Kickstarters making a difference

21 June 2021
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Kick Start- a great stepping stone to university

Erica Cheetam, Social Prescribing Administrator, Age UK Scarborough & District.

My name is Erica and I’m 20 years old. I’m currently working for Age UK Scarborough & Ryedale as a Social Prescribing Administrator on the new Kick Start programme.

I completed my A levels at a local secondary school. We were all expected to go to university after this so I applied to a few universities, but in truth, I wasn’t sure I was ready for this. A friend suggested that I should consider becoming an au-pair. I applied through an agency and was surprised that within a couple of weeks, I had a host family and was on my way to Rome, Italy.

This was an amazing experience that helped me gain self-confidence. Then COVID-19 hit and things got really difficult.  I moved to a new post in Milan but with borders closing, lockdowns and Brexit, I ended up coming back home to North Yorkshire.

By this point, I was certain I wanted to go to university, so applied and was offered a place at Liverpool John Moore’s to study Media, Culture and Communications; however, in the meanwhile, I needed a job to tide me over.  I applied for Universal Credit, attended a workshop to find out more about the Kick Start programme and then signed up. I was really pleased that I was able to take on my current role as it’s allowing me to gain some new transferrable skills that I will be able to take to university and into a job beyond that.

After being isolated from everyone due to the pandemic, it has been great that my role allows me to talk to lots of people who are often isolated themselves living in rural parts of the county. It’s certainly improved my communications skills. What I’ve also liked is that through the Kick Start scheme, I have been able to access other training such as refreshers on Microsoft Office.

I would definitely recommend Kick Start to other young people because it really does prepare you for the real world of work. In my case, it was a perfect stepping- stone to the next stage in my career and life. My one piece of advice to others would be ‘don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions’. We all have to start from somewhere and admitting you don’t know something is the best way to fill that knowledge gap. 

Kickstart Case Study: Alex Gartland

Communications Executive, Ortial Technologies (Sister Company to Techbuyer)

I’m Alex Gartland and I’m 21. I’m originally from the North East and was studying Biology at university until Covid-19 struck and it became untenable for me to continue my lab-based work. I decided to put university on hold until life and academia returns to some kind of normality.

In the meanwhile, I needed to earn some money and took on casual bar jobs. This didn’t really work out for me so I applied for Universal Credit and it was my Job Coach who told me about the Kickstart scheme.

The role I applied for was Sales Associate at Techbuyer. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I didn’t really have the qualifications and experience I assumed a role like this would need. I attended the interview and at the end, I was offered the role I’m working in now which is more marketing-focused.

I’ve only been in the role a week, along with a colleague who has also joined on the Kickstart scheme but I’m really enjoying it. As part of an induction, I’m working my way around the different departments of the business. I love technology, building technology and talking about technology so this role is perfect for me. I’ve already started to create communications content and am getting involved in research projects, so these are really great skills for me to develop.

I’m still planning on finishing my university degree when the time is right. For now, I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s really useful that I can build my connections in this industry. Its early days and there’s no guarantee but my employers and I have started to talk about me taking on a permanent role after my six month placement has ended which would be a win-win for the both of us.

Kickstart Case Study: Leah Millard

Administration Assistant, Yorkshire in Business

I’m Leah Millard and I’m 24. I come from Scarborough; however, have spent the past 5 years in and around London studying at university. I have a Psychology Honours Degree and a Masters in Early Intervention in Psychosis. However, the pandemic hit halfway through my Masters and I returned home to Scarborough.

After I had finished my Masters, I set about finding a job but there were very few available. I was happy to be back home and welcomed the break from academia, but I needed a job and an income. I’d heard about the Kickstart programme on the news and when my Job Coach mentioned this to me, I was very interested in applying. Initially, I didn’t think I was going to find the job that was right for me in Scarborough, but I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a great role at Yorkshire in Business (YIB).

YIB is an organisation that offers a broad range of services. They are also a Kickstart Gateway organisation. So, the funny thing about my role with YIB is that I am now managing Kickstarters like myself. On a typical day I am working with the DWP, local businesses and employers as well as candidates who are looking to join the programme. I have been really surprised by the range of roles that are being offered in Scarborough, from Games Design to Vehicle Restoration Specialist. It’s really opened my eyes to how varied the businesses are in our region.

I’m enjoying my role. It has definitely helped build my confidence and improved my people skills. I’ve also learnt how to manage and prioritise my workload. Since beginning my Kickstart role, I have been accepted onto a PhD programme at the University of Manchester, which I will be starting at the end of my six month Kickstart placement. I’m looking forward to applying the skills I’ve developed in my role at YIB to the next stage of my career.

I’m very glad I took on this Kickstart role and would recommend it to other young people. I think that six months is an ideal placement duration as it gives you enough time to really get stuck into the job, but also allows you time to think about where to go next. In my role at YIB, I’m talking with companies who may well be offering their Kickstarters a permanent job afterwards, which would be an amazing result.

Read more stories like this one in our Annual Report 2021.

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