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Talent Match: Celebrating the successes of South Yorkshire’s young people

darts (Doncaster Community Arts) has produced a series of new films to celebrate the achievements of Talent Match participants

A series of new short films created by darts (Doncaster Community Arts) tell the transformational stories of six young people from across South Yorkshire, who have taken part in national programme Talent Match. Funded by Big Lottery Fund, Talent Match supports people aged 18 to 25 who have not been in employment, education or training for at least 12 months, to gain confidence and skills in order to progress towards getting into work or even starting their own business. Laura’s story is below. Watch the rest of these moving films here.

For every £1 invested in the Talent Match Sheffield City Region programme, of which Doncaster is a part, £3.09 worth of added value has been generated. These benefits include employment, wellbeing, volunteering, training, living conditions and education. Through support from Talent Match, Laura now works as a Support Worker using her own experiences to help people with mental health problems. The saving made for society through the impact of this support is £90,716.

For the past four years our own Talent Match coach Bob Adams has been supporting young people in Doncaster to overcome some of the barriers that have prevented them from moving forward and achieving their potential. Bob has used creative techniques to help over 100 young people gain confidence, improve communication skills, find out what they are good at, what they enjoy and what they want to do next. Many of these young people have experienced homelessness, mental health issues, learning difficulties and some have spent years in care, but with regular support from Bob they have gone on to achieve fantastic things:

• 33 have completed basic skills training, including improving their English and maths skills

• 31 have entered into formal education, completing courses in ICT, Health and Safety in the Workplace and First Aid

• 22 have undertaken volunteering, getting involved in local libraries, charity shops and community groups

• 20 have secured employment with employers including ASOS, Quantum, Wilmott Dixon, Prosec and the Social Prescribing Service

• 13 have sustained employment for longer than 6 months

• 15 have completed work placements with local organisations including SES Rail, DCLT and South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum

• 5 have completed apprenticeships

• 1 has gone into enterprise

Although the aim is for Talent Match participants to get the support they need to move on, many stay in touch with their coaches and keep them updated on their progress. One such participant is Oliver*. When Oliver signed up to the Talent Match programme he was homeless and out of work. He had started University but dropped out and had been employed but lost his job.

After being referred to Bob by his key worker at M25 Group, Oliver embarked upon an apprenticeship with Railtrack. He persevered through cold winter weather and didn’t listen to those who suggested he would be financially better off staying at home and claiming benefits. With support and encouragement from Bob, he completed his apprenticeship and was immediately offered work.

Oliver reflected that he had never successfully completed anything until that point and from then on, doors continued to open for him. Using his previous employment experience, Oliver went on to secure a position in the financial sector, working in the sales arm of a large international organisation in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has since travelled worldwide to countries including Brazil, Malaysia, the Netherlands and the USA, and is currently living in Panama.

Although a unique tale of rags to riches, positive stories of triumph over challenging circumstances are common amongst Talent Match participants and we are incredibly proud of all our young people and their achievements throughout the programme. Bob will continue to support young people from Doncaster until funding comes to an end in December 2018.

If you are interested in finding out more about our creative approach to working with young people who are not in education, employment or training, please contact Lucy Robertshaw on 01302 558054 or email

Talent Match is funded by Big Lottery Fund UK.

*Name changed to protect privacy

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