What is it?
Supported by the MAYOR of London #CrowdfundLondon initiative, the thinkFOUNDATION Step Up To Work programme is a specialised work experience platform that engages, educates and trains those struggling to acquire the necessary skills and experience to make them work ready. We provide opportunities and support to members of Waltham Forest who are at risk of, or have fallen out of education or employment. The programme provides a hands-on working environment within the thinkFOUND furniture making company.
What do we offer?
We provide our candidates opportunities to experience learning in different ways within a supportive setting and real working environment; contributing to a functioning furniture business.
We not only work on relevant and transferable professional skills including attendance, time management, individual and group working etc. but also break down the core principles around how to gain and sustain employment; advising on aspects such as the value of networking, online professionalism, how to write a CV, conduct an interview and delving in to what ‘professionalism’ actually means.
We offer guidance and support on a practical and theoretical level offering weekly classroom sessions as well as time to reflect, both in one to one sessions with mentors as well as group/ paired sessions with peers.
The candidates not only gain practical skills but work towards completing a set of professional competencies as well as personal goals. As a result, they are supplied with an individualised in-depth reference to pass on to future employees.
Why does it matter?
Our work with young people really matters because if we look at things in the cold light of day, young people really have been cheated. Opportunities are sparse and social mobility has not just stagnated but declined for a great many people. Without connections or healthy financing it’s very hard to get far and become the best you can be.
Education is increasingly focusing on the ability to pass exams with a lack of emphasis on hands-on learning and the importance of soft skills. When it comes to work, gaining invaluable experience of real work opportunities is often unattainable and part time work is very hard to come by or limited to a narrow field of employment. Avenues of career development often stumble before they can even start.
The repercussion of which all too often leads to wider community issues ranging from mental health to criminal activity. We work with 16-24 year olds who struggle to find work and a purpose within their locality and give them the Step Up they deserve.
How does it work?
We provide candidates from Waltham Forest 8 week placements that run for 2 days a week within the thinkFOUND reclaimed material furniture company.
Candidates work on practical projects such as making dinning and coffee tables working both individually and as part of a team.
We provide weekly workshop sessions focussing on key work skills and invite guest speakers to provide teaching on topics including how to make use of social media.
We educate on what employers are looking for, what makes a business successful and the importance of ‘green’ practice in business.
Each candidate has a workbook to fill in each week with mentors signing off relevant competencies they have gained.
We facilitate individuals to set personal goals to work on during the placement and beyond.
We provide a bespoke references and help link up individuals to possible future employers.
We are building a network for our candidates to put the experience they have acquired with our programme and the take away in-depth reference to immediate use. This network consists of council and government programmes, other work experience through other businesses, signposting to pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeships schemes and pairing candidates with other employment opportunities.
How can I help?
Be our champion; spread the word about who we are and what we do.
Become a volunteer: Looking for a change of career or easing your way back into work? Come volunteer with us and assist in the facilitation of our programme.
Fund us; if you believe in what we do help fund us to do more:
- Donate as an individual or choose us as your company’s benefactor. We can offer team bonding days via your internal CSR strategy.
- Sponsorship; become a sponsor by investing in the Social Enterprise allowing us to expand our reach.
- Product donation. If you are a tool or PPE manufacturer/ seller we'd love to hear from you.
Employ our candidates; make the programme a real stepping-stone into work. We are building a business network for our applicants to follow on with further work experience and possible employment. If you want to take on a young worker we’d love to hear from you.
Jan - April 2020
Develop workshop, stress test the space and protocols. Finalise projects, framework, schedule and workbook. Complete staff training.
April - May - 2020
Begin first intake, LAUNCH! UPDATE due to Covid-19 we may have to postpone, more info to follow in the coming days.
Evaluate Pilot - Oct/Nov 2020
Implement review amendments for the purppose of expanding the programme - Jan/Feb 2021
With further funding implement expansion of the programme alongside other initiatives - Feb/March 2021
Covid-19 Update. We are looking to reschedule the programme for June/July depending on the enviroment. In the meantime we are looking at Virtual Learning with the possibility to create A Virtual Curriculum Package as a bridge to the placments/programme starting in its physical form.