I’ve been supporting young people for 6 years now, and I love it. I’ve been in different roles since being at Look Ahead such as a Support Worker and Team Leader, and now as an Education, Training and Employment (ETE) Coordinator.
I work closely with all our young people in Tower Hamlets and serve as the link between the community and the support from the service. All of our young people have bright futures ahead but might not know the opportunities that are available to them. And more importantly may not have had support in the past to encourage them to achieve.
I do anything from working with businesses in the community to find jobs to chatting with young people at the service about their aspirations for the future. Here in Tower Hamlets there are loads of gyms, retailers, sport centres, Princes Trust, food services that we work with to provide work experience for young people. I send out a monthly newsletter reaching all 70 of the young people we support at any given time, making sure they know what is available to them.
Of course it’s important to have opportunities for young people, but even simply access can go a long way. If you’ve never seen a camera, it can be hard to imagine doing anything in photography. Equally if you haven’t seen the inside of an office, it can be intimidating in the unknown.
Giving them a glimpse at what is possible can sometime be all they need to motivate them to save up for a camera or pursue a career in accounting. I’d love to work with corporates to be able to provide tours for some of our young people. Sometimes seeing it in person engages the imagination to believe that you can do it.
One thing that we are doing more of is workshops to develop and facilitate their passions. For example, we recently ran a 6 session art course with the help of Accumulate. Our young people were able to get help with model making and sketching.
Over the pandemic it’s been hard. Especially with the shops closing and retail moving to online, there are less and less opportunities for young people to get work experience. It’s becoming more and more competitive. Which means in my role I have to be even more creative about opening up doors in other industries beyond just retail.