At Drive Forward Foundation we are united around a belief that every young person deserves the chance to achieve their potential. Unfortunately, for care-leavers in the UK this is all too often not the case. These young people face a wide range of challenges including: financial and housing related instability, lack of positive and effective support, few or no professional networks and low self-esteem. The NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate amongst care-leavers aged 16-26 remains unacceptably high (around 40%) and Drive Forward’s mission is to empower our clients to obtain sustainable careers they feel passionate about.
My role is to engage businesses and organisations in providing opportunities for care-leavers. This could be in the form of an internship, insight day or full time job. Consultation on recruitment processes and how they can be made more accessible, is a growing service we offer, as more and more employers disrupt traditional and narrow recruitment methods, in favour of building a more diverse and representative workforce.
Building professional relationships
Successfully matchmaking our young people to the right roles and sectors couldn’t be achieved without Drive Forward staff having built up close and trusting relationships with them. Our team of employment consultants are at the heart of our relationship building, using compassion, consistency and goal-creating to progress their clients. For care-leavers, this tailored support often comes as a refreshing change from the milieu of more pressurised interactions they have with Job Centres and other professionals tasked with their care.
Given time and the right support, we see individuals transform beyond all expectations. Young people who have been long-term unemployed, battling mental health issues and poverty, have gone on to secure challenging roles in government, finance, law, advertising…the list goes on. They have set up their own businesses, created incredible art, and used their experiences to empower others.
It is not enough to simply push jobs at care-leavers. Soft skills must be built up, to ensure that our clients can communicate, problem-solve and show leadership, with the resilience and emotional intelligence today’s job market requires. This requires creative thinking on our part, and I believe that smaller charities often possess the potential for reactive and fast change in services to suit the needs of their clients. This is because change can occur without burdensome levels of bureaucracy, and also because staff involved in strategy are those same staff working everyday on the frontline, with fresh knowledge of what is going on ‘on the ground’.
Find out more about Drive Forward.