We are releasing a new journal called Reflections! This is part research journal to help inform our projects and gauge their success, and part reflective log to assess our experience running different projects. This gives us an opportunity to reflect on and highlight key learnings from the project of focus, make recommendations for ourselves and other organisations, and consider the wider socioeconomic and policy contexts. The focus of this pilot issue is the Kickstart programme.
Kickstart was part of a government scheme aimed at fostering employment for young people aged 16 to 24. Through the three organisations that make up the Hastings Commons and two further partner organisations we employed 16 young people between June 2021 and September 2022. We also provided them with weekly employability training to ensure these participants could learn crucial skills and increase their likelihood of employment going forward.
One of our Kickstarters, anonymous, said: “I truly feel I know so much more now about what to do when seeking work and analysing what employers are looking for now […] Overall, I would recommend the Kickstart scheme to anyone who hasn’t yet had any experience in work, if the scheme still existed.”
Dr Jess Steele, our CEO, said: “Kickstart brought a change in participants’ lives from ‘stuck in Covid’ to ‘out in the world’, leading to huge growth in confidence and capability.”
Our success was largely down to our flexible needs-based approach, tailoring roles to individual participants aimed at building both confidence and capability. We have since directly employed 3 of these ‘Kickstarters’ and continue to engage with others, each of whom contribute to the life and vibrancy of Hastings Commons. Though the government scheme ended in March 2022, its impact was such that we have decided to restart a version of this programme ourselves with the aid of funding from the recently announced Youth Investment Fund (YIF) which you can read more about here. We learnt a lot over the course of this programme and through participant feedback which will ensure the new programme brings continuing impressive results.