Tuesday, 03 June 2014

The Challenge joins forces with the Mayor of London to launch Head Start

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Today, The Mayor of London is hosting an event at City Hall to mark the 30th anniversary of National Volunteers’ Week and to launch the HeadStart London scheme. He will be joined by speakers Martine Wright, Paralympian and Team London Champion, and Peter Cheese, CEO Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD).


Young Londoners are being offered the opportunity to gain valuable experience and increase their future employability as a result of two new volunteering schemes being launched by Boris Johnson.

Team London, the Mayor’s citywide volunteering initiative, has teamed up with The Challenge to launch HeadStart London, a programme designed for 16 – 18 year olds who are still in full-time education. They are encouraged to commit to 16 hours volunteering in their local area as a means of gaining valuable experience to prepare them for employment.

Volunteering helps young people develop key skills in communication, team work, organisation and self-discipline – all of which are transferable to the world of work. Research has found that 80% of employers value volunteering on a CV and 84% of those responsible for hiring agree that volunteering is a way to help people find work.

In addition to volunteering, HeadStart London will offer employability workshops including interview and assessment preparation, communications coaching and a guaranteed interview. Over the next three years the programme will work with around 5,000 youngsters giving them valuable experience to put on their CVs, while communities across the capital will benefit from over 60,000 hours of support.

Starbucks and New Look are two businesses already behind the scheme having seen great results during the pilot, which led to them taking on a number of young people for part-time positions. The Mayor is calling on other businesses to recognise the value in volunteering and how it provides youngsters with vital work-related skills.  

A second scheme will see Team London partnering with youth charities City Gateway and Inspire! to support unemployed Londoners aged 16 and over to apply for customer-facing volunteering positions of their choice at sporting and cultural events across the capital. The Team London Volunteers project which is part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), will provide training for young people who may not have prior experience of working with the public. In addition to workshops aimed at improving their communication, motivation and confidence, they will be supported to seek sustained employment or education and training opportunities that build on their volunteering experience.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘We want to clear the path between education and work and raise awareness amongst employers that in gaining volunteering experience, young people are also acquainting themselves with the very skills that will set them up to succeed in the workplace.

‘I urge businesses across the capital to get behind these young people and give them a chance to put what they’ve learnt to real and effective use.’

Veronica Wadley, Senior Advisor for Team London, said: ‘Our ambition is to carry on the spirit of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and build momentum for volunteering across the capital. We’ve developed these programmes for young Londoners to get ahead while giving back.’

The Mayor is also encouraging small charities across the capital to apply for Team London’s Small Grants 2014, a programme that allows local volunteering projects to apply for £10,000 in funding to increase impact volunteering at a local community level. Applications should be made through the Team London website http://volunteerteam.london.gov.uk

The Mayor also confirmed a new partnership between Team London and Do-it.org to create a website that will make it possible for Londoners to volunteer quickly and easily for up to 6 hours at a time.   

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