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young people furthest from the labour market

Talent Match, Legacy 6 and Rehearsal for Life develop essential life skills and resilience for 18-25 year olds

Young woman at a cartoon workshop led by Jim Medway - part of the Legacy 6 project run by darts in Doncaster

We want to provide Doncaster’s young people with opportunities to try new things, challenge themselves, be brave and ultimately become more emotionally resilient. We offer non-traditional progression routes at our building, The Point, and in communities to support and sustain good mental health and wellbeing in children and young people and facilitate children and young people to develop coping mechanisms, improve their social and personal skills and become more resilient over time.

Talent Match
darts delivered the National Lottery funded Talent Match programme in partnership with Sheffield Futures for six years. This focused on improving life chances for young people furthest from the labour market. The programme supported 18-24 year olds who are long term unemployed, not in training or education, with additional barriers to gaining work.

The multiple levels of need of the clients make this a challenging task and our Talent Match Coach, Bob Adams, provided intensive, ongoing support. Bob uses creative techniques alongside life coaching and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) expertise to develop one to one coaching for young people to unlock potential, change attitudes and behaviours, and increase confidence, self-belief and aspiration. The young people we engaged were coping with a raft of complex situations including homelessness, substance misuse, being a care leaver or having a chaotic home life. The majority had mental health needs.

Outcomes for Talent Match have been overwhelmingly positive both locally and Nationally. The 21 partnerships across the country over 5 years worked with 25,881 NEETS young people with multiple and complex needs. This resulted in 10,000 people getting work and 4,000 staying in sustained employment.  18% had achieved a sustained job outcome (over 6 months.) The European Commission named Talent Match as one of the most promising projects around youth unemployment. Over the whole programme 62% had never held engagement, 21% were hidden NEETS, 38% living in the most deprived neighbourhoods.  25% had mental health issues, 16% were homeless, 12% had a conviction, 9% came from Local Authority Care, 7% were drug dependant and 3% alcohol dependant

Our film-maker, James Lockey, created a series of powerful films showing the journey travelled by six young people from across the Sheffield City Region. The films were shown at the Talent Match Conference to over 500 people and received an overwhelmingly positive response:

These films show the amazing journey some people go on and how Talent Match can transform someone’s life for the better.
Wow, I have a lump in my throat – such a powerful journey.

Rehearsal for Life

As the Talent Match programme is based on one-to-one coaching we recognised that having time to work as a group would enable young people to learn from each other in a different way. Real life is not one-to-one and being able to practice real life skills and interactions with others in a safe environment is essential.

Many of the participants were struggling to get out of bed in the morning, were too anxious to catch a bus on their own, could not make eye contact or didn’t have the confidence to introduce themselves to a stranger. These daily challenges make it incredibly difficult to move forward, without the motivation and resilience required to negotiate life’s knockbacks. In response to these challenges, we developed a course called Rehearsal for Life. This enables us to create an environment in which participants are able to talk to each other, discuss things, be honest, be real, be themselves, in a space with other people. Much of the work was based on looking at real life situations and practicing our reactions within a supportive environment.

This course uses action methods and drama techniques to explore dreams, passions, obstacles and identity. Drama practitioners and qualified coaches deliver a range of accessible and engaging activity including:

  • Team Building and the Confidence Continuum
  • What Does Confidence Look Like and How Do I Get It?
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback – What Am I Saying To Myself?
  • How to Say No (or Yes)! And My Support System
  • Active Listening and Goal Setting
  • Interviewing Skills

Drama is crucial to the success of this course, allowing participants to safely practice behaviours, language and responses and enabling individuals to see situations from a range of perspectives.

The impacts have been significant – not least in terms of the groups bonding and building up a trusting and supportive network in itself.  The benefits have been as diverse as the participants: one participant surprised himself by slowly building up his confidence in leaving the house and then staying longer in session each week. He explained that before the course he would often ‘just sit in the corner of my house not seeing anyone for days.’ For others it was recognising that work was actually an option when in the past one to one sessions this had been something that they thought would be ‘impossible.’ For one participant anger was a big issue and he was able up unpick this through the practical exercises he took part in and learn calming techniques for times of stress. Others found their passion and talent in visual arts saying ‘I could do this all day!’ There were unexpected moments of friendships and support that blossomed including one participant saying they would travel to Sheffield with another who really wanted to attend the a festival but was too scared to do this on their own. This resulted in both realising that travelling to Sheffield was actually achievable and this extended the geographical opportunities for work or education.

Legacy 6

As the Talent Match project drew to a close, we were selected as one of the delivery partners to continue supporting a small cohort of Talent Match participants who were most in need. The Legacy 6 Coach Plus project is designed to inspire and support vulnerable young people identified from the Talent Match programme to continue being supported by a close-knit team including therapists, counsellors, involvement support, research and employer liaison roles. Legacy 6 provides and co-ordinates person-centred support pathways that identify needs and achievable aspirations for each young person. Coaches use a solutions-focused approach to engage, motivate and support young people to achieve positive life outcomes. darts is delivering both one to one coaching and small group work in Doncaster as well as Rehearsal for Life courses in Doncaster, Rotherham and Chesterfield.

One of the key pieces of learning that we have drawn from this area of work is that it takes an incredibly long time to support these young people to move forward. Each participant is tackling such a complex range of issues each day that small steps forward can seem epic. We have seen real impacts in the young people who have engaged with us over time, but this is not a quick fix solution for young people to gain the skills to secure and maintain long term employment.


creative   darts   employment   mental health   the point   young people

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