A team at Petroc is celebrating the launch of a brand new website this week, designed to help 18-24 year olds gain employability and life skills to give them the confidence to re-engage with employment, education or training.
The website is part of the Empowering Enterprise project, which is led by the Projects Team at Petroc and funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund as part of a UK-wide Building Better Opportunities project. It is aimed at young people who face some of the biggest barriers to employment, as well as their parents and organisations that support the project.
As part of the project some of Devon’s hardest to reach young people are allocated a mentor to offer one-to-one support and, via the website, they can find out more about the project and how it could help them. There are also case studies and success stories on the site to inspire people to get involved.
Petroc coordinates nine partnership organisations from across the region to work with the young people on the project, with a further 10 organisations that can offer specific support for the delivery partners to access. It first launched in 2017 and is due to run into 2020, and to date has engaged with 305 young people from across Devon.
Lesley Taylor, Projects Manager at Petroc, said: “The participants we work with often have huge emotional barriers, such as social anxiety, preventing them from taking the first few steps towards employment or education. For example, our partners have worked with homeless people and refugees and have had some remarkable success stories.”
Open Doors International Language School in Plymouth is one of the partnership organisations and works with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to provide English and professional development training.
Jo Pickering, Projects Manager at Open Doors, said: “The Empowering Enterprise project has allowed us to increase our capacity and knowledge by supporting our younger students in a variety of ways; from taking them volunteering in the local community to helping with further education applications. In some cases the students we work with have only been in the country a matter of months, so this project has become a lifeline to them as they navigate the new places, systems and culture that surround them.”
Jo is currently working with Khaled, who has recently moved to the UK and is planning to open a halloumi business. He attended the Devon BAME Awards with Jo and has also visited a cheese factory, in preparation for starting his business. Jo added: “Often our students just need someone to take a chance on them, and show them that a dream job is within everyone’s reach.”
The feedback from the students involved has been very positive. Ahmed said: “I am very happy with this project and I learnt how to pronounce English words and I started to feel the love of life and learnt to aim for the best. In the past I was afraid of lots of people in one place, but with Jo, my mentor, it has become much easier.”
Throughout the year there are planned events to help participants connect with their community, such as a Social Fair which will take place at Georgie’s in Barnstaple on the evening of Thursday 14 March where young people can hear about opportunities to meet people and learn new skills through local social groups.
Visit www.empoweringenterprise.org.uk to find out more about the project and upcoming events.