Not one, not two, not three but four groups of young people from across Wrexham and Flintshire have celebrated completion of our WeGrow programme this week! Graduation celebrations for 30 young women who have completed the our WeGrow employment programme were held at Moneypenny and Theatr Clwyd this week. Friends, families, supporters, employer partners and funders gathered to celebrate these young people’s achievements, which have been made despite the challenges of the global pandemic.
While many charities and public services that serve young people have floundered since the first lockdown, our team have been more active than ever. As many opportunities for young people dropped away following that first lockdown, and evidence in an increase in social inequality mounted, we realised that our programmes were more needed than ever before, and resolved to keep on offering them despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. The result is that the three programmes being run in 2019/20 were paused in March 2020 and then restarted as soon as restrictions allowed in August 2020, and four new programmes were launched in Autumn 2020 in Manchester as well as Flintshire and Wrexham. In addition we launched a new virtual programme – called WeDiscover – to engage with those many young people aged 16+ isolated by the pandemic.
This weeks’ celebrations were long-awaited for the 2019/20 graduates, whose graduation could not take place last year due to restrictions. A year on from completing the programme, every single graduate from last year is now in full-time work or education: not only have these young people moved from being ‘prisoners of circumstance’ to ‘pilots of their own lives’, they have become active contributors to the North East Wales economy and role models in their own right.
Every graduate remains a part of our family, which means that those who have yet to secure work or their next steps will continue to benefit from the love, care and support that that brings.
Rachel Clacher, our Chair says:
“What a privilege to share in these young people’s journeys, especially in these unprecedented times. The achievements of these many young people show that transforming young peoples’ futures with opportunities, care and love is an achievable reality with the right support, even in these Covid times. And these celebrations are testament not only to them, but to our team, commissioners, supporters, and allies who have worked so tirelessly to create these programmes.”
Cara a graduate from the 2021 programme commented.
“When I started the programme I thought I was unemployable. As the programme ends, I have two employment opportunities to choose from!”
Hannah graduating from the 2020 programme tried to find the words to sum up her experience with us.
“There are no words to describe what WeMindTheGap did for me in these 6 months. I’m a completely different person now and I’m so grateful I was given the opportunity to better myself”.
Comments like these and learnings about each individuals’ journey are proof of the social return on investment we create, as calculated in a recently commissioned report by Hatch Regeneris. That report on our 6-month paid WeGrow programme concluded that for every £1 invested there is a social return on investment of £3.20; and there is a clear public cost saving of £1.40 for every £1 invested.
We receive funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, to allow us to grow our programmes, changing the futures of underserved young people.
To continue to thrive we need to harness the support of our communities, be loud and proud about our results, and work in partnership with commissioners and corporates with a like minded approach. If you would like to get involved, then please do not hesitate to get in touch email@example.com / 0333 939 8818.