Jan 7, 2020

New year, old challenges

A very Happy New Year and welcome to Drive Forward’s first project update of 2020!

Over the past year, we’ve seen so many young people thrive in their chosen careers and we want you, our wonderful supporter, to know that your commitment and support really matters to these young people.

“I never had to worry about travel money which was a serious issue sometimes, and food was always there, which was a big plus… I wish that more care leavers had this type of support… I wouldn’t have a job without it.”- Fathiya, 20

In 2019, over 400 care-experienced young people took advantage of the various services Drive Forward offers, exploring different careers and industries, building their confidence, self-esteem and skillset, and gaining valuable experience and insight through working with our corporate partners.

In terms of Closing the Gap, travel and food were the big issues your fantastic support was able to ease for care-experienced young people. Our Corporate Engagement team was able to make tremendous progress when negotiating work placement and internships for young people. Most of our corporate partners now have a better understanding of the financial burden care-experienced young people face when moving into employment and are willing to help individuals through reimbursing their travel and covering their lunch expenses. We are thrilled that our partners are leading the way to more inclusive recruitment and will continue to advocate for equal and fair practice in the sector. In the long run, we would be delighted to see a general shift in the mind-set of companies across the board, enabling all young people to pursue their careers regardless of their background.

Until then, however, we are grateful to have such fantastic supporters as yourselves working hard to enable care-experienced young people to follow their dreams. Thank you!

DeAndrae, 21

When DeAndrae started working with Drive Forward Foundation he was down to the last pound in his bank account after losing his job. He was in the process of cancelling phone and broadband contracts in order to save funds to being able to attend interviews and afford essential living expenses. As many care-experienced young people, DeAndrae is completely estranged from his family, which meant that he had no-one to turn to for help.

Being a very charming and employable young person with lots of experience in customer service, it was not long before a suitable opportunity came up. Together with his Employment Consultant Rachel, he identified an opportunity with Delfont Mackintosh theatre group. DeAndrae went for the interview and was over the moon to be offered the job. However, the introductory training was about to commence immediately and DeAndrae was struggling to afford the travel to get to it. He also needed smart clothing for his new role, another expense he had not anticipated.

It was your generous support that allowed DeAndrae to accept the job, buy new clothes, and travel to work at the beginning of his new role.

Ven, 19

Ven joined Drive forward in October last year, looking for a job that would accommodate to her responsibilitites as a single mother. Her experience of and passion for working with children encouraged her to look for teaching assistant roles. Van also thought that working for a local school would allow her to better juggle working and parenting. With no local opportunties available at the time, Van broadened her search and found an exciting opportunitiy in a SEN Catholic school. She applied and was successful! However, when Van realised that the cost of travel between her home and new workplace would exceed the amount availbale to her, she prepared to turn down the job. Lucky for her, Drive Forward was able to support her transition into the world of work with a one-month travel card enabling her to accept the job. Van started her position at the end of October and is still there today perfectly managing both work and being a caring parent.

Daniel, 19

Daniel dreams of being a proffessional footballer and is currently a promising amateur. He came to Drive Forward wanting to find a job which would allow him to train as well as to work at the same time. But Daniel was unsure of what it was that he wanted to do, so his Employment Consultant Justin took him to a jobs fair at a hotel which was advertising various roles in the hospitality industry. There he spoke to the Head of Catering who soon offered him a job on the spot!

The hotel, however, was located quite far away from Daniel’s house, causing him to doubt whether he would be able to afford travelling to work every day. Thanks to you and the Closing the Gap fund, Daniel did manage to make it to his early morning shifts at the hotel. Having started in early October, Daniel is still happy in his job today.

David, 20

David had been involved with gang activity and gang violence for a number of years and came to Drive Forward because he wanted to make a change in his life. He expressed an interest in construction, even though he had never done anything like that before. David had problems in various different areas in London, but his Employment Consultants found a place that he could attain a safety certificate (CSCS) in Romford which was a safe area for him.

