Feb 16, 2018

Thanks for Closing the GAP last Christmas

Aaron is proud and happy at his new job!
Aaron is proud and happy at his new job!

We know it’s cheesy, but let us start this project report with a huge THANK YOU and a round of applause! “Care Leavers this Christmas” has been the most successful crowdfunding campaign Drive Forward has run so far:

  • We reached our initial 5-week goal of £2,000 in only 12 hours on GivingTuesday
  • Over the course of 5 weeks, you helped us raise over £6,000
  • You are one of 44 unique donors
  • One person is supporting the project on a regular basis giving monthly

And there is more good news to be shared: Last year, GlobalGiving awarded us a Community Grant towards our “Closing the Gap – Empower Care Leavers in London” project. This meant that any donations made towards this project, as well as towards “Care Leavers this Christmas”, were matched 100%! Therefore, your fantastic support didn’t just raise £6,000 from 44 donors, but in effect you raised £12,000 to enable young care leavers in London to become participating and contributing members of society.

Here are some of their stories.

Sephora, 22

Read the full story here.

When Sephora, aged 22, first stepped through the Drive Forward doors in the summer of 2017, her first thoughts were “will they really be able to help me with what I am looking for?” Young people leaving the care system are referred often from one service to the next and not all are able to help them or deliver on promises.

Sephora had just quit working for a care agency, which she had been engaged with since she left care at 18. As a mother of a then 5-year-old, the uncertainty around changeable hours and flexible work times had become too much to handle. She turned to her social worker for advice and was recommended to get in touch with Drive Forward. Sephora wanted to start a new career, which would allow her to establish a stable environment for her daughter. She was looking for a 9-5 job, ideally close to her home as well to her daughter’s school. She started working with Heaven, one of our Employment Consultants, who encouraged her to look at industries and jobs the young mother hadn’t considered before. This included a brand-new opportunity with one of our new partners.

We had just finished consulting with the Children’s Commissioner’s Office to design an apprenticeship scheme accessible for, and tailored to, the specific requirements of care leavers.

When Heaven first suggested the Business Admin Apprenticeship to Sephora, she was unsure. It was outside of her comfort zone as she had not been in an office environment before. However, boosted by Heaven’s belief in her and knowing that she wouldn’t have to go through the application process alone, she decided to go for it and was delighted when she learned that her application had been successful.

There was one last hurdle to face: starting full-time work. Sephora was no longer eligible for housing benefit and had one month to wait until her first pay cheque. She had bills to pay, travel, clothes and food for her and her daughter to think about.

Thanks to your fantastic support, Sephora wasn’t left on the back foot. She was able to budget ahead, instead of scraping by and getting into debt before she had hardly begun.

Three months into the job, Sephora describes her experience:

“It is amazing, it is going really well, I am learning a lot daily… just how the office works… I am happier… Before I worked for a care agency and I did not know if I would have a job from one day to the next. I have a 7-year-old child. There are certain things you have to be able to provide for your home and it is hard to provide these things… I am more relaxed and I have 25 days’ holiday… I can plan for things.”

Aaron, 20

Read the full story here.

Aaron’s career goal is to set up his own business in multi-trading doing plumbing, pipework, decorating, electrics, residential and commercial, a trade he has learnt about from his step-father. When he joined Drive Forward in September last year, Aaron was highly motivated and eager to progress in his career. Together with his Employment Consultant Rachel, Aaron identified work and training opportunities in the building and construction sector and completed a couple of applications. After a short while, Aaron was invited to interview with a newly established construction company and promptly got the job!

Like so many young people working with Drive Forward, Aaron had been classified as NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training), which means that he was relying on social benefits. Signing an employment contract, however, put him into a situation where one the one hand, he was no longer eligible for Job Seekers Allowance or housing benefit, whilst on the other hand, not having received his first month’s pay check yet. Thus, he was facing the challenge of tackling a period of three weeks without any financial incomings.

Closing the Gap made a huge difference to my life. When I started my current job, there was a period of three weeks where I hadn’t been paid anything. Obviously, I’m expected to get to work, which costs money, and the job centre told me ‘You’re working now, so we don’t have anything to do with you anymore.’ That’s where Closing the Gap has really helped me, covering my travel as well as other things like food and clothes.”

Aaron started working in late October and loves his new job. He keeps his end goal in mind and still engages in the various after-work activities we offer at Drive Forward to boost his professional and personal development.

