Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Your interview: Wilf Nicholls, Prince’s Trust Programme Executive
12:30pm Saturday 17th August 2013 in News
JANET DOUGH (letter): What is your role at the trust?
WILF NICHOLLS (WN): I am an awards executive for The Prince’s Trust, based in Brighton.
My role is to assess applications for our development awards, which are small grants of around £200 to help disadvantaged young people get into work or education.
These can be for young people aged 14 to 16, who are not expecting to achieve five GCSEs grades A – C, or 16 to 25-year-olds not in education, training or employment.
Many young people come to us without the basics to get on in life, such as paying for the training or equipment they need to find a new job.
Through our support we can help young people change their lives for the better.
DS-BRITE (online): What are the kinds of issues the young people face who come to the trust and how do you help them?
WN: I speak to many young people who have come from a variety of different backgrounds. Some may be living on the streets, growing up in care, struggling with their education or in trouble with the law. Many have faced extreme hardship and might not have the practical or financial support to help them find a job. Worryingly, more than one in five young people are currently struggling to find work in Brighton (22 per cent).
The Prince’s Trust runs programmes to give them the skills and confidence and help them overcome these issues so they can find education or employment. You can find out more on our website www.princes-trust.org.uk or by calling 0800 842 842.
GEOFF (email): How did you get involved in The Prince’s Trust?
WN: I have always worked in services for children and young people and started out as a youth worker at my local community centre in East London. I soon progressed to becoming a grants and community development worker there.
Having worked in this sector for many years, I have always been aware of The Prince’s Trust and the positive work that it does. I applied for the role of awards executive, which gave me the opportunity to use my skills and experience to benefit young people in Sussex.
LORRAINE (online): What are the biggest challenges and rewards?
WN: The biggest challenges can be the volume of enquiries and staying on top of the workload, especially at busy times like now when young people are looking for funding to go to college courses in September.
When we give a grant to a young person, either one of our volunteers or myself meets with them so that we can be as supportive as possible and ensure our funding best meets their needs.
The rewards for me are enormous.
When young people apply for funding they are usually at a point where they wish to improve or turn their lives around so our role is to help facilitate this. Some of the applicants have not had many positive life experiences, so when they are supported it means an awful lot to them, particularly as we are showing confidence in them and supporting them on a journey into training, education or employment.
SAM CHAMERLAIN (email): What’s the most upsetting case you have dealt with? What has been your proudest moment in the role?
WN: As we work with disadvantaged young people, some of the cases can be quite upsetting, particularly when clients have depression or have been abused or are estranged from their parents and have no family. However, we are here to help and this is part of my role, when we support people like this it can be most rewarding, for them and me.
A relatively small amount of funding can change people’s lives and I’m very proud to be a part of that.
SCOTT CARROWAY (letter): What is your view on education? Should we be getting more people into vocational courses rather than expecting everyone to fit the academic mould?
WN: At the trust we know not all young people are the same. Some have strengths in more traditional school subjects, while others want more vocational jobs such as being a plumber or an electrician. Education does provide young people a great platform for getting started in life, however I think it’s important to make young people aware of the options available to them when they do leave school.
There are vocational courses out there for young people, especially if they have struggled with their exams and feel like their options are limited. For example at the trust we run a programme called ‘Get into’ to give young people intensive training and experience in a specific sector of work such as retail or construction.
DOREEN S (email): Does poor performance in school mean youngsters expect to fail in life?
WN: I think many of the young people who come to the trust feel like if they haven’t done well in school, they are unlikely to get a job. Not all feel like this, but for some it can really affect their confidence and motivation.
One of our biggest supporters, HSBC, has backed some research that the trust released earlier this week. The research shows that almost one in five young people in Brighton (19 per cent) expect to end up on benefits. For UK school leavers with poor grades, the number increased significantly to one in three (34 per cent).
These figures are a concern to us and the trust needs more support to help these young people overcome their barriers.
BIZBOSS (online): Should employers take more notice of work experience/practical skills than paper qualifications?
WN: Many of our programmes provide work placements, which give young people the practical skills they need to put on their CV to show employers. We work in partnership with local employers on our courses, who see practical experience as extremely valuable to getting full-time work.
It’s also important to have qualifications, however as discussed, young people shouldn’t feel downhearted if they didn’t achieve at school. There are ways of finding work if they have the right support.
Three in four young people helped by the trust move into work, training or education.
KYLE RANDALL (email): Are exams crushing aspiration among young people?
WN: Exam results can certainly have an effect on young people’s confidence and their hopes for the future.
Our research shows that more than a quarter of young people in Brighton (27 per cent) admit they will ‘always’ feel inferior to those who did better at school. That’s a worrying statistic and it’s more important than ever we work with them to make sure they don’t feel like this.
Young people are our future and at the trust, we believe all of them have the potential to achieve, whether they got the grades in school or not.
Comments are closed on this article.