Talent Match

Sheffield Futures shortlisted for ERSA employability awards 2019

Sadie White No Comments

Sheffield Futures’ Talent Match project has been shortlisted for the youth employment category at the ERSA employability awards. The awards celebrate the achievements of organisations and individuals working in partnership to help jobseekers in their journey towards, into and progression in work. The youth employment category celebrates the achievements of employment services providers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment in delivering employment services for young adults.

For the last five years, Talent Match Sheffield City Region (TMSCR) has turned life around for over 2,500 young people in the Sheffield City Region who were furthest away from the job market. Across the Sheffield City Region, from Doncaster to Barnsley, Rotherham to North East Derbyshire, a team of 23 coaches worked one-to-one with 18-24 year-olds who had been jobless for over a year and were struggling with a wide range of life issues. Their barriers to work included learning disabilities, mental health problems, homelessness, single parenthood, care leavers and were compounded by a range of emotional, practical and skills based barriers.

Talent Match (TM) was a £106 million programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund to address unemployment amongst 18-24 year olds, delivered between 2014 and 2018 through partnerships in 21 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas in England. Through personalised, flexible, ‘test and learn’ provision which addressed needs and aspirations, the programme sought to support young people who were furthest from the labour market facing multiple barriers in securing employment. Participation in the programme was voluntary. Talent Match was co-designed by and co-delivered with young people.

The awards will be held in London on Thursday 20 June. Watch this space…..

Case study: Talent Match makes dream come true for train enthusiast Toby

Sadie White No Comments

Toby, 15, from Doncaster has a life-long passion for trains demonstrated through his work at a specialist models shop and his passion for selling train models online. With a range of additional needs relating to Autism Toby, a Talent Match (TM) client supported by the Princes Trust under Groundwork struggled to gain meaningful employment but with the support of the dedicated Talent Match team has secured the job of his dreams.

After a successful start which involved working with the Talent Match team to secure a position, things took a turn for the worse for Toby and unfortunately he found himself out of work again.

‘I was really disappointed when my first position didn’t work out and I don’t know where I would have been without the Talent Match team to support me in getting me back into work.’ Says Toby.

Testament to the benefits of successful multi-agency working with the Princes Trust and Groundwork as well as a fantastic performance from Toby at interview, the Talent Match team worked with Toby to identify a new placement at Virgin Trains.

Virgin have agreed to accept Toby onto a 9 week work placement with them which will involve some amazing opportunities including a cab ride with a driver and a number of exciting opportunities to attend events such as the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle where he will be provided with accommodation and first class travel.

Commenting on the opportunity Toby says. ‘I’m so excited about getting the opportunity to get an insight into the rail industry at Virgin Trains. It’s just fantastic. Not only will I be earning money but I’ll be working in an industry that I have a real passion for and will also have access to some brilliant experiences. I can’t wait to go to the Great North Exhibition in Newcastle. I’ve never been to Newcastle before! It’s just brilliant and I’m so excited about starting my induction with Virgin.’

Talent Match SCR, funded by the Big Lottery aims to guide young people 18-24 who have been Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) for 12 months or more to move closer to employment.


Emma’s story: How Talent Match helped me

Sadie White No Comments

Emma Smith grew up surrounded by drug use and heavy drinking.

There were times too when she saw people she cared about being subjected to mental and physical abuse.

Her experiences didn’t break her – they made her determined not to fall into the same downward spiral.

She reflects: “I didn’t know that the circumstances I lived in weren’t normal. But I did know what drugs and alcohol did to you. And what people could do to you. And I didn’t want to live like that.”

She became fiercely independent. Says Emma: “I was stubborn and closed but also very confident and went off to work in a shop because it gave me money in my pocket.”

But she ended up getting stuck in low-level retail work and hating the fact that she hadn’t got the right qualifications or experience to find another job.

Only when she became a mother at 18 did she find the determination to change her life.

“As soon as I had my daughter Jersey, it was like I had purpose. I wanted more out of life for her and for me,” Emma explains.

