Building Better Opportunities is a programme jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. Petroc’s partnership will be using the funding to deliver a unique project for 18 to 24-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training. Called Empowering Enterprise, the programme will seek to engage over 600 of Devon’s most socially-excluded young people and work with them to develop their employability and life skills giving them the confidence to return to employment, education or training.
Unemployed or economically inactive 18 to 24-year-olds most at risk of social exclusion.
Each young person engaged in the project will have a ‘key contact’, who will work with them to get to know them and develop a relationship of trust; identify the young person’s strengths, talents and barriers and co-design a person-centred package of activities, including supported referrals. Participants will work with their key contact to identify the most appropriate progression route, and key contacts will continue providing support to achieve a sustainable progression.
For some, this coaching and mentoring support will be sufficient, but most will need more intensive support to overcome their barriers and progress, so our project will also offer the opportunity for young people to co-design and co-produce a programme of activities to develop skills, (work) experience and knowledge which are valued by employers and help improve quality of life, promote community engagement and enable young people to become vehicles for change within their local communities.
Young people will be encouraged to work in teams, but may work individually where appropriate. They will be supported by a team leader to co-design and co-produce activities to achieve the following five outcomes:
- Young people have developed a range of employability and life skills such as team working, confidence, emotional resilience, communication, planning, organisation, presentation, leadership, financial budgeting, independent living;
- Young people have a better knowledge and understanding of their local community, including local services and businesses, and have identified local challenges and gaps in provision;
- Young people have designed and delivered a significant project which has both addressed a local identified need/gap and has enabled the young people to develop and demonstrate the skills required to be successful in employment and life;
- Young people have made a positive difference to their local community and have made positive intergenerational and cross-sectional connections.
Key contacts and team leaders will engage volunteers to support teams/individuals in their activities, including local employers to increase awareness of what employers look for; peer mentors and other mentors eg veterans; and community volunteers eg those engaged by organisations including CAB. Guided reflection will improve understanding of and embed lessons learnt.
Each young person’s length of engagement with the project will vary to meet individual need but on average is likely to be up to a year. Progression will be encouraged as soon as is realistic and key partners will work in clusters to develop tailored support to secure sustained progression routes.
Young people can join the project at any time and be supported immediately. Activity will not be restricted to Mon-Fri 9-5. Childcare/other support will be available if needed. If young people drop out, we will facilitate reintegration if appropriate and possible. Drop-in support will be available after formal participation has ended.
Empowering Enterprise 18-24 has 4 main project outcomes:
- Young people participating in the project have improved their employability, entrepreneurial and life skills
- Existing support services are more visible and accessible to young people and their communities and are more sustainable
- Communities and businesses are more cohesive and resilient
- Project partner organizations have increased their capacity and capability to support young people through a more joined-up approach, sharing of best practice and access to training and resources
Within Empowering Enterprise there is a strong focus on constant evaluation and assessment of the provision, the partnership and the management of the contract. The evaluation is being carried out by an external evaluation partner, Devon Communities Together. Ongoing evaluation enables Petroc and the partnership to examine and improve on performance continuously for the benefit of the participants and the wider community. Click here to read the first project evaluation report, and click here to read the conference evaluation report.