“When I’m older I want to have my own business in multi trade. I want to be able to do brick laying, plastering, electrics, plumbing… I had this dream ever since I was 12 years old that by the time I retire, I want to move to Hawaii and build my own house. Yes, I’m going to build my house in Hawaii!”

Nikki, 22

Nikki is a graduate with a first-class degree in Human Rights and Politics from Colchester University. She has been unemployed since completing her degree and came to Drive Forward for help and advice around her CV and finding a job.

Going through different options available to graduates in her field, Nikki decided to apply for a graduate internship specifically aimed at care leavers with the Civil Service. Whilst we supported her throughout the application process and helped her prepare for the interview, Nikki showed a lot of initiative attending our employability skills workshops and sessions with corporate partners, developing her competencies and learning about tools like the STAR technique.

Nikki made it through to the final stages of the process, but unfortunately did not get the position with the civil service. However, she remained resilient and started working as a Christmas temp at the prestigious Fortnum & Mason’s shop in Charing Cross.

Nikki was desperate to work, but was cut off from receiving Job Seekers Allowance on starting her role. On top of this, she was moving house, which put additional stress and uncertainty on the situation. Her Employment Consultant, Rachel, was able to encourage her to keep on with the job, offering to pay her weekly travel costs to get to work through the Closing the Gap fund. Nikki’s Personal Advisor from the Leaving Care Team further managed to provide Nikki with food vouchers throughout December, enabling her to make ends meet until she would receive her first pay cheque.

Your support allowed Nikki to gain confidence and she is now undertaking a paid for training course which is targeted at students wanting to set up their own social enterprise. We are looking forward to seeing her after her course and supporting her develop to her enterprise ideas.

Sephora has found the career she wanted
Sephora has found the career she wanted
It takes more than just skills to be professional
It takes more than just skills to be professional

Links:

Jan 24, 2018

Together we can Close the Gap in 2018!

Care leavers celebrating Christmas
Care leavers celebrating Christmas

As the first month of 2018 comes to an end, we are looking back at the past year and want to shout out a big THANK YOU for your phenomenal support throughout 2017!

Last year, Drive Forward welcomed 264 new care leavers wanting to start out or take the next step in their career. The young people worked extremely hard, attending personal development and professional skills training sessions, to boost their confidence and improve themselves. They have written countless applications, practiced for interviews with committed volunteers and learned about different industries and career paths with our corporate partners. 97 of the care leavers working with us managed to secure employment in 2017; 59 young people improved their skillset through doing work placements and internships; and 28 young people moved into further education and training.

For many of them, 2017 could have looked very different if it wasn’t for your generous support. Closing the Gap has enabled them to make a lasting impression in job interviews by looking the part; it has helped them to travel to work each day and stay focussed at work instead of going hungry; it prevented them from falling into arrears and sitting in the dark. In short, you have had a lasting impact on many young care leavers’ lives in 2017. Thank you!

Sephora, 22

Read the full story here.

When Sephora, aged 22, first stepped through the Drive Forward doors in the summer of 2017, her first thoughts were “will they really be able to help me with what I am looking for?” Young people leaving the care system are referred often from one service to the next and not all are able to help them or deliver on promises.

Sephora had just quit working for a care agency, which she had been engaged with since she left care at 18. As a mother of a then 5-year-old, the uncertainty around changeable hours and flexible work times had become too much to handle. She turned to her social worker for advice and was recommended to get in touch with Drive Forward. Sephora wanted to start a new career, which would allow her to establish a stable environment for her daughter. She was looking for a 9-5 job, ideally close to her home as well to her daughter’s school. She started working with Heaven, one of our Employment Consultants, who encouraged her to look at industries and jobs the young mother hadn’t considered before. This included a brand-new opportunity with one of our new partners.

We had just finished consulting with the Children’s Commissioner’s Office to design an apprenticeship scheme accessible for, and tailored to, the specific requirements of care leavers.

When Heaven first suggested the Business Admin Apprenticeship to Sephora, she was unsure. It was outside of her comfort zone as she had not been in an office environment before. However, boosted by Heaven’s belief in her and knowing that she wouldn’t have to go through the application process alone, she decided to go for it and was delighted when she learned that her application had been successful.

There was one last hurdle to face: starting full-time work. Sephora was no longer eligible for housing benefit and had one month to wait until her first pay cheque. She had bills to pay, travel, clothes and food for her and her daughter to think about.

Thanks to your fantastic support, Sephora wasn’t left on the back foot. She was able to budget ahead, instead of scraping by and getting into debt before she had hardly begun.

