2024 Spring Newsletter

2024 Spring Newsletter

A note from our CEO:


I hope you have had a wonderful start to 2024. As we approach the end of the spring term, I am thrilled to share some highlights from the past few months.

It has been a particularly busy term for us, as we have launched new exciting initiatives tailored to different groups of young people who we will be supporting over the next couple of years. You can read more about these below.

Charlene Theophile – Director of Programmes, Patrice Etienne – Head of Inclusion Programmes, and I had the honour of attending a celebratory event hosted by The Careers & Enterprise 

Company (CEC) at the House of Lords earlier this month. We were recognised by Nicky Morgan as a Careers Champion in the Chair’s Choice category for our Future Leaders programme, in partnership with the GLA and supported by 7PK. It was fantastic to see our work being recognised for its achievements.

This term, we also released our 2022/2023 annual review. The review shines a light on the powerful impact that our work has had on young people. It includes insights from young people, parents and business partners, and quantifies the effect that our unique coaching and employability programmes are having. We also hosted our annual Thanking Day to share our gratitude to our funders and partners. I had the pleasure of speaking with some of our supporters to express our thanks and share updates on our work. 

Programme Delivery:

Tailoring our FutureMe Programme:

As we announced in our e-newsletter last term, we were delighted to kick off a brand-new project with young people identifying as women on our FutureMe programme earlier this month. 

The project will support young women to develop employability action plans and gain skills to achieve their goals. Young women will experience gender-based group coaching, peer mentoring and employability activities, involving female business volunteers in work. 

Through this work, young women will develop the confidence, mindsets and skills needed to secure and sustain employment. They will also develop a collective voice to tackle gender inequalities in the workplace and influence employers to create inclusive recruitment practices. 

We’re currently looking for business partners to support this project. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact nicolette.bassan@thinkforward.org.uk.

Our supported employment programmes:

In March, we were delighted to host a celebration event in London to mark the end of our DFN-MoveForward programme.

Our young people, school partners, funders, business partners and commissioners came together to celebrate the impact of the DFN-MoveForward programme over the last five years. We heard from young people and guest speakers including a parent, a school partner, a business partner and our programme commissioners. It truly demonstrated the power of collaboration in achieving positive employment outcomes for young people with a learning disability or autism.

We are thrilled that 46% of young people on our programme who were work-ready have transitioned into sustained employment, which is almost ten times the national average of 4.8% of adults with learning disabilities and autism being in paid work. We couldn’t have achieved this success without the support of all our partners, helping us to provide coaching and workplace insights for our young people.

We also announced the launch of our new Making Strides programme that will be working with young adults with learning disabilities and/or autism in London and the West Midlands. We are looking forward to commencing this programme in April.

Our work to tackle school exclusion:

This month, our Future Leaders programme came to the end of its two-year pilot. We have supported 60 black male students in Year 11 to access coaching, work experience, work insight days and mentoring opportunities with black role models. We are delighted that 85% of our Future Leaders have transitioned into post-16 destinations.

We will be continuing this area of our work in 2024. Please keep an eye on our e-newsletters and social media to hear more about our future plans.

“The first couple of times I had meetings with [my coach] I was kind of sceptical about it because stuff like this has happened in the past. It’s never really materialised. But I’ve had meetings with Patrice, and over time, I’ve become more comfortable being able to talk to him about stuff that I wouldn’t really talk to other people about, as well as the fact that he’s also giving me opportunities to help basically brighten my future.”

– Future Leaders Student


We’re currently recruiting for an Employability Events & Partnerships Manager in London.

We are looking for someone who shares our ambition that every young person has the confidence, independence and skills they need for a better and brighter future. As part of our Development team, our Employability Events & Partnerships Managers play a key role in holding some of our valuable employer relationships and through the delivery of our essential ‘ready for work’ activities. If you have experience facilitating engaging and inclusive employability activities to equip young people for further education and sustained employment, this could be the role for you. 

For details on how to apply, please click here.

