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Inspired Volunteers helps NEET young people into work or study

Inspired Volunteers is a new project delivered by Inspire! working in partnership with training and youth organisations across five London boroughs. The programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Mayor of London.

The initiative aims to support unemployed young people (16-24) across North and East London into work or further study through employability training and volunteering with Team London, the Mayor of London’s volunteering initiative. Robin Childs, Assistant Director at Inspire!, says: “Inspired Volunteers aims to harness the benefits of volunteering, work experience and personalised support to overcome barriers to progression and both motivate and prepare young people for employment or further study.”

The scheme got underway in mid-July with around 30 people already enrolled. The target for the whole programme is 120 to be back into EET (education, employment or training) by September 2015, with Inspire! responsible for 66 of those. Candidates have already benefitted from a one-to-one session with a key worker, a CV workshop and a day’s training with Team London on how to become an effective Team London Ambassador.

Shauna Dardis and Naima Ussen are two of seven Hackney residents who have volunteered as London Ambassadors at the Tower of London. Both girls left school in June having completed their BTEC studies. Shauna would ideally like to work with animals and Naima may go to university at a later stage but favours a career in banking or business.

“They (Inspire!) did a presentation about the course. It gives you loads of help and has already helped us with our CVs,” said Shauna. “We both want to work and this seemed like a good way to find what we want.” Naima added: “It’s also a good way to try things out. I wouldn’t want to commit to a job I thought I wanted to do and then find out it’s not what I want.”

The girls admit they were not really sure what to expect from volunteering and were a bit nervous about having to deal with the general public. “It’s been really good. The rest of the team here has been friendly and all the people who ask us questions have been nice too – even if we don’t speak the same language,” Naima says. “It’s been good to build our confidence and help us talk to people we’ve never met before.”

Duncan Rosie, Senior Operations, Team London, said: “All of the Hackney volunteers have responded well to the intensive training and done a great job. Now they are trained as London Ambassadors they can register to volunteer with us at any time in the future. Volunteering is a great way to try something new for free, plus it builds self-confidence and skills like team work, communication and customer service, which are all transferable to the world of work.”

All of the participants on the Inspired Volunteers programme will undergo a three-week personalised training programme, one or two days volunteering with Team London and a week’s work placement. They will have regular meetings with their assigned key worker who will support them in finding a job, apprenticeship or college course. Support will continue until each participant has been in employment or at college for at least six months.

Shauna and Naima are due to go on work experience placements in October. Shauna has been found a provisional place with a dog grooming parlour and walking service whilst Naima has been placed with a bank.