Youth homelessness charity Centrepoint and construction company Robertson have joined forces to launch a new initiative for young people with experience of homelessness and social exclusion in the North East. 

Seyi Obakin, CEO of Centrepoint, and Terry Hanlon, Robertson's Community Development Manager launched the traineeship on Tuesday 31st July at Middlesbrough Football Club, at an event with 50 council employees and business leaders from across the region.

The twelve-week programme is specially designed for young 19-24 year olds who are not currently in employment and have little work experience. The scheme will match young people with forward-thinking employers who can offer structured work placements lasting 100 hours, or 15 days. The scheme is operating across Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

Centrepoint works with 200 homeless young people in the North East each year, many of whom have experienced chaotic childhoods involving abuse, violence, and deprivation. Young people in these situations may not have had positive experiences of education and as a result may lack basic qualifications. They may also have low self-esteem and low confidence. For these reasons, full-time employment is not always the best first step. The aim of the programme is to give young people an opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge, confidence, attitudes and behaviours they need to succeed at work.

Zinnia, participated in a similar programme and really benefited from the opportunity, after a traumatic childhood during which she was homeless for periods and suffered abuse from a family member. Her education was severely disrupted as a result but she knew she loved painting from a young age. Eventually she was referred to Centrepoint for support and is now in her second year of a painting and decorating apprenticeship. She says, "My boss is very supportive and makes sure I get all the support I need at work. I think it would be great to give more young people a chance – it changes lives. My life has changed a lot since I've been given this opportunity. It means a lot to be given a chance like that. I love my job and I always put 100% in."

Centrepoint's Chief Executive Seyi Obakin said: "The young people Centrepoint supports are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Life has dealt them a tough hand but they want to work hard and contribute just like everyone else. This traineeship scheme is a fantastic opportunity for our young people, giving them hands-on experience as well as support to develop the key skills they will need in the world of work. Robertson has set a fantastic example with its involvement and we hope many more forward-thinking employers will follow suit."

Robertson's Community Development Manager Terry Hanlon said: "Robertson is fully committed to working with all of our communities and supporting those who need help. The great work that Centrepoint does to support homeless young people is vital and this 12-week programme will have a positive impact on the local economy and on the people involved. Hopefully many of the participants will enjoy, learn and ultimately benefit from the experience and we can encourage more companies to get involved, regardless of sector or size of company."

 

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