2023 Autumn Newsletter

2023 Autumn Newsletter

A note from our CEO:

I’m excited to present the autumn term highlights as we near the end of the year and reflect on the work that we have done with our wonderful young people.It has been a busy start to the new academic year. We welcomed new Year 9 students onto our FutureMe programme in London, Kent and Nottingham.
Alongside one-to-one coaching, young people across all three of our programmes attended work insight days at a variety of workplaces including banks, care homes and zoos, to broaden their understanding of the world of work.
In November, we were delighted to be shortlisted for two London Youth Awards – the Inspiring Young Changemakers Award, for our youth participation work, and the Creating a Better London award, for our Future Leaders programme, which supports black male students who have been excluded or are at risk of being excluded from mainstream education, to transition into employment or further education. I enjoyed attending the awards evening with some of our coaches and young people from our FutureMe and Future Leaders programme. It was a truly inspiring evening filled with celebration of the amazing achievements of youth organisations in London.

Programme Delivery:

Ambassadors and InspireMe:

Year 9 students on our FutureMe programme have been enrolled onto our Ambassador Programme, where they will plan and deliver social action projects about a social issue they feel is important in their local community. Last week, all ambassadors came together online for our national annual InspireMe event. Ambassadors participated in activities to broaden their understanding of social action and get them thinking about their projects. We can’t wait to see how these develop next year!  

Ambassadors chose to tackle social issues including racism, homelessness, mental health, knife crime, and humanitarian aid.

Refining our FutureMe programme:

We are thrilled to have been awarded a grant from City Bridge Foundation to refine and expand our work with young women on our FutureMe programme, to support them to secure employment and create brighter futures. The grant will allow us to support 100 young women (ages 15-18) in London through coaching, employability activities and peer mentoring. 
Young women face issues in the labour market including discrimination, sexism and gender pay gaps. Research has shown that young women have been hit hardest by the impact of Covid: they are more likely than men to be NEET, to work in low-paid jobs and to have unpaid caring responsibilities. Girls living in poverty, disabled workers and those facing racial inequality in particular face structural barriers and higher unemployment rates.  
Over 3 years, our new project will support women facing these issues. They will receive one-to-one coaching, helping young women develop post-16 employability action plans and gain skills and opportunities to achieve their goals. We will also provide gender-based group coaching and #employability activities involving female volunteers working in a wide range of industries.  
We can’t wait to begin this project and see our FutureMe young women’s confidence, skills, and employment prospects grow and develop! 

Our DFN-MoveForward programme:

In the summer term we announced that our DFN-MoveForward programme is coming to an end after an incredible five years.  
We are immeasurably proud to have served and supported over 270 young people during the lifetime of the programme. We are committed to continuing to support young people with SEND to transition into employment and are working on plans for new programmes which will come to fruition in 2024.  Please stay tuned for further information on this area of our work. 

Our work to tackle school exclusion:

Our Future Leaders programme is also reaching the end of its pilot period. Over the past year, we supported 60 black male students in Year 10 and Year 11 to access coaching, work experience, work insight days and mentoring opportunities with black role models.  

We will be continuing this area of our work in 2024 with young people who have been or are at risk of being excluded from mainstream education.  

Again, please keep an eye on our e-newsletters and social media to hear more about our future plans. 

“Being on the Future Leaders programme has impacted my future goals, because before I started the programme I was a sport person – I wanted to make it in sports. However with the work experience opportunities we did, I saw there’s life other than sports and there’s other career opportunities that I can delve into. I’m very outspoken right now, but beforehand I was a very shy person, I kept to myself and my little circle of people, but the programme is helping to broaden that and helping me be able to speak to people I wouldn’t normally speak to. It has helped bring up my confidence.”
Elliot, Future Leaders Student


We’re very excited that ThinkForward is growing! In 2024, we will be reaching even more young people, including expansion into new areas of London and the UK.

We are currently recruiting for four roles. If you are passionate about working for an organisation that improves the lives of young people who face challenges, to support them to achieve brighter futures, then please have a look at the jobs we are currently advertising here.

  • Communications & Youth Participation Officer
  • Database Administrator
  • FutureMe Progression Coach – Nottingham
  • SEND Employment & Progression Coach – Hounslow

Should you want to apply, then please  


The Big Give Campaign:

We are thrilled to have exceeded our ambitious Big Give Campaign target of £60,000, raising a total of £60,317. This is an increase compared to the £40,000 we raised during the Big Give last year, and we are extremely grateful for all the extra support. These funds are vital for us to continue our work supporting young people to successfully transition from school into further education or employment. A huge thank you on behalf of everyone at ThinkForward to all who generously donated during this campaign, or shared our campaign with your networks, we really appreciate your support.  

2023 Summer Newsletter

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.