To find a better future, the first step was becoming a volunteer at Edlington Community Organisation (ECO) a charity working to improve and regenerate Edlington and make it a better place to live.

She volunteered around her paid job and says: “ECO runs a benefits surgery and a food bank, activities for kids. Being there made me feel I was helping people and I realised even more I was in the wrong job. I felt like I gave everything to the retail company I worked for but got nothing back. I was on a low wage and got into debt and became depressed with it all.”

One day her boss at ECO stepped in to help.

“She said: We can help you. This can be a turning point. It actually was. She put me in touch with Talent Match and I met my coach, Viv.

“She’s helped me massively. She got me onto courses to give me qualifications in Health and Safety, First Aid and paediatric training.

“She was so supportive. She would even take me to my courses. If ever I needed her I knew I could just text her or call her.”

Then came the big life change; Viv enabled Emma to get nine months of paid work as a junior administrator with ECO through the Work Fund placement scheme.

“I got to stay at ECO. I was over the moon. It gave my life purpose,” says Emma, now 25, of Edlington.

“My role included social media marketing, writing letters and greeting customers. But I did so many other things just to help out – I was a face painter, a window cleaner, you name it.”

When her placement ended she went back into retail. “Even though it wasn’t my plan I am very happy. I have a great work family and the company value me,” she says. I want to be able to keep a roof over our heads, pay bills, but also spend as much time as I can with my partner and our daughter, now seven, and this job allows that to happen.”

Emma still wants to support others and is enrolling on beauty course so one day she can give free, confidence-boosting treatments to young women and men.

“I believe if you have a positive attitude positive things happen. I have overcome depression by myself,” she says. “I have Talent Match to thank for all the opportunities given to me – and Viv to thank for all the endless support, wise words and dedication she gave to see me succeed.”

Talent Match clients finding futures in IT

Sadie White No Comments

Vulnerable young people who never dreamed they could turn their passion for IT into their future have found jobs in the industry thanks to Talent Match supporter Aspire. 

The social enterprise based in Parson Cross, Sheffield, has been specialising in computer recycling and helping vulnerable and marginalised people gain skills for work since 2001. 

Aspire works with up to 20 people at a time for up to 12 months and has helped seven Talent Match clients over two and a half years. Three of them are now employed by Aspire and two have moved on to IT jobs elsewhere. 

“I would say that’s an excellent indicator of the success of the Talent Match programme. It would be a very sad day if the project were not able to continue through lack of funding,” said Aspire founder and general manager Dave Metcalfe. 

“Our Talent Match people all had a passion for IT but never thought they would get a foothold in the IT industry. Now they are building computers and solving IT problems for customers. They have been outstanding, soaking up knowledge and seizing every training opportunity offered. 

“We’ve seen visible changes in their personality, attitude and optimism for the future. 

“One of them is now the new manager of our retail shop, which sells affordable equipment we have refurbished. He’s doing a fantastic job and is also an excellent mentor to others coming through the programme.” 

Aspire is now an Employment Champion for Talent Match, encouraging other companies to get involved. 

Said Dave Metcalfe: “Young people are struggling in the jobs market. Available opportunities are fiercely contested and this makes it even harder for anyone with life challenges to get a foot on the ladder. The longer the ladder gets, the distance to the first rung seems impossible. 

“We nearly always find that if you offer a hand to someone who has been knocked to the floor, they’ll take it and get back on their feet.” 

Aspire relies on volunteers and donations of unwanted computer and electronic equipment. Contact Dave@Aspire-Sheffield.co.uk to make a donation or get involved 


Aspire Computer services at Soar Works in Sheffield Steven Pickering, Joseph Burgin and Connor Williamson in the shop repairing a PC
Aspire Computer services at Soar Works in Sheffield
Steven Pickering, Joseph Burgin and Connor Williamson in the shop repairing a PC


Threatened project helping Sheffield City Region’s most vulnerable young adults celebrates its success

Sadie White No Comments

No one was left behind when our Talent Match SCR team, currently fighting to continue reshaping the lives of the most vulnerable young people in the Sheffield City Region celebrated its many successes.

