Pioneering project supporting young people extended across North Wales
A new skills and support project for vulnerable and often disadvantaged young people will be rolled out across North Wales.
The WeMindTheGap WeDiscover programme has already had a positive impact on 16- to 25-year-old participants in Conwy County and as a result, the scheme will now also be available to applicants who are NEET (not in Education, Employment or Training) in Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, and Anglesey.
The scheme has been a major success in Wales and the North West, and since programmes began in 2014 they have been involved in supporting up to 250 young people, delivering more than £5.5m in social value and over £2.5m in public savings.
As well as access to IT equipment and presentations by guest speakers such as MMA fighter Aaron Aby and a zookeeper from Welsh Mountain Zoo, those taking part enjoyed days out, helped with community events and received prizes for engagement.
Participants praised mentors for changing their lives and giving them the confidence to capitalise on post-pandemic opportunities.
Among them was MJ, a young carer who struggled with mental health issues and admitted to joining WeDiscover for “something to do” having lacked motivation on leaving school.
“I wasn’t doing much besides playing video games and doing art from time to time, though I was losing my passion for it,” they said.
“My sister found the course online and I originally didn’t think I would do it, or maybe go for one day, but I stayed and am so glad I did because it was an incredible experience.”
“The mentors were nice and kind and whenever I needed to talk, they were there for me; it’s been an amazing journey and I feel like a completely different person.
“I love art and am very creative so the virtual and in person sessions gave me a boost, so much so that I plan to start selling my artwork and will take it forward as a business.”
MJ’s progress and commitment was rewarded with a voucher for art equipment.
WeDiscover programme lead Laura Columbine said: “We will now work with local agencies, families, charities and organisations to seek referrals and demonstrate the value of taking this project forward,” she said.
“One of the new partnerships forged in past months was with the Marine Conservation Society, and we will be looking to add more to have a lasting, sustainable effect on the environment, the economy and importantly the futures of the young people involved.”
Libby Duo, Strategic Manager for Conwy Employment Service, added: “We now have an opportunity to do even more, targeting other areas of North Wales to make a real, lasting difference after what has been a challenging couple of years.
“We encourage more families and agencies to get in touch because this is a chance to do something special, to help young people take that first step on the path to their future career, to overcome adversity and lay the foundations for a brighter future.”
WeDiscover taster sessions will be taking place from September 19, before the programme begins October 3. To sign up for the WeDiscover programme and for more information, email Laura or call 0333 939 8818. Visit Mind The Gap website or Conwy Employment Hub for more information.
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