Do you remember your first job? You were probably nervous but also excited about what the future might hold. Too many young people miss out on this experience because of the barriers to finding employment. That is why Deloitte in Birmingham teamed up with Action for Children to help disadvantaged young people fulfil their potential. Clare King, who is leading the partnership, shares one truly inspirational story.
Chris was very quiet. He made little eye contact, did not speak much and appeared to have poor self-esteem.
Being referred to the STEPs Programme, one of the Action for Children initiatives supported by Deloitte, changed that.
First, he made a friend, Ali, who had the opposite personality to Chris and helped him to open up. Then he started to use humour to share a little more and that was when it became apparent that he was concerned about becoming homeless. He even joked that he would be better off in jail.
That is a big burden for a young person.
It took a few sessions to get Chris to start to talk about his life, finally revealing that he had lost a good friend. That was why he was afraid of getting close to people.
With no one in his family in paid employment, no work experience or training, fears about not having any where to live and difficulties forming relationships, you could see why he lacked confidence.
That is why the STEPs programme is so important. It works intensively with young people like Chris to change their futures, helping them to take the steps they need to reach their potential.
Chris is now more engaged, makes more eye contact and is more positive. There is still progress to be made. He needs help with his CV and with finding a training opportunity, but he is working with people who not only care, but who will help make a difference to his life.
However, work like this is expensive. This is why the Deloitte team in Birmingham has been so engaged in raising funds.
We started our partnership with Action for Children in January 2017 and have already surpassed our targets raising over £105,000 for the charity, with volunteers walking, cycling and running (the photo above is of me preparing for the Bimingham Half Marathon with colleagues) to raise money and holding raffles, wine tastings and even skydiving to boost donations. The Deloitte One Hour Appeal, where all employees and partners are encouraged to give an hour of their salary to their local office charity, raised the most, £26,000 from this one initiative.
We are not just fundraising. Deloitte staff have also trained 30 Action for Children staff in business skills and have run employability sessions, helping young people to write CVs and prepare for job interviews.
So, thank you to my colleagues. The response has been amazing.
But then so is the work that Action for Children does, with the charity chosen not just by us in Birmingham but also the Cambridge and Newcastle offices, as part of One Million Futures.
Chris is just one of those one million lives we are changing through One Million Futures.
His story makes all our volunteering and tireless fundraising activities really worthwhile.