2023 Summer Newsletter

A note from our CEO:

As this academic year comes to an end, we would love to update our supporters on some highlights from the summer term.

During the summer term we delivered our award-winning business mentoring programme to all schools on our FutureMe programme, giving young people the opportunity to receive career advice, CV tips and mock interview practice from employees. We also launched some exciting new opportunities for our young people, including a workplace pilot with DHL Parcel UK and a youth-led research project with The Blagrave Trust.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our schools, funders, business partners and volunteers for your support during this academic year.

Our contribution to the Youth Unemployment APPG:

One of our strategic goals is to step into the thought leadership space. We aim to make recommendations to local and national decision makers by using our evidence base of “what works” and, importantly, share our young people’s experiences. We hope that our evidence and expertise will support the sector in influencing and affecting positive change for young people.

Recently, we took the opportunity to provide our own evidence to the Youth Employment All-Party Parliamentary Group inquiry into ‘Place based approaches to tackling youth unemployment’.

Our Director of Programmes, Charlene Theophile, was delighted to attend the inquiry’s evidence launch session at the Houses of Parliament in July. The key findings were that “place” plays an important role in young people’s access to opportunities and services that support positive transitions to employment. The APPG for Youth Employment has put forward a full set of recommendations for government to consider to ensure all young people are able to access the right levels of support and access to opportunities wherever they live.

Read our evidence submission in the full report here.

Work placement pilot with DHL Parcel UK:

This term, four young men on our DFN-MoveForward programme completed a 3-week work placement at DHL Parcel UK in Kent.

This work placement pilot was the first of its kind for ThinkForward, with the aim being to offer work placement opportunities tailored to the specific needs of post-16 young people diagnosed with a learning disability and/or autism.

Only 4.8% of young people with learning disabilities get into paid work. Employment rates for people with autism or a learning disability are lower than for people with any other form of disability.

Our work placement programmes aim to tackle this issue by working closely with employers to broker bespoke opportunities for young people with special educational needs to support them in the workplace and empower them to transition into paid employment.

Recently, our DFN-MoveForward students, ThinkForward staff and DHL Parcel UK employees came together to celebrate the end of the placement.Peter, DHL Parcel UK, said, “I’ve seen development in my team and I’m so proud of them. I’m also proud of the young people – you should all be pleased with yourselves. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve seen the benefits in the four young people and in everyone working on the DHL site.”

“It feels good coming to work here every day – getting to meet new people and seeing a new environment, and you just feel like part of the team because everyone’s friendly and approachable.”
- Jake, DFN-MoveForward student

Joe, DHL Parcel UK, said, “When Jake first walked into the office he was very shy and a bit down, but watching him now when he walks into the office, he’s opened up, he’s smiling, he’s happy. He’s always constantly asking for a task to do, and is even now debriefing drivers on the radio. His confidence has sky rocketed, which is amazing to see.”

We are extremely grateful to DHL Parcel UK for partnering with us on our first work placement programme, which has been a huge success – with two of our DFN-MoveForward young people being offered permanent roles with DHL Parcel UK at the end of the placement!

If you are a business interested in partnering with us on a work placement programme, please contact nicolette.bassan@thinkforward.org.uk

Our new Youth Participation initiatives:

This term we were excited to launch our new Youth-Led Research Action Project, funded by The Blagrave Trust. 

We are extremely grateful to The Blagrave Trust for funding us to deliver an incredible opportunity for our young people based in Kent. Seventeen ThinkForward post-16 young people will be leading a research project into the various barriers young people face in securing positive employment opportunities.

“By us doing this research I hope to spread the results so adults have more understanding of the young people’s struggles.”
- Sofia, Year 11

Young people will be trained and supported to collect data through surveys, focus groups and interviews and will be presenting their findings to The Blagrave Trust and ThinkForward, helping youth and employment organisations to refine their programmes and opportunities for young people.

We are very excited to see our young people use this platform to share their experiences and use their voices to initiate change.

The photos below were taken by Sophie, Year 13, who attended the event.

“It is significantly harder to have a voice as a young person, and to be taken seriously - we deserve the opportunity to voice our thoughts and opinions to support ourselves both now and in the near future.”
- Vicky, Year 11

Youth participation is at the heart of all that we do and we are committed to giving young people platforms to share their opinions and raise their voices. We are excited to be launching our new alumni network for young people who have graduated from our programmes. The network aims to create a space for graduates to share their views on how to improve the programme, connect with other like-minded young people and hear about relevant opportunities. If you are a previous graduate from one of our programmes, you can get involved here.

We’re recruiting new trustees!

We currently have an exciting opportunity as we are recruiting two new trustees. We’re looking for a Development expert & Impact expert to join our trustee panel.

If you:
– Have networks in development or impact sectors
– Can bring expert knowledge to support our work
– Are excited to drive change so we can reach more young people

Then please apply here.

Alternatively, if you would like to organise an informal chat with our CEO to find out more, please reach out to ashley.mccaul@thinkforward.org.uk.

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