Three months into the job, Sephora describes her experience:

“It is amazing, it is going really well, I am learning a lot daily… just how the office works… I am happier… Before I worked for a care agency and I did not know if I would have a job from one day to the next. I have a 7-year-old child. There are certain things you have to be able to provide for your home and it is hard to provide these things… I am more relaxed and I have 25 days’ holiday… I can plan for things.”

Aaron, 20

Aaron’s career goal is to set up his own business in multi-trading doing plumbing, pipework, decorating, electrics, residential and commercial, a trade he has learnt about from his step-father. When he joined Drive Forward in September last year, Aaron was highly motivated and eager to progress in his career. Together with his Employment Consultant Rachel, Aaron identified work and training opportunities in the building and construction sector and completed a couple of applications. After a short while, Aaron was invited to interview with a newly established construction company and promptly got the job!

Like so many young people working with Drive Forward, Aaron had been classified as NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training), which means that he was relying on social benefits. Signing an employment contract, however, put him into a situation where one the one hand, he was no longer eligible for Job Seekers Allowance or housing benefit, whilst on the other hand, not having received his first month’s pay check yet. Thus, he was facing the challenge of tackling a period of three weeks without any financial incomings.

Closing the Gap made a huge difference to my life. When I started my current job, there was a period of three weeks where I hadn’t been paid anything. Obviously, I’m expected to get to work, which costs money, and the job centre told me ‘You’re working now, so we don’t have anything to do with you anymore.’ That’s where Closing the Gap has really helped me, covering my travel as well as other things like food and clothes.”

Aaron started working in late October and loves his new job. He keeps his end goal in mind and still engages in the various after-work activities we offer at Drive Forward to boost his professional and personal development.

“When I’m older I want to have my own business in multi trade. I want to be able to do brick laying, plastering, electrics, plumbing… I had this dream ever since I was 12 years old that by the time I retire, I want to move to Hawaii and build my own house. Yes, I’m going to build my house in Hawaii!”

Nikki, 22

Nikki is a graduate with a first-class degree in Human Rights and Politics from Colchester University. She has been unemployed since completing her degree and came to Drive Forward for help and advice around her CV and finding a job.

Going through different options available to graduates in her field, Nikki decided to apply for a graduate internship specifically aimed at care leavers with the Civil Service. Whilst we supported her throughout the application process and helped her prepare for the interview, Nikki showed a lot of initiative attending our employability skills workshops and sessions with corporate partners, developing her competencies and learning about tools like the STAR technique.

Nikki made it through to the final stages of the process, but unfortunately did not get the position with the civil service. However, she remained resilient and started working as a Christmas temp at the prestigious Fortnum & Mason’s shop in Charing Cross.

Nikki was desperate to work, but was cut off from receiving Job Seekers Allowance on starting her role. On top of this, she was moving house, which put additional stress and uncertainty on the situation. Her Employment Consultant, Rachel, was able to encourage her to keep on with the job, offering to pay her weekly travel costs to get to work through the Closing the Gap fund. Nikki’s Personal Advisor from the Leaving Care Team further managed to provide Nikki with food vouchers throughout December, enabling her to make ends meet until she would receive her first pay cheque.

Your support allowed Nikki to gain confidence and she is now undertaking a paid for training course which is targeted at students wanting to set up their own social enterprise. We are looking forward to seeing her after her course and supporting her develop to her enterprise ideas.

Aaron is proud and happy at his new job!
Aaron is proud and happy at his new job!

Links:

Oct 26, 2017

Empowering care leavers to aim higher!

Interview training session with corporate partners
Interview training session with corporate partners

As the days are getting shorter we hope that you had enough time to soak up the lovely summer sun over the past couple of months. We certainly had a good summer with the team and the young people enjoying the terrace at our new offices in Waterloo!

Energized by the sunshine (and the odd cup of coffee or tea), we saw many enthusiastic young people progress in their future careers. Over the past three months, 22 of them gained full-time or part-time employment, whilst some of them kick-started their career with an apprenticeship. Another 13 care leavers have now started their university or college course, whilst 12 young people are broadening their horizons on work placements with our corporate partners.

Beginning a new chapter in life, especially for young people, can be a scary and intimidating experience. If you’re then confronted with additional barriers that growing up in care brings with it - from insecure housing, to financial instability, to the lack of a social safety net and the general feeling of having no-one to fall back on in case something goes wrong – moving forward in life can appear an unsurmountable challenge.

