From education to employment

Winning Powys Business Award was a game changer for social enterprise

Sian Roberts (centre) from The Game Change Project, with Rachel Jones from Interior Products Group and Nick Evans, managing director of EvaBuild at the launch of this year’s Powys Business Awards.

Winning a Powys Business Award last October has helped a social enterprise, which works with young people disengaged from traditional education, to build valuable business links in the county.

The Game Change Project (TGCP) CIC, based at Aberhafesp, near Newtown, won the Social Enterprise/ Charity Award, sponsored by Myrick Training Services, at last year’s awards.

The social enterprise, which supports around 100 young people a year from seven schools across Powys and Shropshire, has since formed a partnership with Interior Products Group, Welshpool, which won the Growth Award at last year’s Powys Business Awards.

TGCP provides opportunities for young people disengaged from traditional education to gain practical life skills, confidence, work experience and employment opportunities to unlock their potential.

Interior Products Group has agreed to sponsor TGCP for the next three years and the company’s employees spend one day a year volunteering at the project, where they share their business skills.

The support doesn’t stop there, however, as Nick Evans and Scott Davies, managing directors of Newtown companies EvaBuild and Hilltop Honey respectively, are both mentoring young people at the project. EvaBuild has now offered an apprenticeship to one young man met by Nick at the project.

“It has been a really exciting year as our team has grown from just Andrew and me to five part-time staff,” said director Sian Roberts who established TGCP with Andrew Evans in 2019.

“The connections we have made since winning at the Powys Business Awards have been instrumental in the growth of the project.

“The awards provide an amazing platform to get your message out there and show the passion of your business. They generate so much collaboration and we have found that Powys businesses want to support and help each other.”

More than 130 young people have completed courses at TGCP, gaining employability skills, youth achievement awards, Welsh Baccalaureate and other qualifications to improve their employment prospects. Many have progressed to college, apprenticeships and self-employment.

With its strapline ‘bringing learning to life’, the project gives young people the chance to try all sorts of practical, hands on activities including digger driving, mechanics and traditional rural skills which introduce them to problem solving and teamwork.

Collaboration has been a key to the success of the enterprise, as strong links have been forged with local businesses, third sector organisations and education.

“Filling the big gap between mainstream education and the workplace is what we focus on,” explained Sian.

“We have had an avalanche of referrals because of the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of young people who lack confidence and self-esteem.

“They are often not given a chance at school to find out what their strengths are and what they are good at, and there are less opportunities for work experience placements because of all the red tape involved for employers.

“It takes a lot of investment in these young people to get them to the point where they are ready for work and many of them have really turned their lives around.”

Sian was speaking at the launch of this year’s Powys Business Awards which showcase the diverse range of successful enterprises in the county. Organised by Mid Wales Manufacturing Group (MWMG) with support from sponsors, the awards include two new categories for 2023 – sole trade and excellence in sustainability.

Entries must be received by Sunday, July 30 and the awards presentation ceremony will be held on Friday, October 20 at The Hafren, Newtown. All 11 categories and entry forms can be found here.

Ceri Stephens, MWMG’s group manager, said:

“We are delighted that their success at last year’s Powys Business Awards has been so beneficial to The Game Change Project who really made an impact at the awards ceremony.

“Their story highlights what a fantastic platform the awards provide for businesses to raise their profile and collaborate.”

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