Young adults whose lives have been turned around by the employment programme told their remarkable stories of hope and positivity at the No One Left Behind conference at Rotherham’s New York Stadium this month. Local businesses who have welcomed them into their workforces, and Talent Match coaches, spoke of the rewards of providing a helping hand to young adults who would otherwise slip through the net and potentially end up jobless for life.

Clients have each been jobless for more than 12 months, and many experience barriers to work ranging from learning disabilities, mental health problems and homelessness to single parenthood. Others have spent years in care.

Key stakeholders outlined their belief in the programme, which helps young people develop skills and confidence through individually tailored solutions, including placements with caring local employers offering jobs that suit their needs. A team of 23 coaches continue to support them in the workplace for 6 months and beyond.

Talent Match SCR has placed 693 young adults into employment across South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire, and a further 1,300 are currently being helped by moving into education, training and
voluntary work.  Around 160 businesses in the region are supporting Talent Match by offering work placement and jobs.

Despite its success, though, the trailblazing national project, of which the Sheffield City Region scheme is a top five performer, looks destined to close in a year’s time (Dec 2018) when Big Lottery
funding runs out.

Talent Match SCR staged the conference to shout about its successes and appeal to local authorities, employers, funders, stakeholders and social investors to back their fight for survival by offering
funding and support.  

The event shared success stories from the project’s four-year history and attracted over 100, including representatives from the Third Sector, youth organisations and local authorities across the Sheffield City Region.

Speaking at the event, Lynne Hilson, Operations Director of Sheffield Futures, the young people’s charity which runs the project, said: “Talent Match has changed lives in this region. Young people who
believed they could never have a secure and happy future – because they thought they were unemployable – now have steady jobs and dreams they can reach for. We have to find a way to continue so we can help thousands more.”

Hosted by BBC’s Tom Ingall, of BBC Look North, the event featured live voting sessions, on-stage interviews with young people, video stories and a ceremony which saw two Sheffield organisations win awards
for their support – Aspire Community Enterprise, of Parson Cross, a social enterprise
helping vulnerable young people who never dreamed they could turn their passion for IT into their future find jobs in the industry. The computer recycling company marginalised people has helped seven young clients and currently employs three.

The All Friends Community Hub based at Walkley Ebenezer Church provides a day service and holiday respite for adults of all ages who have additional needs, learning and physical disabilities. It has
helped three Talent Match young people, one of whom now has a permanent position there.

Another highlight of the conference was a magic show by Sheffielder Calum Morris, who is now a professional self-employed magician thanks to Talent Match. The 22 year old, from Ecclesall, who now
performs performs close-up magic at dinners, parties and conferences, received a standing ovation. Said Talent Match project manager Jo Booth:”

Calum was just one of our stars on the day. There was so much emotion in the room in response to the stories the young people told of their journeys. My team was bursting with pride at their talent, courage and positivity.”

Speaker Nigel Brewster, Vice Chair of the Sheffield City Region LEP, told the audience: “In the words of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ‘rising employment alone will not tackle entrenched pockets of deprivation. To make Britain work for all we need to connect growth and cities to deprived neighbourhoods’. This is what Talent Match CCR is about– ensuring that in positive times, we don’t leave people behind.”

Guests heard about the value and impact of both the national and regional Talent Match programme from guest speaker Peter Wells, Professor of Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation at Sheffield Hallam
University. He commented: “Talent Match SCR has engaged over 2,000 young people, with nearly a third reporting mental ill health – higher than the average across other Talent Match programmes in England.

“Young people in Sheffield City Region are also more likely to experience homelessness and have a criminal record than those in many other Talent Match areas. Together, these issues present major barriers and demonstrate the need to develop an inclusive economy in Sheffield City Region.

“Talent Match’s legacy indicates that there should be a youth employment programme across Britain and this should be part of All-Party manifestos at the next General Election.”

Scott Hignett, Funding and Relationship Manager (Big Lottery Fund) told the audience:  “Talent Match Sheffield City Region is a family and a true example of the saying: ‘We make a living by what we get,
we make a life by what we give”.

