Kerona* started Give & Take in summer 2016 and at the time was volunteering at a dog groomers. She took part in Give & Take on a one-to-one basis so that she could complete the employability and personal development aspects of the programme while still being able to volunteer a few days a week.
Kerona started to feel unhappy in her placement and although she still enjoyed dog grooming, decided to leave her placement. Give & Take staff identified another work placement for Kerona at the USPCA animal hospital in Newry three days a week. She settled in really well, liked the team and enjoyed the range of tasks she was given. After four weeks Kerona met with the Careers Service to make plans for her future and she agreed the best route to eventually running her own dog grooming salon was the Work It Programme.
Work It would provide her with 30 hours paid work every week for 11 months and help her gain the skills and knowledge in this area of work. They also would support her with work-based training and specialist training in dog grooming and animal care.
Kerona says that Give & Take gave her the confidence to explore a range of work experience options.
"At first I didn't think I would like the Animal Hospital as I wasn't interested in the veterinary side of things. I liked the care and grooming of animals, especially dogs. However after visiting the USPCA I instantly knew I would like to work there and it has broadened my horizons into other types of work, for example the rescuing and re-homing of animals, which I didn't really think I would enjoy," she said.
Kerona is still supported by Include Youth through transitional support and will avail of this service, in a phased out way, for up to 12 months as she moves on from Give & Take.
Jane* has been a part of Include Youth for three years, and has been through a range of programmes during this time. Jane faces a lot of barriers in gaining employment, from living a general chaotic lifestyle, drug and alcohol misuse, self- harming and lack of confidence and belonging, due to moving accommodations often and being in the care system.
Jane has been a part of numerous employability programmes and had managed to gain a casual hour contracted job, however she did not feel she was ready to sustain the role. At this moment Jane is currently completing community service from a range of events that have happened over the last few months.
The peer mentors from our Meant to Work programme meet with Jane each week for one to one sessions to discuss what is going on in her life, thinking of action plans and goal settings, sexual health advice and generally giving her that space to talk. In order to use this time with Jane well and keep within the employment aspect, the peer mentors will complete an OCN level 2 in vocational studies, will include a potential placement, arrange work tours and track Jane’s development over the next few months, to hopefully see a change in her motivation and self-confidence.
Helen* was referred to the Give & Take 1-2-1 when she was 16 years old by her social worker. She was always bright and bubbly however her social worker was concerned that she had left school with no formal qualifications and was not accessing any form of education, training or employment opportunities. She had also been deemed by the PSNI to be a significant risk of sexual exploitation.
There were many attempts to engage Helen in training but none were successful, due mainly to her low confidence and chaotic lifestyle, which included being 'missing' from the family home a lot. Her mum was unable to cope with the situation, so Helen was placed in the care system and is currently residing in a children's home.
Based on her needs, a programme was put in place to address personal development, training and work placement opportunities with her on a one-to-one basis. During her time on Give & Take 1-2-1 her engagement in the programme has suffered at times due to a range of issues and situations that arose in her life. However, overall her commitment and attendance to the programme has been very good and a vast improvement on previous experiences.
She has completed a work placement with a local animal sanctuary, has achieved her Essential Skills Level 3 in ICT, Level 2 in Numeracy and Literacy, Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award and a range of OCN Level 1 qualifications in personal development and employability. Helen now feels ready to move onto full time training and has just secured a place with a local training organisation to study an NVQ Level 2 in Beauty. Her social worker said:
"I have found Give & Take 1-2-1 (a specialist programme) to be an invaluable resource for Helen. She is a young person who had significant difficulties within the school setting and was deemed as a very significant risk of sexual exploitation. Give & Take 1-2-1 offered her a consistent positive relationship in respect of her education, which was flexible and responsive to her ever changing situation – I am not aware of any other programme which would have offered her that level of consistency, yet flexibility. Due to Helen having periods of being 'missing' she would have been asked to leave most other programmes.
"A very strong component of this programme was the 1-2-1 relationship which was offered to Helen through her youth worker, which led to her engaging in the direct education components of the programme – this person was pro-active with Helen and this is something which is very often not present in other programmes. It was this which was key to engaging Helen directly with the tutors. Helen is now coming to the end of her time on the programme. She is leaving with qualifications, which she would not have obtained without this programme, and has a positive move on to a full-time training programme in place. This programme has been a crucial part of Helen's positive progress and reduction in risk."
My name is Gary* and I started Give and Take Scheme in Newtownards in 2014. I am currently studying maths, English and ICT and also enjoy the work prep and Activate health & fitness programme. I am interested in pursuing a career in retail when I am older, but had no experience in this area.
As part of my Give & Take programme, I have started volunteering with the local Simon Community charity shop. This is great as it gives me some retail experience, but it is also in a quieter environment, which means the managers and other volunteers can help and support me. Some of the things I do include sorting donations, tidying and restocking shelves, and maintain the clothes section.
My placement is good because I live quite close to it, and the other volunteers are easy to get on with, and very supportive.
Florence* started to engage with the Give & Take in the Southern Trust area in June 2016 and initially expressed an interest in being part of Give & Take: Core, the group-based programme with other young care leavers.
