We are currently delivering a project across Brighton and West Sussex, called Future Focus, supporting young people aged 16-25 who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). This DWP-funded project provides pre-employment support, such as information, advice and guidance (IAG), short vocational qualifications and preparation for work. We work closely with Brighton and Hove City Council’s Youth Employability Team and West Sussex County Council’s Careers Guidance Team in the Post-16 Education & Skills Team.

Working as a sub-contractor for Asphaleia, since September 2019 we have supported 32 young people on our Future Focus programme. Of the 21 young people who have exited the programme, 15 young people have progressed into further learning and 2 young people progressed into an apprenticeship/employment (81% progression rate).

We offer our young people a personal approach with one-to one and small group sessions. This enables us to build confidence and rapport and support those with a range of additional learning, emotional and behavioural needs.

Case Study

We have been supporting a young person on our Future Focus programme in Brighton, who is aged 21 and finished university last summer. The young person was close to becoming homeless and had suffered long-term abuse as a child. He has mental health problems including PTSD and anxiety. The young person did not want to force himself to deal with the pressure of a job until he was ready mentally to do so. Through our youth engagement programme he has been supported to improve his employability skills, such as participating in mock interviews, whilst completing a Level 2 Health and Social Care qualification.

The young person said “The programme has supported my mental health, which has steadily become more even. Before I was having good days and extremely bad days. For the most part now, each day is fairly good.”

The young person currently lives in supported accommodation with older males who are a lot older than him. Joining the programme has given him a safe space to come to throughout the week, providing a structured routine. His Employability Tutor has seen his confidence improve drastically.

Our approach to ensuring innovative delivery happens is to always go at the learners’ pace. We try to make sure we are working from the basis of what the individuals’ needs are and want the sessions to be tailored to their needs in order for them to be empowered and benefit from the engagement programme, which then supports them to progress onto their qualifications and employment.

We set up and arrange team building activities to support the young people to gain confidence in interacting with others and building their social skills abilities, such as ice breaker games, question and answer games and various fun team building activities. We want to get the best out of the young people so always will include their interests and hobbies as much as we can, as this gets the best response out of them and develops their motivation.

We engage with young people through 1-2-1 support, mentoring and outdoor pursuits and activities. The activities support the young people to develop their confidence, motivation, team working and communication skills. In addition, we provide new experiences and a platform for young people to meet with others from across their area. The programme is designed to support young people to stretch horizons, challenge their thinking and develop their skills. Activities are young person-led from a wide variety of options including bowling, visits to local attractions, t-shirt tie dye, job search skills, enterprise, sports, art and craft to name a few. Young people are also supported to complete volunteering opportunities to add work experience to their CVs. For example, the young people have organised charitable fundraising activities and adopted a local bridleway, which they remain by looking after the environment.

We speak openly with the young people about their goals and next steps to keep them on track and we work together to set out how we can achieve this. Rapport is built by being consistent, welcoming and showing a caring attitude towards the young people so they can treat the space and our role as safe and supportive.

We cover topics around a range of things including friendships, life backgrounds, goals and aspirations, bullying, self-esteem and confidence, mental health, arts and crafts, social media, global warming and climate change, homelessness, their future, things that are going on in the world, mindfulness as well as outings in the locality.

We have created a space where the young people have freedom of expression and can be who they want to be and be accepted. A lot of the young people have complicated lives, such as having long breaks out of education and can struggle with their identity and who they are as a person. We try to empower them and get them back re engaged in order to achieve their goals.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Youth Employability Team, along with West Sussex County Council’s Post-16 Careers Team, have visited the programme on numerous occasions, and been complimentary about the support we have provided.

Testimonial from Brighton and Hove City Council

“Brighton & Hove City Council’s Youth Employability Service are grateful to Whitehead-Ross Education & Consulting Ltd for delivering the Future Focus programme in the city. The programme in Brighton has enabled many young who were not in education, employment and training to re-engage in a positive activity and gain valuable qualifications to help them on their next steps. Every young person is unique and has their own specific starting points, aims and support needs. What stands out is the individual attention and support every young person is given throughout the programme to help them achieve and succeed in their chosen career paths. Even during the Covid-19 lockdown young people have been supported through telephone calls, emails and online learning to ensure their progress is not interrupted. It is wonderful to see these individuals gain self-esteem, confidence, direction and progression into further education and employment as a result of participating in the Future Focus programme with Whitehead-Ross Education & Consulting Ltd in Brighton. Thank you so much for all the amazing support you are providing through the Future Focus programme to the young people in Brighton & Hove.”

Dean Coussens
Youth Employability Service, Brighton & Hove City Council

We regularly liaise with Brighton and Hove’s open access youth clubs, delivered by various third sector organisations across the City such as Brighton Youth Centre. The programme complements the youth clubs and allow us to provide ongoing mentoring and 1-2-1 support to support positive progression into education and employment.

With the unusual circumstances we currently find ourselves in, with the outbreak of COVID-19 we have still managed to keep our young people engaged through online activities and have in fact signed 10 new learners up over the last month!

Delivered from our skills centre in Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB, we also offer vocational routeway programmes through progressing onto our ESFA Skills Support for the Unemployed classroom-based courses and qualifications.

Testimonial from West Sussex County Council

“During this challenging lockdown period, the Future Focus Programme is proving a very useful source of training for NEET young people in providing an opportunity to re-engage and have some structure in their lives and a valuable stepping stone for those for whom travel has been a barrier in the past. Accredited activity and the opportunity to achieve supports their mental health and well-being as well as preparing them for future work or further education. We are looking forward to the young people improving their qualifications and confidence as a result of this provision and working with Whitehead-Ross Education to support them into further learning or employment later in the year.”

Jane Chew, Education & Skills, West Sussex County Council

To find out more about our Future Focus programme, please call us on 01273 281981 or email workforceskills@wrecltd.co.uk

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Spotlight on: DWP Future Focus Programme in Brighton