Government scheme helps Wandsworth trainees Kickstart charity careers

The Government’s Kickstart scheme has helped five trainees land roles at Citizens Advice Wandsworth (CAW), with two more opportunities potentially on the way. 

The scheme, which began on 2 September 2020 and closed for applications on Wednesday, grants employers funding for new job roles for 16 to 24-year-olds who are currently recipients of Universal Credit.

CAW, an independent charity that provides information, advice and support for the people of Wandsworth, has now applied to the scheme for funding for two further trainees, having been a part of it since May.

Mary-Ann Foxwell, Chief Executive at CAW, said: “Our Kickstart trainees have all been fabulous additions to our team. 

“Not only are they helping us to better meet the pandemic-related increase in demand for our advice services, they have also brought new energy and local knowledge to the organisation”

Of CAW’s five appointees, two have now taken up paid positions within the charity, while two others are employed as trainee Adviceline assessors and the fifth left after her placement to have a child.

The scheme has seen CAW reimbursed for the trainees’ salaries, up to the national minimum wage, by the Department for Work and Penions, while it has also received £1,500 one-off payments for each new-starter. 

Suzan Malakh, who joined the charity as part of the Kickstart scheme and now works as a trainee foodbank adviser, said: “As someone who recently graduated, job hunting during the pandemic had left me feeling hopeless.

“Working as a Kickstart trainee at Citizens Advice Wandsworth was great, the volunteers and staff were so supportive and welcoming, and I learnt so many new skills. 

“I am very thankful to get the opportunity to work for an organisation that supports and puts the local community at the forefront.”

Suzan Malakh at a Wandsworth Foodbank centre. Credit: courtesy of Citizens Advice Wandsworth.

Young people have been hit hard economically by the pandemic, with those under 35 accounting for over 80% of the jobs lost during the first year of the pandemic.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also found in a survey published this July, that two thirds of 18 to 29-year-olds were worried about their household’s finances and overall social and economic well-being.

Wandsworth Borough Council assisted CAW in providing the new-starters with a full training programme and the support of an experienced supervisor.

Wandsworth Council leader Cllr Ravi Govindia said: “We are delighted to have supported Citizens Advice Wandsworth to recruit and train these new staff members.

“They have first-hand experience of how the pandemic has affected the borough’s young people and will be well-placed to offer advice and support to others. 

“We wish them well with their future careers.” 

Featured image credit: courtesy of Citizens Advice Wandsworth.

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