Dec 2, 2020

With a little help from our friends

Happy Holidays
Happy Holidays

Welcome to our last report of 2020. This year has seen so many new challenges for everybody: young people, corporate partners, supporters like yourself, funders, and our team as well. 

In our last two reports we told you some heart-breaking stories of young people who were hit the hardest by the pandemic. They’ve lost their jobs or couldn’t start their placements; their scholarships were cancelled and they were stuck in inappropriate and insecure housing situations. Your support has allowed many of them to seek the help they needed in order to get through the summer. Thank you! 

With a little help from our friends 

We were very excited to see so many of our business partners put on their thinking hats and created engaging professional development workshops, career insight days, and fully fledged virtual work placements for young people working with Drive Forward Foundation. Skilled volunteers and mentors have also worked hard to keep individuals motivated and enable them to drive forward through the lockdown. 

“I really didn’t like being furloughed... I felt low all the time with nothing to do... The excel workshop was really good and kept me going.” - Monica, 23 

“The session with the dancer was good. I learned about dancing and acting and artists.” - Sian, 14 

“I was able to learn how specific procedures are put in place and the reason why. I was also able to learn on all platform how much you have to take in consideration from both parties. I also learned how a day-to-day role in each department. With its tech I got to learn each stage it takes to maintain the tech, as with making sure everyone wellbeing in a work place and different thing we have to understand… The best part I would say is the amount if different topics we learn in are short space of time is great because it covers everything.” – Tionne, 20 

Following career goals 

And so, we’re very happy that our young people are still able to pursue their career and life goals, thanks to dedicated supporters and partners like you. 

Whilst our young people had the opportunity to further their personal and professional development virtually, they are still facing the harsh reality of the current employment market. The UK is currently facing the highest youth unemployment rate since 2016. Almost 15% 16-24-year olds are unemployed, with vulnerable groups such as care leavers disproportionately affected. 

However, our team and young people are eager to beat the odds every single day and are prepared to go the extra mile to succeed. Since the beginning of the year:

  • 64 young people were able to move into employment including apprenticeships and part-time jobs;
  • 45 young people furthered their knowledge, skills, and experience completing work placements and internships;
  • 31 individuals seized the opportunity to progress in training and education. 

We’re further delighted to tell you that so far, over 50 (and still counting!) care-experienced young people working with us have been successful in applying for the 2020 Civil Service Care Leaver Scheme. The programme only started in 2016, when Drive Forward and the Department for Education created a work placement for one young person. Since then, we and our supporters within the civil service have worked hard for the scheme to gain more traction and in 2020 an overwhelming 17 government departments participated offering some 500 positions for care leavers across the UK! 

If you want to learn more about this and other initiatives please subscribe to our newsletter. 

 

Thank you for your ongoing support and believing in the potential of young people!

Links:

Aug 5, 2020

It's not over yet - beginning of recovery

Employment Consultant quote
Employment Consultant quote

"The unique issue that faces care leavers that might differ from other young people is the prevalence of lone living, and the lack of family support to tide them over during this period of uncertainty," - Rachel Neuer, Employment Consultant 

Rachel has been supporting care leavers into meaningful careers since 2016. Over the past couple of months, she has seen a massive shift in what young people need, the problems they have, and the available support to overcome them. 

  • From supporting them to apply for Universal Credit and ensure they won't fall into debt because they've lost their job due to COVID; 
  • to helping them weigh up the risks to their physical and mental health should they look for employment during a global pandemic; 
  • to spending an hour on the phone to them to ease the acute sense of loneliness, isolation, and hopelessness many of them are experiencing. 

In a recent blog post, Rachel highlights that business as usual is not an option, especially given the enormous impact the crisis has on individuals physical and mental health. 

