to be treated equally and not to be discriminated against, as well as the right to be provided with effective education and training, including vocational education and training.

Without warning at the end of March our training allowance was cut by the Department of Employment and Learning. You said that this was because the money for it had dried up. This decision makes us feel discriminated against, irrelevant and worried. Most of all, it makes us feel unequal to other young people our age.

The government says young people like us need the most support and have the greatest challenges to overcome in order to get a job. We know the government has less money than before, but is it fair that we are the young people who are getting our support cut? Is it fair that we are the ones who are being made to suffer in this way?

In fact, it's not just us who are being treated in this way, young people on other programmes like Give and Take are being affected by this decision. Please, rethink the decision to take away our EMA. It was only up to £25 a week but it meant we were treated equally with all other young people our age.

Thank you for listening to us.