The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) are taking part in the Government’s Kickstart scheme, which provides funding to help employers create jobs opportunities for young people. We have 30 placements in total, during which the Kickstarters are supported to develop skills and experience in the workplace.
One of last year’s Kickstarters is Siân, who grew up in South Birmingham and studied English and Drama at the University of Sheffield. Siân joined the scheme as a Programme Assistant in the Sharing Communities team in May 2021 and went on to secure a permanent position as a Community Outreach Worker with us in the autumn.
Siân started her journey working with TAWS in 2017 as part of ‘Project Brum’, a youth summer job placement supporting free family activities in parks and on residential streets. She returned in 2019 to work on Happy Healthy Holidays, another summer programme providing food and activities at over 50 locations across Birmingham. Looking back, she said these jobs helped her gain valuable skills and experience:
‘I think it taught me that you just have to be really adaptable and kind of throw yourself, dive into every situation. You have to work with different people all the time and every day was different. It was quite stressful at times, but it was good experience.’
After finishing University in 2019, Siân worked in Sheffield, then moved home to save money to go travelling. However, the Covid-19 pandemic halted her plans and made it extremely difficult to find work. She reflected that,
‘Being a graduate is hard enough I think, but then to be a graduate in a pandemic is really hard because there were barely any job opportunities, which is why I just took what I could get with waitressing.’
In Summer 2020, just after the first lockdown, Siân was asked to support the #BrumTogether emergency food distribution effort with TAWS, then worked as a barista during the winter lockdowns. She explained that while she enjoyed spending time with the same customers every week in the café, she wanted a role which was like her #BrumTogether food relief work.
‘I was just really missing working in the community, doing something. I basically saw Kickstart as an opportunity to get me out of hospitality, to re-join an organization that I was quite familiar with, and also use my skills in forming connections and engaging with people.’
Within her Kickstart placement as a programme support within the Sharing Communities team, Siân has been involved in lots of exciting projects. She helped wind down the Wear & Share project and has been working on the Share Shacks – organising pop-up events, carrying out community consultations, building connections with local groups, and organising activity sessions.
Siân explained that for her, Kickstart was a good first job opportunity which helped her gain the skills which ultimately help her secure her current role. She reflected that before the placement ‘I just don’t think I had enough experience. So, I saw Kickstart as an opportunity to almost be properly prepped for a role’.
As well as focusing on their project areas, the Kickstarters take part in internal training days, which provide an introduction to working in departments such as Finance, HR, and Marketing. They also attend workshops to develop skills, such as CV writing and interview techniques, and log their progress using Skills360 an e-learning platform.
Siân’s favourite experience working with TAWS has been supporting the emergency food distribution during the first lockdown. She explained that working in areas of the city, such as Druids Heath, opened her eyes to the stark health inequalities within neighbouring areas and encouraged her to continue working within the community because ‘I felt like I made a connection with it in lockdown one.’
Siân will be taking on a six-month secondment as a Project Development Support within the Funding and Strategy team, starting in February. She said she’s really excited to start this role in a new area of the organisation, while utilising her experiences working on frontline delivery.
We are now looking for young people to take part in our final round of Kickstart placements. If you are aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and want to start a career that helps make a difference to people’s lives, visit www.theaws.co.uk/jobs to find out more.