"I’ve struggled with my depression and anxiety for a number of years and it tends to worsen as I feel demotivated or unable to get out and about." - M. 19, care leaver 

The crisis has forced us to change the way we engage with our young people; moving our support to video and phone calls, chats and webinars. All of these bring additional challenges: 

  • About ¼ of those working with us don’t have access to a stable internet connection, a laptop or smart phone; 
  • Many young people perceive video calls as invasive or even a threat to them; 
  • “zoom fatigue” is a common phenomenon when trying to motivate and engage young people over a prolonged period of time; 

Lockdown has forced us all to become more reflective, and this can be both invigorating but also challenging if there is trauma to be dealt with. Often, the challenges then don’t lie with the practical support, but with providing reassurance and offering hope that everything will be OK and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, Drive Forward has worked hard to keep our partners, mentors and volunteers engaged. Their enthusiasm and encouragement are truly invigorating:

  • Virtual skills buiding workshops (photography, dancing, acting, writing);
  • Business/Industry Insight days with our partners in tech, law, communications;
  • Virtual yoga and mindfulness;
  • virtual mentoring support;
  • virtual work placements;
  • and much more.

“I was very sceptic about a virtual experience with a business. This was great though. I learned so much. Milan (volunteer from Tideway) supported me with my CV, how to say things; he also gave me useful advice on interview prep; he gave me great insight into a working environment in general. Would recommend this to others, definitely.” – Yousif, 19 

Let me tell you a story 

Tany is a 21-years-old care leaver originally from Bristol. Coming to London for a fresh start, Tany was successful in applying for the Civil Service Care Leaver Internship Scheme last year and was supposed to start her new job at the beginning of this month. 
 
"I’ve been waiting on my security checks for a few months now so I’ve had to be doing temp work for multiple agencies to be able to get by." 
 
However, as the coronavirus hit the country, Tany couldn't find any more temp work. Also suffering from asthma, Tany is having to completely self-isolate throughout this crisis, which had her wonder how she is going to get through it financially, but also mentally. 
 
"I’ve struggled with my depression and anxiety for a number of years and it tends to worsen as I feel demotivated or unable to get out and about." 
 
Thanks to the generosity of our community, Tany managed to cover all her immediate costs, enabling her to focus better at looking after herself as well as the challenges that lie ahead. 

So, what's next? - Recovery! 

Over the past couple of months we've seen so many of our young people struggle, not only financially, but also mentally. Isolation, loneliness, uncertainty... all of these exacerbated the multiple issues care-experienced young people already had to deal with prior to the pandemic. Employment Consultants, volunteers, mentors and partners, we all pulled together to help our young people regain their strength, confidence and motivation. 

Every additional pound raised will go towards providing the support, tools, and networks these young people need to bounce back from what could be one of the most challenging years of their lives. Drive Forward support for young people includes: 

  • bespoke 1-2-1 support; 
  • virtual learning and skills development; 
  • recruitment of new corporate partners to increase career opportunities; 
  • continued financial assistance for those experiencing hardship; 
  • mentoring, counseling, advocacy support  

We know that the crisis isn't over and that for many young people the worst is yet to come. An economic recession, lack of employment opportunities, reduced social services... Thank you for your support and for believing in the potential of young people! 

Employment Consultant quote
Employment Consultant quote
Care Leaver quote
Care Leaver quote

Links:

Apr 8, 2020

Times have changed but the need remains

“Thank you so much I was freaking out thinking no one cared. I’m so grateful. You messaging me shows you thought about me in these hard times. I really do appreciate it.”  – Paige, 19, lost her job at a London cinema 

Coronavirus is on everyone’s lips and we fully support every effort being made to tackle this global crisis and keep people healthy and safe. This includes putting the necessary support systems in place to help those most affected overcome the challenges ahead of them. 

Young people with a background in foster care are particularly heavily affected by the effects of social distancing and isolation. Feelings of extreme loneliness, low self-esteem and helplessness can often become extremely over-whelming. 

Many of those working with us have further experienced severe financial hardship as a consequence of the chaos around them. They’ve lost their jobs, educational bursaries have not been paid, and with almost one million people applying for Universal Credit within just two weeks, they're really struggling to make ends meet.  

After having an honest conversation with our partners at GlobalGiving, we’re immensely grateful that we’re now able to offer these young people a helping hand by using the remaining funds from Closing the Gap. 

As a previous supporter you know how eager, driven and dedicated our young people are to find employment, progress in their careers and make a positive contribution to society. Their ambitions and enthusiasm haven’t changed and our team is doing everything in its power to continue to support them to drive forward. 

