What’s it like to be a young person in Britain today? It’s meant to be a pretty exciting time in life — one of endless possibilities, new jobs, travel overseas, and the heartbreak and joy of young love…
These are some of the experiences that shape young people as they develop. But it doesn’t always work out as it should, with life dealing kids a poor hand, leaving young people disillusioned, low in self-confidence, and lacking the necessary skills to get really stuck in to adulthood.
Enter ESTEEM, a Sussex based charity which gives 16-24 year olds opportunities to develop confidence, build life skills and prepare themselves for adulthood.
What does the charity do exactly?
The charity’s name is an acronym which stands for their priorities — empower, support, train, environment, experience, and mentor. Mentoring is the cornerstone of their charitable efforts, through a program known as ‘Mentor Me’.
Providing a volunteering experience that is designed to give young people confidence
The charity operates by following in the principles of the acronym that makes up its name, and by providing a volunteering experience that is designed to give young people the confidence and skills to go out and attain meaningful employment, training or education.
Young people are paired up with a volunteer community mentor to offer support and guidance through one to one sessions. The relationship allows young adults to develop some insights into the world of work, and gain a better understanding of what is required to reach their professional outcomes and goals.
Mentor Me facilitates supportive and beneficial relationships across generations, and through open dialogue enables skills and knowledge to be passed on. It provides a space for young adults to share their ideas, grow and develop — but also makes them feel valued and heard.
Why it’s necessary
As of the first quarter of this year, unemployment for 16-24 year olds was at 520,000, and many young people are undoubtedly without direction in this day and age. Not only that, an analysis by the House of Commons library for Labour has shown that young people now fare comparatively worse than at any point since 1992.
The charity works hard to help young people develop the skills required to get them into the workforce
Unemployment is at the heart of the problem, and so the charity works hard to help young people develop the skills required to get them into the workforce. We’ve all seen examples of employers asking for years of relevant experience for entry level careers. ESTEEM is there to help young people get that first foot on the ladder, and its mentoring efforts are at the heart of it all.
The results of the charities hard work speak for themselves: over 70% of participants go on to training or education within 6 months, and 60% find employment within the same timeframe.
And don’t just take our word for it, the young people who have been helped by the charity are eager to sing its praises:
“Because I have volunteering on my CV, I now have a job and nothing is holding me back”.
Travis, age 18
“Working with Esteem has given me the confidence to pursue my creative passions and I now have a job in photography”.
Disney, age 20
ESTEEM has given young people like Travis and Disney some much needed direction, and allowed them to get started in the world of work.
What you can do to help
The best way to get involved is by becoming a mentor yourself. The young people helped by the charity are reliant on the guiding influence of people that have taken the time to teach them. It can make all the difference in their lives.
Kath Steedman, who currently works for the charity, outlined the impact it has had on her:
‘I started mentoring in the hope that I could help change young people’s lives for the better, but in the end ESTEEM has changed mine. Working with the young people here has not only helped me to feel like a real part of the community, it has introduced me to an amazing bunch of people. I’ve seen first-hand what a difference ESTEEM makes to people’s lives – and I know they’ll go on to do great things!’
The charity is looking for more people to get involved with their mentoring schemes, so now is the perfect time to offer a helping hand.
If you think you can offer something to the next generation — it’s easy to get involved.
Visit www.esteem.org.uk to fill out an application, or call the charity on 01903 854987 to find out more.
Full training is given, DBS check and references required.