In order to take part, Florence had to get the bus there and back three days a week, however she found this challenging and struggled to engage after the first few sessions. After a discussion it was agreed that she might be better suited to one-to-one environment, in order to get to know staff better and build her confidence away from the group setting.
Youth worker Helena met her for personal development, employability and literacy once a week. Initially Florence did not turn up for any of Helena's appointments as she was leaving her supported accommodation at 9am and not returning until late at night, so engaging with her was proving difficult.
However, Helena adapted her timetable in order to accommodate Florence and met with her early in the morning before she left her supported accommodation. This worked really well and now Florence is showing lots of enthusiasm and loves all the progress she makes when she does engage.
She now also meets with our Essential Skills tutors Stephen for Literacy and Kim for Maths on a one-to-one basis, and has gained Level 2 qualifications in both subjects. Both tutors felt she worked extremely hard and showed positive signs of engagement with them. Helena also worked closely with her, supporting her to complete OCN qualifications in employment.
Quite quickly it was clear that Florence had a passion for working with horses and was also really keen to learn more about domestic services in a hospital setting. With this in mind, Helena arranged for Florence to visit local stables and chat to the owner about volunteering opportunities, she really enjoyed this and expressed an interest in doing a work taster at the stables and possibly volunteering once a week. Florence is also due to visit South Tyrone Hospital soon to speak with the Domestic Services manager about different roles, how to apply for jobs and hopefully secure a taster or placement.
Feedback from her social worker and PA has been very positive, as they had previously found it difficult to get Florence to engage with people and stick programmes out to the end. Staff from Give & Take and her support workers in BCM have said they have seen a big improvement in her confidence and self esteem in the last few months. Helena says:
"Being able to offer a one-to-one service to young people like Florence, who are not quite able to cope in a group setting, is very important as many do want to be engaged with some form of education, employment or training."
Fergus* had been referred to Meant to Work from another employability based programme that Meant to Work partner with. Fergus is not care experienced, however has had years of broken family dynamics and lives in supported accommodation.
Fergus has not had previous employment due to his time served in the Youth Justice System and having a criminal record. This was a major barrier for Fergus to access employment.
He began with one to one support from the Meant to Work team, developing his CV, looking at different job roles and having a go at applying for jobs. He attended one interview and found that his original interest in construction was still what he wanted to do. Through the Ready to Work fund Fergus gained his first CSR card which allowed him to work for a year to gain experience and he has now successfully gained his full licence CSR card and started a full time permanent job.
Fergus has said “just having someone to help get your foot in the door has been helpful; I didn’t know where to go or how much it would cost to get my CSR card but now I am fully licenced and I can start making a life for myself “
B* is 19 years old and lives independently in county Antrim. She was referred to the Give and Take Scheme in April 2012 and remained on the scheme until March 2014.
B did not settle well into the scheme for six months and her attendance and reliability was under constant review. After a short work taster in a youth club and further work experience in the offices of local MLA's she decided she would like to peruse a career in youth work.
During her time on the scheme she achieved 15 qualifications including her essential skills level 2 in literacy.
Include Youth's transitional support service came into contact with B while she had six months to remaining on the scheme. The first opportunity open to her was the chance to study for her level 2 introduction to youth work. B completed this short course and was successful.
It soon became clear that her academic essential skills were not being given the same attention as her vocational training, and helping her strike a balance was needed to ensure that she would have the full suite of qualifications required to progress into university and employment.
B responded well to this action plan and has managed her time well. In October B was given the opportunity to study her OCN level 3 peace apprenticeship, this was a one day a week course with a vocational placement and an expectation on independent learning to succeed. B submitted her portfolio, has completed the course and has applied to the University of Ulster.
My name is Alison* and I attend Give & Take Scheme in Newtownards. I am currently working on ICT, maths, English and employability qualifications, as well as participating in the personal development programme. My plan is to pursue a career in childcare and I hope to start a level 2 childcare course this September at the South Eastern Regional College. I am working hard to achieve the necessary qualifications that I need to be accepted on the course.
I started a childcare placement at Tot Spot in Newtownards, where I am tasked with cleaning the toys and setting up the children's play area, including getting the crafts table ready. I then work alongside the kids, doing arts and crafts, help prepare lunch and tidy up after the children. After lunch time, the children have song and story time, and as my confidence increases, I'll start to get involved more with this.
I really enjoy my placement, and although I haven't been doing it for long, I know that it's going to help increase my confidence and learn new skills, which will be really beneficial when I start college in September.
Speaking at today's Celebration Event.
My first time on the Give and Take Scheme was in 2013 I was on the scheme for one year, I did achieve some qualifications however I had a lot going on in my personal life which meant most days the last thing I was thinking about was Give and Take. After leaving the Scheme I volunteered in a soup kitchen in a retirement home and soon realised how important it was to gain my qualifications. I called in to see Dominic and Deborah to ask for my place back. Within a few months I achieved my Level 2 Maths, Level 2 ICT and I am working on my Level 1 in English.