England - The Bright Futures

Target group: Young people aged 12 to 18 who are in care and leaving care in the City of York

Main goal of the project: To improve young people’s knowledge and experience of employment by providing opportunities to take part in employment skills workshops and work experience placements with local employers.

Short summary: The Bright Futures project was developed by York Cares, an independent employee-volunteering charity, which brings businesses, employees and communities together to improve the lives of York’s residents. It builds upon the earlier Starting Blocks project, by extending opportunities to young people in care, as well as care leavers.

The Bright Futures project aims to increase young people’s aspirations and their education, employment and training outcomes. It involves several local employers working alongside Children's Services to deliver the work experience programme. Researchers from the University of York are working with the project to assess progress during the first year, by gathering the views of young people, employers and programme staff. York Cares acts as the coordinating partner, facilitating the recruitment of employers and helping to match opportunities with the interests and needs of young people taking part in the programme. This has involved hosting seminars and meetings with employers to highlight some of the challenges facing care-experienced young people and the need for employment opportunities.

The programme offers young people three options; an employability workshop (e.g. CV writing and interview skills), a behind the scenes workshop, which involves a tour of the work environment to find out how an organisation operates and the range of work opportunities available (e.g. Hospital and York Theatre Royal) and a short work placement opportunity (e.g. 5 days working with a local employer such as a Law firm, Architect company or Hotel). Young people can experience all three options if they wish.

The programme aims to improve employability and wider skills as well as work related experiences for young people in care, enabling them to test out different types of jobs to help them decide what they might like to do. Young people report that the programme led to increased self-confidence and understanding of the work environment. Employers valued the opportunity to broaden their awareness of care-experienced youth within their community and reported that young people showed great enthusiasm and interest during their workshops and placements.

Useful links (video’s, websites etc.): http://www.yorkcares.co.uk/our-programmes/starting-blocks/ and https://www.york.ac.uk/spsw/research/researchproject-brightfutures/

Contact person & organization: Jo Dixon and Jade Ward, University of York Georgia Everall York Cares

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