Help is on hand for unemployed Borders youngsters

Thirteen unemployed youngsters have seen their luck change after completing a course with a brand new Borders charity.

Monday, 20th August 2018, 12:28 am
Updated Monday, 20th August 2018, 12:39 am
Grant Pringle, Scott Wight and Mark Timmins with course members Polly Sissons, Adam Slater, Adele Ennis and Kieran Barnett.

The first cohort of Galashiels-based Works+, which set up in the Focus Centre following the sudden closure of Tomorrow’s People earlier this year, are all now in employment, training or education.

“We had 13 young people on our first block, and we worked with a further nine through drop-ins,” said project leader, Mark Timmins. “We are delighted and very proud that each one of them found a positive destination to move on to.”

Works+ attendees with collection boxes they made.

Works+ launched in April, a month after UK employment charity Tomorrow’s People went into administration.

Participants were devastated following the sudden closure of the Channel Street project. But, determined not to go down without a fight, its former staff Mark, Scott Wight and Grant Pringle, scrambled to put new arrangements in place.

“When Tomorrow’s People stopped, there was still the need for young people to be supported,”insisted Mark. “There’s a hidden group of young people in the Borders who get left behind.

“If you have got no money and you live out of the Border towns, you can become socially isolated. If you don’t have someone to talk to, or to pay for bus fares to interviews, you’re stuck.

“Some people just don’t get on at school. It doesn’t mean they’re not valuable members of society. But if you are not used to achieving, you don’t think you can and you can go into a downwards spiral.

“We try to give young people an opportunity to achieve. Everybody deserves a chance.”

With travel expenses and lunch provided, young people attend one-to-one and group based activities with Works+ three days a week over a 10 week period. The charity also runs drop-in sessions every Monday to assist with job or college applications.

“We’re getting them ready so they can be confident enough to take the next step, whether that’s getting a job, or going back to education,” Mark said. “I call it ‘filling the vessel’. We do things like the John Muir award, and volunteering is very important.

“It’s all about gaining confidence and building skills. Just interacting with people of their own age can make a massive difference - some of these young people haven’t done that since they left school.

“When they come to us they are ready to make a change, which is lovely to see.”

With Inspiring Scotland backing securing the project until the end of the year, funding is required thereafter.

“It costs about £2,500 for a young person to go through the project,” Mark told us. “We would say that’s a very good investment, because the aim is that they will get a job. They will be contributing to society, and not claiming benefits, so that £2,500 is not a negative investment.

“We follow the youngsters for a year after the course – we check in on them every five or six weeks to make sure that everything is going right. If not, we will intervene – it’s not just pushing them out like a sausage machine.”