It has been a really significant year for WeMindTheGap and the work we do to support young people and create opportunities for them to fulfil their potential.
At such a challenging time for young people following the pandemic, the continuing impact of the rising cost of living and the increase in those facing social isolation, this support is needed now more than ever.
This is why we’ve been working hard with our partners to develop and grow our services to try and reach as many young people across North Wales and North West England as possible.
Some of our key work this year includes:
We launched The Big Conversation in Wrexham in partnership with Wrexham County Borough Council, an ambitious project to engage with hundreds of young people aged 18-21 across Wrexham with the aim of understanding the impact that the Covid pandemic has had on their lives and education.
Working with behaviour change experts Hitch Marketing and with support from Wrexham University we engaged over 400 18-21 year olds in a range of ways, along with over 100 local employers. Our aim with The Big Conversation was always to share our findings widely to enable as many partners as possible working with young people to be able to use this in-depth insight to help shape the way they work and the services they provide so that they can have the biggest impact. It was great to see so many partners join together with us in October to learn from the findings so far, as well as to hear from some of the voices of young people who took part in the research.
This was an unprecedented attempt to get inside the heads and hearts of those whose lives and education were disrupted by the pandemic in Wrexham and to understand what makes them tick so that collectively we can create the right opportunities for them. You can find our findings and our response on our website and we’d be happy to chat with anyone that would like to get involved in working with us to explore how we can work together to do more for our young people.
We were delighted to secure funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to enable us to expand our WeGrow, WeDiscover and WeBelong programmes in Wrexham, Flintshire and North Wales, which provide employability and confidence building opportunities for local young people. WeGrow Flintshire is already in full flow with 10 young adults enrolled and underway with their work placements, while WeGrow in Wrexham will begin in January 2024. Our WeDiscover programme currently has 28 young people actively engaged, with new referrals being received all the time. Finally our WeBelong programme continues to offer support, a cup of tea and a caring person to turn to – anytime.
Also enabled by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and in partnership with Flintshire County Council and Aura Leisure, we officially opened our new Flintshire Hub at the
Jade Jones Pavilion which will support the expansion of our programmes in the area. The Hub is already proving to be a vibrant space for young people to join together to socialise and access any support they may need and it’s wonderful to see so many young people using the Hub. It’s very much been designed working together with young people, with many of our Gappies working with us to paint the space and helping us to make it as warm and welcoming as possible.
Outside of North Wales, we continued to deliver our programmes across the North West and were delighted to work with a cohort of eight young people in Manchester to deliver our WeGrow and WeBelong programme. WeGrow is a wonderful way for young people to gain work experience and qualifications alongside other support such as life coaching. A 12-month programme, it’s open to people aged 18-25 years who receive six months of meaningful work experience (30 hours per week at minimum wage) with WeMindTheGap Employer Partners, followed by six months of dedicated support, and finally access to WeBelong at any point in their lives or careers.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone that has generously given their time and energy to fundraise for WeMindTheGap this year. This includes one of our employer partners, Valto which specialises in Microsoft 365 products, whose colleagues raised an impressed £500 through a sponsored run for WeMindTheGap, which was kindly matched by the company to result in an amazing donation of £1,000.
One of our former Gappie’s Jordan Gillison also donned his running shoes and took on the impressive challenge of the Manchester Marathon this year, whilst friend of WeMindTheGap, Richard Greenhalgh battled the streets of London to take on the London Marathon on our behalf.
Our CEO’s sister-in-law Clare Wheeler and her friend Vicky Page from Mission Fitness Cardiff also took on the mega challenge of running from London to Brighton (100km) to raise funds and awareness for our work.
We can’t thank you enough for your dedication and efforts, it really does make such a big difference in ensuring we can continue to offer our programmes to young people and make a difference to their lives.
We’ve got so much more to come in 2024.
We’ll be continuing to work with partners to explore how we can capitalise on the findings of The Big Conversation and create even more of the right opportunities to enable our young people to thrive.
We’ll also be working with partners to continue to deliver our support programmes that we know are making such a big difference to the lives of young people, and we’ll be keeping you up to date on our progress and the achievements of the young people that we work with.
Once again thank you for your valued support and contribution to our work this year.
We hope you have a wonderful festive season and we look forward to working together in 2024 to improve more young people’s lives.
Please watch and enjoy our Christmas video!
Wishing you all a very joyful, peaceful and warm Christmas holiday, and a Happy New Year from us all.