This is WeMindTheGap’s 2nd WeDiscover programme. It was introduced by the charity as a response to the pandemic in 2020. The purpose of the programme is to help reengage 16-18 year olds, after their schools were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laura Columbine leads the programme, along with her team Ellie, Alex, Sam and Huwey. They host daily interactive sessions, from games and creativity workshops to Maths and English classes, all taking place over Zoom. The young people are also given the opportunity to design their final week of the programme, based on what they had enjoyed the most.

WeMindTheGap invites guest speakers such as Paralympians, NHS Intensive Care workers, BBC Camera Operators and Instagram/ TikTok Stars to come along and tell their stories to the young people who take part in the programme. The guest speakers have given some powerful advice, often encouraging the young people to say yes to every opportunity, and to understand that their voices are important and should be heard.

The Charity’s virtual programme has recently supported a 17 year old, who left High School in his 2nd year, after being unable to engage in academic subjects. When he first joined the WeDiscover programme, he was extremely nervous. He agreed to join sessions but with kept his camera and microphone off, using the ‘chat’ function to communicate. By the end of the programme, he had built the confidence to join every session and openly participate in discussions using the microphone. The team were pleased to hear from his support network that his engagement with the programme has had a positive effect on the wider family. He has now returned to football training and wishes to apply for college this coming September.

He says,

The big thing for me is having a routine. With everything being closed due to lockdown I was just waking up and doing whatever. Now I have a set time to do things, otherwise I would just lie in bed. Also talking to different people has been great for me. My life is easier now that I have some structure and something to do.

The WeDiscover team are due to launch their next programme on May 17th and hope to be able to continue to reengage more young people with education and training after a difficult 12 months.

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