Two new young trustees appointed

Two fantastic young trustees have been appointed to join our board. Their recruitment is part of our commitment to ensure the insights and lived experiences of young people inform decision-making at the highest level of our organisation.

We are delighted that one of young trustees is a former Nottingham student from our programme. Sally Cartwright went to Ellis Guilford School where she worked with coach Daljit. Sally joined ThinkForward in 2016 and instantly embraced the benefits of the coaching relationship and the opportunities the programme provided.

Sally is now 18 and a care assistant in a residential home. In the summer she was one of our Coronavirus Community Heroes, in recognition of her incredible resilience and frontline work during the pandemic. Her ambition is to work in the NHS.

Sally said: ‘By being a young trustee on the ThinkForward board I aspire to bring more opportunity and equality to all young people. ThinkForward helped me by developing my self-assurance, resilience and drive. My mission is to help ThinkForward grow and be accessible to more young people. I feel one of this generations’ biggest challenges is overcoming mental health issues so young people can become who they dream to be.’

Our second young trustee is Dan Easterbrook. Dan is from Dorset and works for the Civil Service. He was inspired to join the board due to his own experiences as a person with Cerebral Palsy Hemiplegia. Dan set up a digital community for people with Cerebral Palsy Hemiplegia, where nearly 400 people can support each other to tackle and share solutions to the barriers, challenges, and problems they face. Dan is also an ambassador for the Young Trustees Movement.

Dan, who is 22, said: ‘I would not be where I am today without coaching and mentorship, which enabled me to overcome the obstacles and labels I have been subject to as a disabled person. I cannot wait to use my experience having overcome those barriers to support, amplify and champion incredible young people as a trustee for ThinkForward.’

Our chair Charlie Green welcomed the two new trustees to the board: ‘Sally and Dan are both incredibly impressive individuals and I am delighted they are joining ThinkForward’s board. Their appointments form part of ThinkForward’s pledge to support young people to develop their voice and influence. As we start to implement a new five-year strategy, they will play a significant role in our governance and they are uniquely placed to support the board to better understand the challenges young people face today.’


ThinkForward and Bird & Blend ChariTEA partnership – developing young people’s employabiliTEA

We were delighted to be Bird & Blend’s ChariTEA partner for April to June. We had a lot of fun working with the amazing team  and meeting some of their wonderful customers through a virtual tea break.

Our young people took part in an inspiring and informative online Q&A with Bird & Blend founder, Krisi, to learn more about entrepreneurship. It was a brilliant session for anyone interested in setting up their own business or who just wanted to learn more about what it takes to be successful at work.

Young people on our programme also got involved in Bird & Blend’s PosTEA campaign, writing letters to people feeling isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope the letters, along with a lovely gift of tea, will give people a bit of a boost during these still difficult times.

Bird & Blend customers raised funds for ThinkForward by buying the Mint Choc Roobios tea, with proceeds donated to our work. The money will go towards our work with young people, supporting them to raise their aspirations, develop their skills for work and life, and achieve a better and brighter future.

We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone at Bird & Blend, especially founder Krisi, customer experience manager Georgina and the team at the Islington store in London who nominated us for the partnership.

If you or your company are interested in developing a partnership with ThinkForward, please get in touch with We would love to hear from you! You find out more about how to get support us here.


Securing young people’s futures in a Covid-disrupted world

Our virtual event ‘Securing young people’s futures in a Covid-disrupted world’ threw up plenty of themes and ideas between panellist and guests, as we discussed how to ensure young people’s employment prospects are not lost to the economic fall out of the pandemic.

The event was opened and closed by our CEO Ashley McCaul and expertly moderated by Rosa Morgan-Baker, director of development at Skills Builder.

The heavyweight panel included Baroness Barran MBE, Minister for Civil Society at DCMS, Tony Wilson, director at the Institute for Employment Studies, Chloe Thorogood, a ThinkForward alumna and project worker at Leap Confronting Conflict, Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North, Rebekah Kofo-Kasumu, associate director and finance business partner at ICG (and one of our business mentors) and Jill Baker, former executive principal at George Green’s School in east London and a ThinkForward trustee.

Panellists were joined by more than 100 guests from the education, employment and youth sectors. Everyone was in agreement that the situation facing young people is a serious crisis, with the potential to affect their immediate and long-term outcomes. A young person who struggles to find any or well-paid employment now, is at risk of also harming their career and pay prospects in the future.

Tony Wilson from the Institute for Employment Studies who partnered with us to host the event, stressed the importance of not permanently losing young people to the damage caused by Covid to the labour market. But there was also acknowledgement that it’s not always easy for employers to navigate the myriad of schemes that are available to them to support young people, and the role the sector has to play in supporting employers to take up these opportunities.  Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North also added: ‘I think local authorities are well-placed to “host” the liaison between business, young people and schools, creating a single point of access.’

Our alumna Chloe spoke about the importance of young people developing a personal brand that works both on and offline and her own appreciation of being an apprentice. She said: ‘I was so lucky to have an apprenticeship with ThinkForward, it really propelled me into the working world. I was only 16 and didn’t realise how important it was going to be.’

Baroness Barran pointed out that apprenticeships spend is £2.5bn, double what it was ten years ago and that the government’s ambition is to triple the number of traineeships. She said: ‘They are helpful planks in the strategy to support young people into employment.’

Baroness Barran also spoke about the importance of new KickStart Scheme: ‘It’s really important because it gives young people great experience over six months, and takes the risk away from employers, making it very easy for them to do the right thing.’

There was recognition for the work ThinkForward does preparing young people for employment. Jill Baker who has first-hand experience of ThinkForward’s work as the former head of a school we work in, and who is now a trustee said: ‘I would like to see a ThinkForward-type coach for all our disadvantaged children.’

Job Centre Plus work with large numbers of young people, making it hard for them to really get to know a young person and personalise their advice. DWP’s Youth Hubs however, were identified as a great opportunity to work directly in communities and reach the right young people.

Providing mentoring and access to the workplace for young people was widely agreed to be vital. Chloe spoke passionately about the positive impact mentoring had on her and Rebekah from ICG, who mentors ThinkForward students at an alternative provision school in east London, spoke about the value of opening doors to young people:  ‘When I was at school I had no idea about financial services but I’m a chartered accountant now. We need to bring young people into businesses so they can see what is out there.’

Alex Norris, agreed and had a call to action for businesses: ‘I want employers to be proactive and to offer placements/mentoring/shadowing to young people that would not get to access them otherwise.’

There was widespread understanding that the situation is different across the country. We need regional knowledge to fully understand the labour market and barriers (ie poor public transport), but also local opportunities.

Going forward, young people’s lack of access to technology, which was brought to the fore during lockdown, is recognised as still being a critical issue to be resolved. If schools do have to close again we will still have young people unable to learn effectively because they don’t have the IT resources they need. In addition, to look for work and to work remotely, every young person needs to have the right technology in place. Without it they cannot compete in the jobs market on a level playing field.

ThinkForward continues to help young people on the programme to access grants so that technology is not a barrier to their progress.

Click on the link below to view a highlights video of the event. If you would like a copy of the full recording please contact

You can watch the opening film from our event here:

You can view the closing film here: