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.

Thanking Day 2023

Thanking Day 2023

Our Thanking Day – 28th March 2023

We arranged this Thanking Day to celebrate the vast impact and generosity of our funders, business partners, volunteers and supporters. We want to express how grateful we are for your support in ensuring we can continue supporting under-served young people to transition successfully from school into further education or employment. 

Throughout the day we will be sharing social media posts spotlighting our key partners and meeting with our funders and business partners to celebrate the impact of their support.

Our Annual Review 

We’re delighted to mark our Thanking Day by launching our 2021/22 annual review today, which outlines the impact of our work. 

Last year, we worked with 1,286 young people, a 15% increase from 2020/21. 82% of our FutureMe 2021 graduates are in education, employment or training. The national average for the most comparable group is 67%. It is important to us that every young person we work with knows they have the potential to succeed in life and to secure a fulfilling job or career. This wouldn’t be possible without the support from our loyal funders and partners. 

Looking to the year ahead and as we enter into the final two years of our five-year strategy, we have a renewed focus on relationships with our schools and corporate partners. We are determined to continue delivering high quality coaching programmes to our impressive community of young people. 

Thank You

To demonstrate the impact of our work, we want our supporters to hear directly from our young people. ThinkForward CEO, Ashley McCaul, interviewed young people on each of our three programmes about the impact of our work. Here’s what they had to say: 

Our young trustees, Dan Easterbrook and Sally Cartwright, would also like to say a special thank you: 

An enormous thank you to every single person and organisation who has supported our work, we couldn’t do it without you! 

Covid – one year on

Covid-19 one year on

It’s one year since schools in England closed to the majority of students due to Covid-19.

Overnight we shifted to staff working from home. Our CEO Ashley McCaul, with support from our board, led by our chair Charlie Green, immediately recognised that in unprecedented times, we were a lifeline for many of our young people and their families, and made the decision to keep our programmes running.

Like our young people, we had to draw on resilience  to keep operating while managing staff illness and the difficult personal circumstances many of our team faced at home. We adapted to remote delivery for coaching and innovated to find new ways to host our employability activities.

In the last year we also produced a new five-year strategy and we are developing a new equalities plan which will sit at the heart everything we do. To make sure the voices of young people are heard by government, we joined the Youth Employment Group, set up by Impetus.

As we look ahead we can see the prospect of some normality returning, but for our young people we know the job market will be incredibly challenging and we will continue to build on our work with employers to create more job pathways for young people.

Ashley said: “I’d like to pay tribute to ThinkForward’s staff, our school, employer and funding partners and our young people, who all faced huge challenges due to Covid-19. I’m proud that we continued supporting young people through the pandemic. Our focus now is to ensure every young person on our programmes has the better and brighter future they deserve. Through coaching and employability activities we will be doing all we can to prepare them to gain the confidence, independence and skills they need for their next steps.”