David did not have the money to get to Romford for the four days of training but was desperate to attend so he could get his life back on track. Luckily, we were able to help David with this and enable him to finish his course and get his CSCS card along with other health and safety related qualifications.

 

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Oct 10, 2019

No goal is too ambitious!

Mixology course at The London cocktail Club
Mixology course at The London cocktail Club

What did you want to be when you were a child? A spy, firefighter… or maybe a doctor? And did you ‘realise’ your career ambitions?

Having worked with over 3000 young people over the past decade, our Employment Consultants have probably heard it all: from individuals striving to pursue traditional career paths in engineering, law or the fashion industry, to young people dreaming of one day becoming a pilot whilst studying accounting, as well as individuals set on achieving world fame as a professional cage fighter.

The goals and determination of the young people working with us truly have no limits and we’re eager to enable them to realise their full potential and pursue the careers of their own choice. Admittedly, our resources as a small charity are limited and we’re probably not the best place to support someone who wants to embark on a long-term career in professional sports. Nevertheless, we’ve built a network of over 25 business partners across London, all of whom are committed to the cause and dedicated to help individuals achieve their goals.

Our partners work across a vast variety of industries - from marketing and advertising, to hospitality, law, construction and engineering, financial services and creative design – and are therefore able to offer care-experienced individuals invaluable work experience and employment opportunities. Their belief in the potential of these young people enables them to offer insight into different sectors and career paths and allows the young people to gain the knowledge and experience needed to progress in their chosen careers.

As a longstanding Closing the Gap supporter, you are probably aware of the challenges a young person with a background in local authority care must face when moving into employment. And whilst our team are doing their best to support each individual in terms of building confidence and gaining the skills required to get the job, it is your continuous commitment and support that enables them to take up the opportunities that are in front of them and thrive.

Britney, for example, is 18 years old and living in a hostel in London. She only moved back to the city two years ago from Cambridge and is eager to progress, become independent and move into her own accommodation. Britney’s interests are varied, from song writing, to sports, from media to healthcare; but her ultimate goal is to own and run her own night club one day. Ambitious? Certainly. But not impossible!

So, what do you need to become a successful night club owner? A keen interest in business and administration, but also, some solid experience in the hospitality sector. Luckily for Britney, we’ve been working with the fantastic London Cocktail Club since the beginning of 2019. They hosted a hugely popular Aim Higher Day earlier this year which included a top-notch mixology course for participants. We didn’t need to convince Britney that the London Cocktail Club would be a great place for her to gain experience and take the first steps towards achieving her big dream. However, it wasn’t the lack of enthusiasm that almost hindered Britney from getting to the interview, but her lack of funds to afford the travel! This is where your generous support enabled her to get to the interview, impress our partners, complete a successful trial shift and nail the job! Furthermore, the Closing the Gap Fund enabled Britney to travel to and from work until receiving her first pay check at the end of the month without getting into dept.

We are looking forward to following Britney’s career and giving further support on her journey!

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Jul 11, 2019

When you can't afford travelling to work

Professional mingling
Professional mingling

It has been an exciting couple of months here at Drive Forward with 47 young people moving into employment, 22 continuing their education or training, and 50 individuals developing their skills during internships and work placements since the beginning of the year.

Without your vital support, many of these young people would not have been able to take this next step in their lives. Thank you for believing in them!

Karlon, 21

Karlon is one of many young people accessing Drive Forward in one of our service Hubs across London. Most of the care-experienced individuals working with us live quite a distance away from central London, and coming into our offices in Waterloo would cost them valuable time and money. That’s why, since 2014, our Employment Consultants have offered 1-2-1 employability and career support alongside Leaving Care Teams, Social Services and Job Centres across Greater London.

Two years ago, Lambeth Council decided to integrate our work into their own programme aimed at supporting care leavers into independence. The Step To Success Programme supports young people leaving care in Lambeth into sustainable employment, education and training. That’s how Employment Consultant Heaven met Karlon last year.

As he had been working before, Karlon knew what he wanted and was motivated to put in the effort. Their work together was therefore very much focused on finding suitable employment for Karlon to enjoy and progress in.

