The date is March 30th 2017. The time is 6:00pm. The lights are low, and the music is blaring. It is time for our End of Year Event 2017 to begin.
Here at Talent Match, we’ve noticed something over the past year. With the rise of superhero films and TV series recently, we’ve come to realise that we have our own superheroes walking among us, and those superheroes are the young people that we help everyday. Each and every one of these heroes has their own villains (or as we call them, barriers) they face all the time. These villains range from a lack of confidence to mental health difficulties to just not having any work experience at all. But we’ve seen our heroes take on these villains and win. We’ve seen them go to job interviews and voluntary work placements and succeed at them! Which is why this year, for our End of Year Event, we decided to go with the theme of Superheroes, to show our young people what we think of them, and to show off to everyone just how heroic they can be.
But it’s not just our young people who are heroes. We believe that the employers and organisations out there are heroes too, for taking on our young people and giving them a chance. Some of them have gone above and beyond to make sure our young people become the heroes we know them to be.
There are some small employers out there who, like Squirrel Girl and Zatanna, are less well known heroes, but who deserve just as much credit and publicity as more well-known heroes like Captain America and Superman. These employers have really helped our young people this year, from offering work placements to helping us reach more young people to help and even by allowing us to use their facilities to hold events that will help our young people gain the confidence and skills they need.
Of all of our small employers that we work with, only a few were nominated after being a tremendous help to our heroes. However, only two employers were able to win our Small Employer of the Year Award, and that honour went to the one and only Screen Northants, and the one and only Victoria Centre!
Screen Northants are a Film and Media charity that was established to develop an internationally-recognised film production studio and to make Northamptonshire a legitimate destination for Film and TV Production. Originally, they allowed us to take a group of young people to their base of operations on a “Mystery Tour” in which our young people had no idea where they were heading!
Screen Northants showed the group around and spoke to them about careers in the media and film industry and showed them just what it is they do. During this Mystery Tour, Screen Northants spoke to two of our young people and offered them volunteering places as Make-up Assistants on a production they would soon be working on. The production was a zombie film, and went swimmingly! The two young people who got these voluntary positions have gone on to say that they really enjoyed their time working with Screen Northants.
To view the film that our young people worked on, click here!
The Victoria Centre is a local community centre in Wellingborough that provides meeting spaces for the multi-cultural and multi-faith communities. They are also an information centre to new arrivals in the UK. They have supported the delivery of Talent Match since its early beginnings, due to our shared common goal of supporting vulnerable people in the community. They’ve given our young people quality volunteering placements multiple times, and have also attended events that we have put on, such as Employer Speed interviewing, which is a bit like speed dating, only with job interviews instead. During their attendance of these events, they’ve helped put on mock interviews for out young people.
There are certain heroes out there who the majority of people know, like Iron Man and Batman. There are times when you haven’t been able to not hear about them. Our large employers are like that. But while most people know about them or have heard of them, that doesn’t stop them being heroes too. Just because they’re well-known doesn’t stop them from doing heroic acts.
These large employers have helped our young people too, some of them have even been with us and helping us from the start. They’ve given our young people the opportunity for work experience placements, given our staff training, allowed us to take our young people there for Mystery Tours and even given our young people employment opportunities.
Just as with our small employers, we have an award made just for our large employers, and the winner of our Large Employer of the Year Award went to DWP Wellingborough!
DWP Wellingborough are the Department of Work and Pensions and are responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. As the UK’s biggest public service department it administers the State Pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to over 22 million claimants and customers. They are a partner of Talent Match and have been involved with the project since its early days. Over the past year they have gone above and beyond for our young people, with giving work experience placements, support with events that we have held and staff training for Universal Credit and Better Off Calculations.
One young person took on a work experience placement with DWP Wellingborough and while they were only there for a short amount of time, it was soon decided that their time at DWP Wellingborough should be extended, due to the young person’s enthusiasm for wanting to work in Civil Service. The young person has then gone on to apply for an apprenticeship within the DWP Wellingborough and was successful! If it hadn’t have been for that initial placement, the young person might never have gained an apprenticeship or even been inspired to start a career in the Civil Service.