Talent Match 2017-0121










Being interviewed on stage by Look North’s Tom Ingall are L-R: Ryszard Szumski, Talent Match Sheffield area coach, All About You; former Talent Match client Sobia Walton, who is now a Talent Match Young People’s Involvement Support Worker with Sheffield Futures, and Adam Wragg, a former Talent Match client who is now a support worker with Voyager Care

Talent Match event - Laura Brodrick ­ Think Big Picture -642

Creating the bigger picture… Laura Brodrick, Creative and
Graphic Facilitator with Think Big Picture, created a mood board from the
thoughts and ideas that flowed at Talent Match SCR’s No One Left Behind

Talent Match event winner Aspire Sheffield-547

Lisa Jackson, Talent Match Coach, receiving an employer award on
behalf of Aspire Community Enterprise, Parson Cross, who won an employer award
at the conference, pictured with Tom Ingall of Look North

Callum Morris who has been helped by Sheffield Futures in his quest to become a magician

Young magician Calum Morris who entertained at the No One Left Behind event









No One Left Behind #TMSCR17

Tash Bright No Comments

We are very excited about inviting you to the above day Conference, 9:30am till 3:30pm, and hope you can join us!

No One Left Behind is Talent Match Sheffield City Region’s opportunity to celebrate and share the success stories of the project over the last 2 years, recognise all involved with its delivery and of course not forget the fundamental reason the project exists: To ensure NO young person is left behind!


The free-to-attend conference will take place in the New York Suite of AESSEAL New York Stadium, Rotherham, overlooking the stunning pitch. Free car park is available on site, accessible from Don Street. For full directions please visit the Stadium website.

The programme:

Hosted by BBC’s Tom Ingall, a familiar face on Look North, the event programme will engage and inspire with a mix of speaker presentations, live voting sessions, the throwing and catching of questions (curious?), ‘on the sofa’ interviews with young people, video stories, a mini awards ceremony and even a surprise musical interlude or two!

Download the conference programme

Speakers include:

  • Gail Gibbons, Chair Sheffield Futures
  • Nigel Brewster, Vice Chair – Sheffield City Region LEP
  • Sophie Maxwell, Author of ‘The £1.80 Sandwich’
  • Peter Wells, Professor of Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation, CRESR, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Tom Ingall, BBC Look North Journalist

Delegates will… :

  • …hear about the value and impact of both the national and regional Talent Match programme
  • …hear what Talent Match Sheffield City Region does differently
  • …share in the celebrations of the achievements of Talent Match Sheffield City Region’s young people
  • …be inspired by the belief and value of Talent Match’s innovative and holistic approach
  • …be energised and motivated about the future legacy planning of employment programmes within Sheffield City Region (and beyond)

Who should attend?

  • Employers already engaged with TMSCR
  • Employers and HR managers interested in exploring engagement
  • Youth organisation leaders
  • Training providers
  • Mental Health and Health and Welfare agencies
  • Local Government representatives
  • Faith and Community leaders

Sponsorship opportunities:

If you are interested in supporting the conference and this fantastic project, there are a number of packages available. No One Left Behind is the perfect opportunity for you to place your brand in front of local, relevant audiences and be associated with a project of such important social impact. Packages will all be priced at £500 +vat and will include a presence at the event if required. For more details please contact Opening Doors & Venues (appointed conference organisers) by emailing events@opening-doors.org.uk or by phoning 01562731788. We look forward to hearing from you!

Free to attend so register today!

We’d love for you to attend our conference and find out more about Talent Match’s successes and our plans for the future.

We’ve helped young people from across the region to achieve amazing things and we can’t wait to share their inspiring stories with you.


Join the Twitter conversation

We’d love to hear from you so please join the conversation on Twitter @SheffieldTM using the conference hashtags #TMSCR17 and #Nooneleftbehind

Contact us

For all conference related enquiries please contact the appointed organisers:

Opening Doors & Venues
For and on behalf of Talent Match Sheffield City Region 2017
Email: events@opening-doors.org.uk
Phone: 01562 731788


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.