Businesses help teenagers prepare for world of work

An inspirational programme to help local young people fulfil their potential and improve their life chances was launched with over 100 school students from five Crawley secondary schools on last week.
Students and business mentors at the launch of Be the Change, Crawley and Gatwick - picture submitted by LoveLocalJobsStudents and business mentors at the launch of Be the Change, Crawley and Gatwick - picture submitted by LoveLocalJobs
Students and business mentors at the launch of Be the Change, Crawley and Gatwick - picture submitted by LoveLocalJobs

The Be the Change programme has been developed by and social enterprise, humanutopia, to help 13 and 14 year-olds bridge the gap between education and employment.

Volunteer mentors from the business community play a pivotal role throughout the programme, providing guidance, support and advice for the young people.

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At the emotional and life changing launch, the students and business volunteers took part in activities that focus on happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability. The activities were led by humanutopia’s founders, Carlo Missirian and Graham Moore, both of whom are former teachers.

Graham said: “Our vision is for every young person to have raised hope and confidence, to have the chance to develop life skills and create positive cycles that will prepare them for life.

“Be the Change is a perfect vehicle to help young people develop the qualities and qualifications they need for a better future. The volunteers and the invaluable support and belief of local businesses adds a further dimension and depth to the engagement and journey the young people will experience.”

The schools involved are Ifield Community College, Hazelwick School, Holy Trinity CofE Secondary School, St Wilfrid’s Catholic School and Thomas Bennett Community College.

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Carole Lawless, assistant headteacher at Thomas Bennett, said: “Be the Change was really challenging and inspiring for everyone. I would like to have had more of our students involved.”

Be the Change programmes have been running for the past year in other parts of the country including East Sussex and coastal West Sussex. The Crawley and Gatwick programme is a collaboration between, and humanutopia supported by NatWest, Crawley Borough Council, the Careers & Enterprise Company, West Sussex County Council, Arora Hotel Gatwick, Southern Water, Gatwick Airport, the Crawley Observer and other local businesses.

Founder of Gary Peters said: “Year 9 is when young people make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives – from where they fit within their peer groups, to what subjects they will study for their GCSEs.

“Our job is to help them recognise and build on their strengths and to give them the tools, knowledge and confidence to make the right decisions. We’ve seen outstanding outcomes from all Be the Change programmes run to date and we are looking forward to making a positive difference to the young people involved in the Crawley and Gatwick programme.

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“We have been overwhelmed by the support of the business community and enthusiasm of the volunteer business mentors. Mentoring has been identified as an important way to encourage students to stay engaged with their education and believe that they can have a successful future,” said Gary.

Cllr Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, said: “Crawley Borough Council is delighted to support this initiative. I was very pleased to see so many students from the town attending the launch event and hope they were inspired to think about their options for the future and being mentored by volunteers from the local business community.”