But of course, we can’t hold an event all about our young people and not talk about them at all, can we?
We’re very fortunate here at Talent Match to work with a wide variety of young people that we can help get into work and further education. Our Champions and staff all got the chance to nominate certain beneficiaries, who they felt had been real superheroes this year, having overcome barriers such as low confidence, a lack of relevant skills, mental health difficulties in some cases, and some beneficiaries just had no idea of what they wanted to do.
Their final choices for nominees were
- Adam Norton, for persevering with his UCAS application after lacking motivation.
- Ashlei Thompson, for growing in confidence and not only gaining employment, but sustaining the employment for 9 months.
- Eddy Maguire, for improving his confidence and gaining employment.
- Luke James, for always picking himself back up after being knocked down and for becoming more confident in being able to talk to people, rather than just the friends he already knew.
- Chloe Marlow, for coming out of her comfort zone, realising her full potential and even moving into her first flat!
- Reece Chambers, for volunteering at a number of schools in his local area, and for taking part in a long distance learning course for his Masters in Creative Writing.
- Asher Tyler, for being a great leader during Young Enterprise and starting to overcome her anxiety by being more willing to talk to new people.
- Daniel Sandell, for gaining confidence and securing employment at a Kingswood Centre as an activity instructor, and loving the work he does.
- Hannah O’Reilly, for securing a work placement that was initially only a month long, but has been renewed into a 3-month contract since, and keeps being renewed! She has now been there for over a year.
- Jason Long, for growing in confidence and gaining sustained employment for 9 months.
- Ashleigh Spencer, for finding the motivation that she lacked, accepting help when she needed it and undertaking a 20 week work placement.
- Curtis Quincey, for not letting his medical issues with his knee stop him from making progress in finding what he wants to do and getting stuck into any activity or event.
- Eran Robinson, for consistently completing actions and targets set for him during IAG sessions and for receiving great feedback on interviews he has attended.
- Jordan Jones, for gaining in confidence, and creating our very own Superhero for the event, Enigma Man!
- Stephen Jones, for becoming more confident and improving his time management skills.
Each one of these beneficiaries received a certificate and had a chance to have their picture taken with The Worshipful The Mayor of Wellingborough.
Prior to the event, a survey was sent out across social media and emailed to beneficiaries. This survey included short write-ups of each of the nominees explaining why they were nominated, and gave everyone a chance to vote for who they wanted to win the awards based on these write-ups. Usually, only one person would win, but the votes were so close, and the young people so deserving, we chose to let 4 beneficiaries win.
The winners were Hannah O’Reilly, Eddy Maguire, Chloe Marlow and Daniel Sandell. All four of these winners received an award that had been custom made for them, and a prize.
In attendance during the night was the Police and Crime Commissioner of Northamptonshire Mr Stephen Mold, who had his own award to give out. This award was about recognising the contribution that the beneficiaries had made towards the Talent Match project and to their local community. He chose 3 of our beneficiaries and awarded to them the Make a Difference award.
The winners for this award were
- Ashlei Thompson, for always helping out at events and promotional stands as well as delivering his own version of The Weakest Link Game show and inviting all staff and beneficiaries. He has also gone on to apply for volunteering within Mayday Trust as he is passionate about helping others.
- Asher Tyler, for always accepting a challenge and attending everything Talent Match has offered her. She has also shown her leadership skills on a variety of occasions such as making her group feel comfortable and at ease during sledging and also helped to try to sign new people up to the Talent Match Project.
- Curtis Quincey, for being a great team leader during away day activities and helping other beneficiaries out when they need it.
During the evening, there was also a chance for one beneficiary, Adam Norton, to get up on stage and give his own speech about how much Talent Match had helped him. He spoke about how much Talent Match had helped him persevere with his UCAS applications, and how grateful he felt towards the project and the champions involved, especially towards one champion, Josh Benn, who had even driven him all the way to Aberystwyth in Wales for his first week of University!
All in all, a great time was had by everyone who attended, with the photo booth proving especially popular, with its variety of props and a green screen background. Here’s to our next year being just as great as this one!