Effective Partnerships

Working with Barnados

Working with BarnadosThe ‘Options Project’ is a ‘Big Lottery’ funded service for 16 to 25 year olds living in Wrexham who are leaving care and are NEET (not in education, employment or training). It’s a 4 year funded programme which began in summer 2010.

The lead agency for the project is Barnardos with Careers Wales North East partnering alongside CAIS Drug and Alcohol Agency Ltd. The aim of the project is to support NEET care-leavers back into education, employment and training (EET) by engaging them in positive activities, developing life skills and improving basic skills, and increasing knowledge and awareness of EET through placements, volunteering and short courses.

Although some of the participants need support on a one to one basis, most of the young people engage onto a Careers Wales programme called ‘Elev8’, which runs for 4 weeks. This programme includes topics such as following instructions, lateral thinking, CV writing, interview skills, an employer’s perspective, education and training research and communication and body language skills. Part of the programme also gives the young people opportunities like orienteering, attending various activities and events such as a Leaving Care Conference and visiting places like the Royal Mail, a local college and a Training Provider.

In addition, the delivery of the programme involves input from a Therapeutic Intervention Worker who supports young people with personal issues such as substance misuse that may prevent them from engaging in activities. A Project Worker, who provides practical support such as transport and childcare to individuals when they need it, is also on hand.

After the initial 4 weeks, the participants are handed back to Barnardos for their staff to deliver activities which build on the skills and experience introduced in the Elev8 programme.

Calum who is 17 and recently took part in the programme said, “What I’ve liked on the Elev8 course is the atmosphere. I liked the ice skating too. It was ages since I last went and I really enjoyed it. Oh and the cooking was very useful I learnt how to make tuna pasta bake. I wasn’t a big fan of the mock interview but it was definitely helpful."

So far, 15 young care-leavers have participated in the Options Project, each one creating a personal development plan for themselves. Child care has been provided for one young lady, the life skills of 6 young people have shown improvement, 4 young people entered further learning, 3 were helped to find some voluntary work and one young man into employment.

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