From education to employment

Britain’s teens dedicate 100K hours to good deeds

Nine in ten plan to continue education or training after volunteering experience

The Mayor of London and several leading British businesses have led praise for an initiative that has seen young people give up 100,000 hours of their time to good causes, encouraged them to broaden their ambitions, and helped to build a more integrated Britain.

The HeadStart programme, created by the Mayor’s Team London volunteering initiative and The Challenge in 2013, and now operating across London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, was praised by Sadiq Khan for helping to build more cohesive and caring communities. This week participants will have volunteered for a total of 100,000 hours. The event will be marked by a celebration involving business and participants at City Hall event tonight.

HeadStart gives 16 to 18-year-olds in full-time education an interview or internship with a leading British employer and workshops that help prepare them for the workplace. In return, participants commit to volunteer in their local community for at least 16 hours over a two month period. Starbucks, Lloyds and New Look are among the businesses involved.

The initiative aims to help young people build critical character traits and skills for work and life, while also connecting them with their local community to support a more integrated society. Research into the impact of the volunteering and support revealed that, after taking part, nine in ten young people said they planned to go on to university or further training. More than half of all participants felt more connected to their local community and some 46% said volunteering with the programme had raised their trust in other people.

HeadStart participants have also said that, as a result of the programme, they are spending much more time with people from different walks of life to their own. On completing the scheme, participants reported:

  • A 13% increase in how comfortable they feel with people who are different to themselves.
  • A 15% increase overall in how confident young people feel in taking on new challenges.

HeadStart is particularly valuable in helping young people improve their skills and boost their CVs at a time when employers are highly concerned about work-readiness, not least in light of a dramatic fall in part-time work amongst 16 and 17-year-olds, due to fewer roles being available and fewer young people choosing to work1. Nearly 500 young people have now secured employment, while after completing the programme:

  • 83% of young people said that they were likely to continue volunteering in their community
  • 99% felt HeadStart helped improve their communication skills
  • 97% felt that it had helped them to push themselves out of their comfort zone

Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Matthew Ryder, said: ‘Volunteering is a brilliant way ‎to make a real difference in our great city. As well as building stronger communities and ‎helping people to get to know and help their neighbours, it makes us a friendlier and more welcoming place to live in and visit.

‘Team London and The Challenge’s partnership has helped thousands of young Londoners to become active citizens by getting involved in their local communities and building up the vital skills they need to fulfil their potential.  Initiatives like this demonstrate how volunteers benefit just as much as the causes they donate their time and energy to. Congratulations to HeadStart and its many dedicated participants on reaching this milestone.’

Simon Redfern, VP Corporate Affairs for Starbucks, said: ‘We have been working with HeadStart since the programme started in 2013 and are extremely proud of the success of the programme. Starbucks hires dedicated, high-performing people who learn quickly on the job and thrive in a fast-paced environment – just the type of young people who come through the HeadStart programme. Each Starbucks store is committed to helping its local community and HeadStart perfectly reflects this important aspect of our organisation.’

Inushka Sachdeva, 17, from West London, who participated in HeadStart in August 2016, said: ‘It opened up so many different opportunities and gave me the chance to meet all sorts of people. Even if I hadn’t got the job, the workshops were beneficial in the long-term because those skills and tips can be used for anything and everything in the real world.’

About HeadStart:

  • HeadStart has spokespeople and case studies available to talk about young people and volunteering, the skills workshops, the programme, and other related topics.
  • The HeadStart programme was launched in 2013 by The Challenge, the UK’s leading social integration charity and the biggest provider of the National Citizen Service (NCS).
  • HeadStart is supported by the Mayor of London and by Starbucks, New Look, Zendesk, Lloyds Banking Group, Bloomberg and the Berkeley Group.
  • In 2015 The Challenge received funding from the Department for Education to grow HeadStart across ten further London boroughs, whilst also launching the programme in Birmingham.
  • Participants are expected to volunteer for 16 hours in a local charity or good cause, and also supported with employability workshops including interview and assessment preparation, communications coaching.
  • They are also offered a guaranteed job interview with one of the partner businesses.
  • The 100K hours includes 90,416 hours of volunteering undertaken by 5,298 participants in London.  448 young people have now secured employment with one of the partner businesses following completion of the HeadStart scheme, including 128 with Starbucks.
  • In Birmingham, 379 participants have completed 8,131 hours of volunteering and 33 have secured employment. HeadStart launched in Birmingham in 2015.
  • In Manchester, 134 young people have completed 3,166 hours of volunteering completed, and 13 have secured employment. HeadStart launched in Manchester in 2016.

About Team London: It’s the Mayor of London’s volunteering initiative. It supports 2,000 charitable organisations, works with over 100 businesses to recognise the importance of volunteering for their staff and the next generation, and provides thousands of opportunities for Londoners to give back to their local area. Team London runs a wide range of programmes which build stronger links between communities and bring people of different ages and backgrounds together. These programme help to increase social mobility and ensure that London’s opportunities are open to all.

[1] UKCES found that the number of 16 and 17 year olds combining part-time work with their studies has halved – from just over a two-fifths (42%) in 1996 to only 18% in 2014. The death of the Saturday job: the decline in earning and learning amongst young people in the UK, UKCES, 16th June 2015

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