Care leavers need help to break down the barriers and face up to the difficulties in front of them, and it is fantastic that they can count on you to support them to do so!

Rachael, 21, SEN teaching assistant

Rachael has had an interest in the structure and development of human society and the plurality of communities from a very young age. At 12 years old, she participated in a student exchange programme, travelling to South Africa and absorbing the local culture. Impressed by what she had experienced, she became an Ambassador for the programme, and the following year assisted local outreach teams to deliver training sessions in South African orphanages.

Following a work experience with a national children’s charity, working with children and families with complex needs, she decided to pursue a career that would enable her to improve lives and have a lasting impact on society. Eager to broaden her knowledge, she went on to do degree in sociology.

After graduating from university, however, Rachael was struggling to transition into meaningful employment that would allow her to build her skills and experience. Whilst recent statistics show that graduate unemployment rate is at a long time low, these numbers have to be put into perspective. On the one hand, more and more young adults decide to continue their education and pursue a post-graduate degree. On the other hand, many graduates are forced into roles that don’t allow them to make the most of their talents.

Although Rachael’s previous experience and education put her in an excellent position to independently look for long-term employment, the London graduate job-market is very challenging. Having sent off over 50 applications without having been successful, Rachael eventually took on a job as a sales assistant in a retail store.

When Rachael joined Drive Forward Foundation in September, she was eager to progress her career and quickly took the advice provided by her Employment Consultant in order to find employment in a relevant field. Interested in Education and Training, as well as Social and Youth Work, she polished up her CV and tailored it to each opportunity she wanted to apply for. With just this little extra support, it didn’t take long until Rachael had secured a full-time position as a Special Educational Needs Classroom Assistant at a school.

Without your generous support, her successful transition into this new chapter would have been so much more difficult. With no savings in her account, she was struggling to pay for her travel in order to get to work. Thus, the closing the Gap fund provided her with a travel card to bridge the gap until Rachael received her first pay cheque.

Peter, 25, intern at a creative agency

Peter joined Drive Forward in September last year, whilst he was still completing his undergraduate degree in Social Psychology at King’s College. With his open and ambitious personality, he instantly struck a chord with the team as well as the volunteers he encountered. Eager to learn and make new experiences, Peter took up any opportunity that would allow him to gain deeper insight into different work environments. He attended skills building workshops and several events with our corporate partners to broaden his knowledge about the world of work. His high level of motivation and goal-oriented attitude soon enabled him to secure a placement with J. Walter Thompson. His enthusiasm for the role and eagerness to learn prompted JWT to extend his placement for an additional two months.

Inspired by this fantastic experience, Peter was eager to learn more about the sector and its different industries and he began applying for relevant roles. He had not only made a lasting impression at JWT, but also managed to build and continuously nurture a valuable professional network. It is through the contacts that he made during his placement, that he has now secured another internship for six months with a creative agency in the city.

It is only through your support, however, that Peter is able of taking up this fantastic opportunity!

Living in Surrey, travelling to London every day isn’t only a time-consuming endeavour, but also a very costly one. As our corporate partners, JWT know about the difficulties and challenges care leavers face when moving into employment. They understand the financial pressure these young people endure and have made an effort to change their internal procedures to accommodate their needs. Hence, they would offer interns to cover their travel expenses from day one, regardless of usual payroll periods.

With companies outside our immediate reach, such a level of commitment cannot be taken for granted and young people are often cautious about asking their future employer for support, as they fear negative consequences of disclosing their financial situation. In Peter’s case, he could expect his first paycheque only after having worked for a month. In order to go to work every day, he needed to spend the money he had saved up for rent on his daily travel.

Many of the young people working with us have been in the situation before and not managed to get back on track with their payments despite having taken on a job. Thanks to you, Peter will not have to face this challenge. As soon as we learned about his difficulties, we offered Peter a one-month travel card, so that he will not fall into arrears.

Thank you!

Your donation is still worth double!

Closing the Gap has been awarded a Community grant from GlobalGiving! This will allow us to support even more young care leavers to overcome financial hardships when moving into training and employment. How it works: If we raise £10.000 for the Closing the Gap fund until May 2018, globalgiving.org will release another £10.000 to facilitate young care leavers transition into sustainable employment and independence.

Panel discussion - challenges of leaving care
Panel discussion - challenges of leaving care
Mindfulness course
Mindfulness course

Links:

 
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