Youth unemployment tackled in Vauxhall breakfast seminar


Mentoring is vital in helping young people into work.


By Molly Kersey 

A breakfast seminar to highlight the importance of mentoring in tackling youth unemployment was held in Vauxhall on Tuesday.

The seminar was held in the basketball arena at the Black Prince Community Hub and was attended by youth workers, MPs from the local area and government officials, all hoping to tackle the issue. 

The event showcased the unique ‘Street Elite’ training for work initiative which will soon be coming to Roehampton, as well as opening up a wider discussion about government policies, roles of businesses and the practical delivery of programmes which aim to get young people engaged.

Speakers at the seminar explained how ‘Street Elite’ can be used as a context for personal change and helps get young people into work by teaching them the useful characteristics that employers want such as communication, motivation and time keeping.

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “I was so impressed by the power of this programme.

“It’s about giving young people opportunities and if you give them opportunities through sport they learn all kinds of disciplines.”

The initial sessions are a commitment of two hours a week which participants are paid to attend.

The motivation is the money and then the goals and aspirations hopefully overtake that money,” said Street Elite programme manager Si Ledwith.

“This is not about sport, it’s all about employability or getting them back into education.”

A crucial part of the programme is the mentoring aspect, with intense regular interaction and support from the coaches guiding young people through the programme and helping to get them engaged.

The coach mentors maintain consistent contact with the young people on the programme to provide them with constant reminders that they have someone looking out for them.

“You could be their only support network,” said Alex Bassan from Cricket for Change.  “It’s that one phone call, that one text that can make all the difference.”

Brett Grace completed the programme and is now an assistant construction site manager with the Berkeley group.

“The street elite guys come across as they actually care what you do and where you’re going,” he said.

Professor Sue Maguire, from the University of Warwick, spoke at the seminar to explain the worrying growth of 16-18 year olds whose status is ‘unknown’ by region, with 11.6% of young people classified as this in London in 2012.

Professor Maguire said that mentoring and intensive support would be the lynchpin to getting these young people engaged again and that the development of trust and a sustained one to one relationship is key to this process.

“There are no quick fixes here very often,” said Professor Maguire. “Surely it’s worth the investment if we are going to avoid a lost generation.”

The ‘Street Elite’ programme is a five year initiative and they are now in their second year.

After the recruitment and mentoring stages participants become involved in community engagement where they begin running sports sessions on local estates, before showcasing their skills at a sports festival.

Every person who gets to this stage of the programme is then offered a work experience placement with an allowance given to them for travel and food.

For more information please visit or call 020 8669 2177.

Photo courtesy of [nelo], with thanks.

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