But right now, they need your help to get through this crisis. They need your help to stay motivated and keep their eyes focused on what lies beyond. 

By contributing to this project, you continue to make a lasting impact on care-experienced young peoples’ lives. And for that, we’d like to thank you with all our hearts.

 

Your Drive Forward Team. 

Learn more about how the current crisis affects young people's futures on our website. 

 

 

Here are some stories from young people you’ve helped make positive changes over the past months. 

Ven: a single mother with ambitions 

19-year-old Ven joined Drive Forward in October last year. Eager to move forward in life, this single mother was looking for a job opportunity that would allow her to build her skills and gain experience, whilst still being able to spend time with her child.  

Having always had a passion for working with children, Ven was particularly interested in teaching and education. Her Employment Consultant Justin suggested to her to look into teaching assistant opportunities, ideally in a school close to her home. So, they registered with websites and created job alerts, and after only a short while Ven began receiving interesting job opportunities in her inbox.  

Ven and Justin put a lot of effort into crating a professional CV and tailoring personal statements to individual roles. One opportunity in particular caught Ven’s eye: a teaching assistant role with a school that would see her support children with learning difficulties. Whilst being a full-time job, the school would provide her with enough flexibility to juggle both a job and being a mother. Ven knocked out a brilliant application and smashed the interview. She was super happy and excited about being offered this opportunity!  

The only downside was, that this particular school was located a bit further away from her home and Ven needed to get public transport in order to go to work. This would put additional financial pressure on Ven, who was already living a very humble life in order to best care for her child.   

With her child always coming first, Ven was prepared to turn down her dream job, due to the lack of funds to travel there!  

Lucky for Ven, you have provided Drive Forward with the necessary funds to help out. And so, Justin was able to pay for Ven’s travel for a whole month until she received her first pay check!  

Thanks to you, she started her job at the end of October. Ven is still there today, able to juggle her job and being a mother and is doing well at both. 

 

Dave: turning his life around 

Dave had been involved with gang activity and gang violence for a number of years. The 20-year-old had had his fair share of challenges and disappointments in life and came to join Drive Forward dedicated to making a real change in his life.  

He realised, that one of the things he needed to take control of was money. He wanted a stable job, with opportunities to progress, and to earn a reasonable living. At the same time, Dave understood that his past would be a challenge when it comes to applying for jobs. As a former gang member, he isn't able to go everywhere in London, or even just travel through certain areas.  

Together with his Employment Consultant, Dave looked into opportunities in construction. Whilst Dave had never done anything like that before, he was eager to learn more about the subject and give it a try. After a short while, they found a training provider where Dave could obtain a CSCS safety certificate.  

As the area has to be a safe location for David to travel to, it turned out to be further away from where the 20-year-old was currently living. Out of pocket, but desperate to attend, Dave asked Drive Forward what to do.  

With your gift, you gave Dave a chance to complete the course and start turning his life around. 

 

Dan: The early bird catches the worm 

Dan has dreams of being a footballer. The 19-yearls-old is already a high-level amateur and was looking for a job that would allow him to pursue both his training ambitions and further his career.  

With Dan not really knowing which career path to follow, Justin decided to take him along to a jobs fair, which was particularly promoting different roles within the hotel industry. Dan spoke to many people from various establishments learning about all the many different jobs available in the sector. His curious and approachable nature really came to the forefront and Dan made a couple of good impressions. After a while, he came to talk to the Head of Catering at Park Plaza and was offered a job on the spot!  

They were particularly looking for enthusiastic people willing to start their days early and join the hotel’s breakfast team. What looks like an absolute no-go to most 19-yearls-olds was just another challenge to be overcome for Dan. Prepared to get up and leave his house by 5am, Dan jumped at the opportunity eager to prove his commitment to succeed.  

The only thing Dan was slightly concerned about was how to get to work on time whilst not having to spend too much money as he had to wait several weeks to receive his first salary in the bank.  

Thanks to you, Justin was able to offer Dan his first month of travel, allowing him to not only make his shifts on time, but to become a valuable member of the Park Plaza team. Dan was offered another role shortly after starting his job; this time with kinder hours  

 

Thank you for believing in their potential! 

Links:

 
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