Having been mums at the school gate discussing the future of our children and their individual challenges, given a difficult economy and rising youth unemployment, we were trying to figure out why many young people are struggling to find any kind of work. We realised that many lacked the confidence and communication skills to gain employment regardless of their academic or intellectual abilities; from the straight "A" students with first class degrees, to those that had no formal qualifications at all. We felt that young vulnerable people were particularly disadvantaged, and wanted to find a way to engage them in gaining these skills.
Anna's background in training and corporate sector, and Lynne's blend of teaching, fostering and corporate recruitment seemed to provide a strong combination of both professional and lived experience to understand the challenges faced by young people and create a programme to support their journey into the world of work.
So we set about creating a delivery toolkit of easy to follow, activity-based lesson plans aimed at developing young people's employability skills that could be used in various settings - schools, colleges, school referral units, job clubs, community centres etc. We had support and input from young people, qualified teachers, social workers, media graduates and professionals in the recruitment and business world.
The entire project followed the principle of getting young people engaged and developing their employability skills from communication to networking through their roles in working with us. We were very fortunate and received a start-up project award from Unltd to help in piloting the workshops.
In the process of creating these materials, our idea expanded as we discovered that many organisations and groups are all working to support young people in developing their employability skills but often providers were simply not aware of all the resources available to them. We thought we could find a way of bringing groups together to meet our common goals through mutual collaboration.
After a successful pilot and starting our programme delivery working both within schools and community, we realised that many young people need the support to extend past the selivery of a session or series of workshops. They wanted to be able to call and chat/review aspects they had learned as they were trying to implement things in their daily lives. Furthermore, even those that had successfully found employment would within 3-6 months, often be back in touch to discuss why they had been unable to sustain employment.
We quickly realised that mental health was having a huge long term impact and started working with them to improve their mental health, wellbeing and resilience. The ability to open up and discuss some of their experiences was the beginning of our trauma-informed journey, as we realised that parents seemed to have affected so many of our young people negatively and we decided to develop our offer and work with parents too.
This quickly lead us back to mental health and the intergenerational trauma of adverse childhood experiences. We realised that we needed to support our families with a new approach. We reflected on our own experiences recognising the impact for ourselves and the difficulties and development of our own life journey.
We needed to share this with others and support them to understand the impact of their ACEs and support their healing; empowering them to improve their mental health, wellbeing and resilience and live happy healthy lives with the ability to acheive their full potential.
So the question became, "How exactly will we do this?".......