2020 ESF case study: Include Youth - Give and Take 2

Give and Take, delivered by Include Youth, aims to improve the employability skills and self-esteem of young people aged 16 to 24 who are not in employment, education or training (NEET), who face complex barriers to engagement, and who come from communities of greatest disadvantage.

The programme

This programme assists young people in progressing into education, employment and/or training. The project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Participant's story

This participant commenced Give and Take Start (Start programme) with the vision of building her confidence and receiving support in applying for a job. When the participant began the programme she was a shy, young mother who acknowledged that since giving birth to her child, she had become isolated from her friends and struggled with social interactions. She wanted to gain employment to take ownership of financial implications in her life and to be seen as more than a ‘stay at home mum’.

Isolated by Covid-19 lockdown

Whilst on the course the participant flourished quickly and when the opportunity to engage with other young mothers was provided to her, she started to relax and realise she wasn’t alone in her thoughts. However as Covid-19 hit Northern Ireland, lockdown affected her participation levels as she had limited access to the internet to attend online Zoom meetings and for weeks relied on phone calls or texts from the group. The participant found herself isolated again due to digital poverty and feared she would return to the shy individual she was when she commenced the programme.

The participant, with support from Start programme staff, established a weekly schedule of things that she could do to keep herself engaged with family and friends and have fun with her child. This was a massive turning point for her, as she took ownership of her life and attempted to make small, positive changes in her routine to improve her mental health.

The participant was paramount in organising sessions with the rest of the group – this involved online games, quizzes and mental health sessions. She showed great leadership skills and was proactive in motivating the group. She became more and more confident and was able to recognise how these new skills would fit into the world of work.

Gaining employment

When an advertisement for a job in her local shop came up, she jumped at the chance to apply, and whilst anxious about interviews, was confident that she had the ability to showcase her talents. Knowledge gained during Open College Network (OCN) learning sessions enabled the participant to apply for the job and prepare for the interview, but it was her new found confidence and commitment to learning and gaining employment that ensured she was successful in getting the new role.

The participant’s future plans are to save some money, gain experience in this job role and then hopefully return to study at university level.

She said,

“Start supported me in a time when I thought I had no future. I have met so many new friends who like me were struggling being young parents and have felt supported through my time on the course. It’s class that I can now say I have a job and have reclaimed positive relationships with my family.”

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