National award win for charity project to support young people leaving care into employment

National award win for charity project to support young people leaving care into employment

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A pilot project to help young people leaving the care system move into education, employment or training has won a national award in recognition of best practice at the UK Career Development Awards 2020, run by the Career Development Institute.

The project, named Project Apollo, commissioned by Sheffield City Council and funded by the Department for Education with investment from The Big Issue Invest and Sheffield Futures is delivered in partnership with the Leaving Care Service. It is a direct response to the need to support young people leaving care to secure positive futures.

Alex Leonard, Employer Engagement Co-ordinator at Sheffield Futures, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won the Innovative Employer Engagement Award and hope that our achievements will act as a best practice example to others looking to support young people into productive futures.

“Many young people who have experienced the care system have significant and lasting negative effects on their mental health and wellbeing and are statistically much less likely to move into further learning, employment or higher education successfully.

“It can be difficult to understand the needs of young people leaving care if you’ve never had experience of the challenges these young people face. Through Apollo we have been able to communicate with employers to demonstrate the value of these vibrant young adults as a talent pool. By doing this we negotiate opportunities and open doors for these young people to find inspiration and access the opportunities they so desperately need.

“That’s why projects like Apollo have such an important role to play, effectively working to give young people that have had a difficult start in life essential support to lead productive and happy lives while at the same time selling their skills to employers.”

The project aims to support 100 young care leavers towards a brighter future with careers guidance, help applying for opportunities, work experience, practical careers advice and barrier busting long term support.

Adrian Hackett, Director at Kollider, a digital and tech incubator, said: “Our business is about bringing together a vibrant community of talented people and combining great ideas. In May 2019 we were on the lookout for someone to manage our financial accounts and were recommended to get in touch with Sheffield Futures.

“Sheffield Futures’ positive approach helped us to instantly develop a great working rapport. They have a pre-determined process which made the task of hiring effortless from our perspective. They helped us shape the job description making it easier for a young person to understand, and then produced a candidate for us from Project Apollo. We hired the candidate and he has been a fantastic addition to the team now for six months! We have had continuous support from Sheffield Futures since.”

So far, 29 care leavers have successfully transitioned into employment, 16 have progressed onto work experience or volunteering opportunities and 32 have restarted education and training courses. The project runs until October 2021.

How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.