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:

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.

 

Links:

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!

Links:

 
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