Mar 31, 2021

New Year, Old Challenges, More Successes

Starting successfully into 2021 - Florida
Starting successfully into 2021 - Florida

In memory of our founder

As some of you will be aware, our founder, Martha Wansbrough, passed away from cancer in January. Martha worked with disadvantaged young people for over 20 years, first in Russia and then the UK. She believed passionately in our mission at Drive Forward to enable care-experienced young people to achieve their full potential through sustainable and fulfilling employment. She put the young people we support at the heart of everything. Her dedication meant that she worked throughout her illness, right up the end - securing new funding, finding employment opportunities and ensuring our young people had the support they needed during the pandemic. 

We are grateful for the support we received from our community and will honour her memory by continuing to fight for and support care-experienced young people with the same passion and dedication as Martha. 

Driving Forward 

The past three months have seen a lot of reflection as well as innovation and creation. All the recent challenges have brought our team closer together, enabling us to innovate, improve, and in increase our impact in the future. 

For the young people working with us, the past year has been an extremely challenging time, where they had to acknowledge Covid’s combined impact of unemployment and social isolation. We have seen more of them taking advantage of our bespoke counselling service, enabling them to develop and practice effective coping strategies. 

Starting successful into the new year 

Most of the young people who had gained an internship with the Civil Service last year have now successfully started their roles across multiple government departments. In addition to providing ongoing 1-2-1 support through our Employment Consultants, Drive Forward has also developed a tailored training programme working with line-managers, young people, and corporate professionals. Young people are offered practical skills training around basic IT (Excel, Power Point...), workplace etiquette, communication and presentation, as well as the ins and outs of civil service working culture. Line-manager, on the other hand, are presented with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills in order to pursue a trauma-informed management approach. 

Kickstarting young careers 

In response to the stark rise of youth unemployment and the long-lasting impact of the pandemic on the jobs market, the government launched the Kickstart Scheme last year. The £2 billion initiative provides financial incentives to employers ready to offer quality 6-months placements for young people aged 16-24. 

So far, a total of 23 care-experienced young people working with drive Forward have been successful in gaining a placement. 

“I would have never been able to master how to prepare for an interview if it were not for DFF and in doing so, the confidence freed me of the nerves.” - Tom, 22, Camden 

On top of our efforts to support young people making the most of this opportunity to get back on track with their careers, we’ve been working closely with our partners across London councils as well as the corporate sector, encouraging them to sign up to the scheme. Understanding the multiple challenges care-experienced young people face and they exacerbating impact of the crisis, most of our partners are now topping up the government’s contributions to offer kickstart participants London Living wage. This enables even those young people living in expensive semi-independent accommodation to take up these opportunities. 

Florida’s Story 

Following a placement with our partners at Discover AI, Florida went on to complete a placement with our partners at Baringa, a London-based management consultancy. The experiences she made increased her confidence and gave her knowledge that supported her to obtain a post working as a Business and Transformation intern at the NHS working with CAHMS, which she is to start in April. 

Florida remembers her work placement at Baringa: 

“My experience at Baringa really will help me with the new role I have just been offered and makes me feel more excited and prepared.  Angel and Alice were so encouraging and hearing their story of how they got to where they are inspired me and means I don’t feel too scared to “jump in”. Going to NHS in a year-long internship now follows on and has shaped more about what I feel I can do with my future. I can be more confident after having the experience with Baringa. Overall, I realised I had a real interest in HR and they showed me different aspects of this that I never knew, the best things were working with Angel and being able to talk with her about how she managed to get where she was, also being able to talk to the team.  

They showed me different aspects of HR – before that I thought HR was just “one thing” but it was when I found out more about the Learning and Development side, I thought this sounds like what I want to do. (She) broke it all down for me and also told me about her journey and something clicked with me. She was very encouraging as I thought there was no way I could take that on as a Mother, but talking to her everything seemed possible and it made me feel confident and she told me I could always email her to ask for advice.  

Everyone was very friendly and people came and had discussions with me, always open to answer any questions. I was so Interested to see how things were running in the business – I feel like I got to know Baringa a lot I only wish I could have stayed longer as there was so much I learnt. I also found out how to do the payslips and accounts which I feel will also directly relate to my new job that I have been offered so it was really helpful.  It is so good to be pushed to do things when there is a purpose to it – you learn so much more that way rather than just being at home knowing you need to practice excel but when you are in a situation when there’s a purpose and you can see the relevance it’s amazing how much more you can take in.  

I also liked how they were being so diverse and treated me an equal, and so many people made me feel so included and keen to answer my questions. I wanted to see how things were run and to attend meetings and presentations, so in a short time I felt I got to know Baringa a lot. I also loved the “lunches” always getting to speak to someone interesting.  

I also got help with my LinkedIn profile – this was so helpful; and what they did with my CV was amazing and told me what to emphasise. So much help was given to me to me in meetings, I felt I got to taste every single bit of the business – just wish it was longer as there is so much to take in and so much going on. Interesting – really seemed to cater for my needs and my interests. Angel and Alice whole environment, everyone was really cool. I felt it was really bespoke and people were always checking in on me. Was able to pick their brains and was good to see so many women in the organisation as well.” 


Our Founder Martha Wansbrough
Our Founder Martha Wansbrough
Going into the Civil Service (2019-20)
Going into the Civil Service (2019-20)


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!


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


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