For the last 3 years we’ve supported a number of Tower Hamlets EBP programmes including Reading and Maths Partners, Computer Partners, Business Enterprise & Employability Programmes, their Alumni Network and now their pre-GCSE careers programme, Getting Ahead.
Getting Ahead is a unique programme of employability skills based conferences for Tower Hamlets secondary schools. Volunteers work with small groups of students through several workshops across a day or two day conference. The aim of the programme is to prepare students for the world of work by encouraging them to think about the skills and qualities they have as well as those they may need to develop or improve. Through businesses like Interxion students participating in Tower Hamlets EBP programmes are afforded access to choices, support and opportunities that may otherwise be out of reach.
Students in Tower Hamlets live amongst some of the most deprived conditions in the UK, with child poverty at 46% in the borough*. Further to this, 90 different languages are spoken in the borough and this can also lead to further hindrances in a student’s progress through school. The Getting Ahead Programme allows students to meet adults outside of their normal social circle who have practical experience in the hurdles they will face as they begin their careers.
At our first workshop we worked with 60 students, teaching them about making first impressions, reviewing and re-drafting their CV’s. There were also team building exercises where we tackled complex scenarios of relaunching failing (fictitious) businesses.
“Students tell us about the difference that volunteers make – how they encourage our young people, building their confidence while giving them practical help and advice. We’ve had ex-Tower Hamlets students who took part in our programmes as children come back to volunteer themselves because they remember the impact a volunteer had on them several years before!” said Ian Pope, Senior Manager – Employability, Enterprise & Financial Skills Team.
And volunteering works both ways. It’s not just the students who develop confidence and raise their aspirations/ Volunteers themselves develop their own leadership, communication, problem solving and adaptability skills.
“Getting Ahead was not only a great way of interacting with our local community, but also an excellent learning experience,” said Clinton Hasell, Vice President, Commercial Strategy and Marketing at Interxion. “The materials provided by Tower Hamlet EBP provide a great lesson of the dos and don’ts of CV writing, interviewing etc. All of these are core skills needed when job hunting. The day was very rewarding both personally and professionally. I highly recommended it.”
It was a fantastic experience as we saw young adults gradually gain confidence through the day and begin to understand (and get excited!) about opportunities on their horizon.
“At Tower Hamlets EBP we are dedicated to helping young people learn more, do more and become more. To do that though, we rely on the enthusiasm, energy and hard work of our volunteers. Without them, we simply could not do the work we do,” said Ian Pope.