Supporting young people into employment and training
In June 2020, the Clashindarroch Fund awarded £4,369.90 to Barnardo’s to enable the purchase of ten laptops with SIM cards to support young people participating in the Rural Steps employability project based in Huntly.
Rural Steps provides long-term support to young people on a one-to-one and small group basis, focusing on targeted employability and skills training. When the project started, it soon became apparent that most of the young people supported did not have access to a computer at home, which limited their ability to complete job applications/CVs or participate in online training when not attending the project base at Gordon Rural Action in Huntly.
The need for participants to have access to a computer at home became vital when restrictions came into place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Clashindarroch grant allowed Barnardo's to purchase ten Chromebooks with 4G SIM Cards to give online access. These were lent out to young people supported by Rural Steps.
The computers allowed one-to-one support sessions and group activities to continue during lockdowns on a virtual basis. These helped young people with employability skills - they also played an essential role in reducing isolation at a difficult time. As well as working on their CVs and employability skills, participants were able to take online courses such as those offered free of charge by the Open University, which enabled some of the young people to complete introductory certificated courses in various disciplines ranging from Marine Conservation to Cyber Security.
The project supported 15 young people during 2020/21 through work placements, taster days with third sector agencies, online learning, digital skills, and CV writing. Seven of these young people have moved into work, and three have progressed into further training. The project continues to work with four young people, and 10-15 new referrals were anticipated in the second half of 2021.
Results of feedback from young people who have been supported show:
71% agreed that working with Barnardo's has helped them access digital equipment (laptops/phones etc.) and improve their digital skills.
85% agreed or agreed strongly that they are now more confident they will find work.
100% felt that Barnardo's had maintained good communication during the pandemic.
Feedback from participants showed that the support could be life-changing.
“I think if I had never got any of this support from Barnardo’s I would still be where I was 3 years ago. In a place where I felt I had no future or aspirations. My confidence would still be at an all-time low and I would still be seeking a job. Now, I have a part time job as a receptionist! Never did I ever think I would be able to do a job like this, but it just shows with the right support and encouragement, as well as hard work, anything is possible.”
One participant, suffering from a range of mental health challenges, did not often go out independently, spending a lot of time in his room. However, newfound access to a portable computer means he has begun to leave his room more and socialise more with his family, for example, spending more time in the garden. After having the laptop for a week, he visited the Barnardo's worker to show her a project he was working on and which he had used the new laptop for. He gave incredibly positive feedback about having the equipment and has used it a lot. He had used the laptop to access programming software and build a reader (pictured) that reads files from the laptop and displays air pressure, temperature, date, time, and Unix time.
“He is now actively considering using his skills to try and get into university. This is a massive turnaround for him, and he is beginning to see that his talents and skills could make him a valuable employee.”
Vicky Briggs, Project Worker