He started an apprenticeship in formwork earlier this year, and so far, is enjoying the experience and the job very much.

„I’ve worked in construction before, but I didn’t have a job for quite a while. So, I’m still getting used to waking up early in the morning and stuff like that. I’m slowly getting the hang of it.“

However, before getting this job the 21-years-old was on Universal Credit, which left him with £250 per month to budget for everything apart form rent. „I’ve been in quite a bit of debt for quite a bit of time... And sometimes you do end up running out of that £250... like two weeks or one week before you get paid.“ In those cases, Karlon would have to go and ask for help from friends and family, which made him feel a little bit embarrassed.

When Karlon started his apprenticeship, he found his workplace being in one borough and his college being at the other end of the city, facing a potential cost of £6.20 per day in travel only. Being on UC, he would have been unable to commit to the job. Knowing of his financial situation, Heaven preempted this potential challenge and offered Karlon support from the Closing the Gap fund.

„I didn’t have that much money for me to afford to go to college and back... When I said that I needed money for travel, Heaven has actually given it to me, without saying anything about me having to pay it back! ... That helped me a lot and I was on time for my college and never turned up late, or didn’t turn up at all because I didn’t have the money.“

Andrea, 21

After a gruelling and intense interview process which involved multiple applications, phone interviews, face-to-face interviews and presentations, Andrea gained a prestigious internship with the Scottish Government Offices in London.

But Andrea’s journey hasn’t always been that smooth. When she joined Drive Forward, the then 20-year old felt stranded; „At that time, I was stuck; I was at a point where I could not move forward on my own. I needed help.“ She had just dropped out of university (due to financial as well as wellbeing issues) and had no idea where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do.

„When I met my Employment Consultant Nicholl in January, we immediately got to work. She helped me explore my interests and career aspirations and gain a better idea of where I wanted to go. We began working on my CV and writing role-specific cover letters; and before an interview, we would meet and she would coach me 1-2-1 to help me present the best version of myself.“

After only 2 months of working with us, Andrea was offered a paid internship with Hill+Knowlton Strategies -a global public relations consulting company.

„I got to work within the healthcare and sports sector. I got to learn about various pharma companies, was involved with the campaigning of various health care events for things such as Rare Disease Day. I also got to help with the preparations for Adidas campaign for the women's world cup adverts!“

With this and some other experiences in the bag, Andrea was a perfect fit for the Admin Support Internship with the Scottish Government in London.

But after the initial elation, Andrea then quickly realised that she had no money to travel to work before her first pay day. Instead of Andrea having to bring this issue to her brand new employer, DFF were able to provide Andrea with the money through the Closing the Gap Fund.

„It falls within my responsibilities to ensure that everybody within the organisation is able to do their jobs as smoothly as possible. I’m responsible for managing the room booking system; I manage the Director’s calendar, keep an eye on stationary stocks etc. I have further gained experience in event management, facilitate well-being activities for staff (Office Yoga!) and administer payments. I even met the Scottish Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans!“

Mercedez, 24

Mercedez is 24 years old, lives in North London, and is currently doing fantastically at a summer work placement with our new corporate partners at Superdrug.

Put into care at the age of 16, the young woman had her fair share of troubles and challenges in life. Nevertheless, she managed to gain and sustain several jobs over the past couple of years including admin, retail and bartendering roles. Her experience, natural and polite demeanor made her the perfect candidate for a brand new internship programme with Superdrug, which has been developed around the needs and career aspirations of each young person. In Mercedez‘ case, she is working with the Business Development team, to learn more about the ins and outs of a large retail company.

Upon starting the placement, Mercedez had been in touch with her Employment Consultant expressing her anxieties and serious concerns that she may have to turn the opportunity down regardless of how hard she worked to get it (doing a Skype interview all the way from Jamaica!) and what it could do for her future career prospects.

It is thanks to your fantastic support, that Mercedez didn’t have to miss out on this opportunity she so genuinly deserved.

1-2-1 support
1-2-1 support

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