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Birmingham and Solihull Youth Promise Plus

9th June 2017

Can you imagine growing up in a household where no-one goes out to work, everyone relies on benefits as the only source of income and no-one really cares what you are up to? Or perhaps you’ve had a really bad experience at school and believe any place for further education or employment will be the same or worse than school and you really can’t face the challenge alone?

You may be surprised to learn that this is a very real picture for a number of young people in our Borough, as a result of their family situation or their health they may lack self confidence, suffer from anxiety or depression and really believe that there is nothing out there for them to do. They will be classed as being NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). The future will look bleak!

Part of the key role of Engage is to help and support people to reach their true life potential and all of our staff are committed to delivering on this outcome. We all get a great deal of job satisfaction when we begin to see people taking even the smallest steps towards a more fulfilling life that will bring them future happiness and a greater sense of self worth.

Solihull Council has partnered with Birmingham City Council to deliver the Birmingham and Solihull Youth Promise Plus Programme (YPP, also known as Youth Employment Initiative, YEI previously). This is funded by the European Union and aims to get around 16,000 young people aged between 15 and 29 from across Birmingham and Solihull into further education, training or employment by July 2018.

The Engage team are all signed up to support these young people, we are working with staff from other Council teams and Intervention Workers from APM (Advanced People Management ) to identify and support these young people with the intention of getting them engaged with meaningful activities to ensure they can achieve great things in the future!

Engage will support young people by building their confidence, discussing their options and signposting them to more appropriate services where relevant. We have seen some great successes such as being able to provide some ‘in house’ work experience for young people, four of these young people were then successful in securing apprenticeships within our team and they have gone on to achieve great things across the Council.

We have an Implementation Group made up of a team leader and worker from each of the Engage teams – Empower, Enable, Direct Work and Business Unit. This small group of people are the champions of this project and we are always looking at how we can best support more and more young people.

We recently ran our first Kick Start Programme; this was a group effort from across the team but led by our Empower workers. The two day course consisted of fun activities designed to motivate and encourage young people to take the next steps towards long term employment. The feedback from the young people was really positive with comments such as they wished it were a longer programme! Some of the young people were already signed up to YPP but those that weren’t have since registered. The second Kick Start Programme will be running later in July and we already have a number of young people signed up to attend!

Youth Promise Plus cannot be delivered by any one person or team.  In order to achieve the best possible outcomes for the young people concerned we need to pull on the experience, expertise and knowledge of a wide range of people.  For this reason we work in close partnership with colleagues from the Employment and Skills Team who have great links with employers in the Borough who are willing to offer our young people a chance to prove themselves. 

We work closely with staff at The Frame Academy who offer young people the opportunity to work in a fully equipped workshop to restore a bicycle that they can keep to help them get around at the end of the course, we work with our Independent Travel Trainers who will support young people to use public transport in a safe way and we also work with our colleagues at Chelmsley Wood Library where we have the Fab Lab which will allow young people to be creative and learn different aspects of graphic design and technology including how to use a 3D printer, T shirt designs etc. We also have close links to The Princes Trust, colleges and training providers so we really can find something for everyone to have a go at once they are ready and able to participate!

By supporting our young people to fulfil their true potential we are not only improving their lives but the benefits will be felt by many other people and other family members will see how much happier the young person is.  Some may want to follow the young person and make changes in their own lives, it may be that the young person is also a parent, a parent who is more fulfilled will be a more positive role model to their children and by securing employment they will also be a better provider within the household. 

The benefits will also be seen by the local community, young people engaged in more meaningful activities are less likely to commit crime or anti-social behaviour, they are less likely to suffer long term health issues and if they secure employment they will not be making demands on the public purse in terms of benefit claims.

If you know of a young person who you think may benefit from our support call on 0121 709 7000 us to find out more, we need to know that the young person wants to work with us as we are a voluntary agency but as we hope you can see from above, the benefits to them could be life changing!