Day 26 – March 18, 2015 The sun, the sun, the sun!! Finally! Now I …
Day 5 – February 25, 2015
First visit to the Prince’s Trust
This morning I was met at the Bullring Market by Jane and together we walked over to the Custard Factory where one of the offices of the Prince’s Trust is located. I was intrigued by the name and discovered that a man by the name of Alfred Bird, a qualified chemist and druggist invented instant egg-free Custard powder 1837 to cater to his wife Elizabeth’s allergy to eggs and yeast. Having had great reactions from those who tasted it, he decided that it had enormous commercial potential and, as they say, the rest is history! The ‘factory’ is now home to over 400 creative and digital companies.
The Prince’s Trust, the charity founded in 1976 by Prince Charles, focuses on assisting 4 main target groups within the age group 13-30, although the core age is 17-25. The key groups young people who are unemployed, who have been in trouble with the law, who are in difficulty at school, and who have been in state care. The annual number of young persons assisted averages 50,000.
At the Trust, I first met with Shikha Kashyap, Outreach Manager, who explained all the main programmes offered by the Trust:
1) Fairbridge – a 5 day induction programme which focuses on individual support and hand-holding as well as a 2-day residential course to build team skills and self-confidence through challenging indoor and outdoor activities.
2) Get Started – another 5-day engagement programme which allows participants to get a feel for a skill area of their choice, for example, Get Started with Theatre, Football or IT. The interest area acts as a hook to get them into a more structured programme.
3) TEAM – a fascinating 12-week accredited personal development programme for groups of 12-15 which includes the development of employability skills such as communication, team building and leadership; development of self-confidence and self-esteem which prepares them for employment, enterprise or further education/training. Participants are guided by 2 ‘leaders’ who remain with them for the programme duration. Participants must go through a 1-week residential component which takes them through physical challenges such as gorge and mountain climbing, bush craft, archery and raft building. Additionally, they must fundraise for a charity they select and plan and execute a project for that charity based on the expressed need. At the end of the 12 weeks, the team also plans and executes the final event – a public presentation where they use a variety of talents and media to tell the story of their individual and collective journeys.
4) XL Clubs – this programme targets the school population, especially those who are at risk of dropping out and/or failing. This is a packaged intervention that is delivered by the school and supported by the Trust and aims to resolve issues so that the youngsters remain in school and succeed.
5) Get Into – This programme is geared towards young people who are fairly ready for work and are selected through ‘Taster Days’ held jointly with the business/organization partner. During the day, pre-screened candidates are observed in team building activities, provided tasks and have interviews. Those selected for placement (usually 2-6 weeks) then go through a one-day Induction at the partner’s site, where they develop their own code of conduct and sign off to it. They are given a ‘buddy’ and ‘mentor’ and provided a general orientation. During placement, they are monitored by the partner and visited at least 2 or 3 times by a representative of the Prince’s Trust. One day is dedicated to helping them with job search, interviewing and resume writing skills. The final day is ‘Celebration Day’ where the group is feted and congratulated for their achievements. Certificates are provided. Some go on to full employment offered by the partner; others are assisted to find alternate jobs or further training.
6) Enterprise – geared at 18-30 year olds who are interested in starting their own business. They participate in a 4-day programme to help them explore the world and business of enterprise. Those that want to carry their idea forward must complete a business plan and can access a member of staff to assist them over a period of 6 weeks to 12 months. When the member of staff feels they are ready to launch their business, they are invited to a ‘friendly’ Dragon’s Den. All should be selected by the time they get to this stage and then can be approved for a very ‘soft’ loan of up to £4,000.00. They are provided with a business volunteer mentor who will meet with them at least once per month to give them additional support.
7) Young Ambassadors – these are graduates of the Prince’s Trust programme who apply for this voluntary position. The Ambassadors benefit by getting exposure, confidence building and training; they help to influence potential donors.
8) Volunteers – volunteers from the private and public sectors and civil society play a crucial role in the work of the Trust by providing mentorship to the young people through either becoming ‘progressive mentors’ where they are assigned to work with participants in the general programmes of the Trust, or they assigned as ‘business mentors’ working with the Enterprise programme. The Trust employs approximately 1,000 persons and has a pool of about 6,000 volunteers!
I also met with Phil Rattigan, of the Fairbridge programme and chatted with a few of the participants on site and later in the afternoon, observed part of the Enterprise workshop on Marketing and Sales being delivered by Wayne McFarquhar.
In the evening, I was accompanied by Ingrid Ludolph (at left) to observe the TEAM 101 final presentation in nearby Erdington. The presentation was a very stirring experience which showcased the tremendous impact of the programme on the lives of the attendees. What also impressed me was the strong and positive role of the Police who provided the two group leaders for the entire programme.
Finally, home, after a train and bus ride (I’m now a pro at finding my way home on the 45 or 47 bus!!) – weary but extremely satisfied after a day of learning and sharing. I believe a lot can be transferred and adapted to our situation in Jamaica!
Go to the Website of the Prince’s Trust Programme.