Taunton Vale Rotary Club is Making a Difference
Some 4 years ago members of Taunton Vale Rotary Club asked the question "What can we do which will meet a need in our society at a time of deep recession?" Discussions followed with members of the Somerset County Council Care Team which led to the development of a project which seeks to help young people leaving care get onto the employment ladder.
Nationally, the number of young people leaving care is increasing year-on-year with a 22% increase in the past 5 years. In Somerset currently over 60 per cent of care leavers are not in education, employment or training. This compares with a figure of 10% for the general population.
In developing the project it became clear the Care Team were not able to access enough private sector businesses willing to provide short work experience placements. If the young people are to properly engage with employment, the placements need to be in work sectors they are interested in. If a teenage care leaver shows interest in becoming a hairdresser or a mechanic then making tea and filing paperwork in a council office is not likely to get them out of bed in the morning.
The Making a Difference project seeks to improve their employment prospects by building confidence, improving application and interview skills, and providing short work experience placements. Members of Taunton Vale Rotary Club, joined recently by colleagues of the Bridgwater Rotary Club, support the project by introducing private sector employers to the SCC Targeted Youth Support team who deliver the project programme.
Aided by the Support team, employers will be supportive and understanding of the needs of care leavers who have often been subject to a chaotic and challenging life journey, and recognise the social and emotional impact this can represent on a daily basis. By providing short term workplace experience they start the journey for such a disadvantaged young person to move from care dependence to working independence.
Now 2 years old the Making a Difference project has enabled 32 young people to complete work experience placements and 45 have been supported to develop their employability skills. Almost half of the young people engaged in the project have achieved an Experience of Work Award. Eight have got a job, two have started college, and one has gained an apprenticeship placement proving the value of this community service inspired project.
If you are an employer and would like an Employer's Guide information leaflet about the Making a Difference project please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org