A scheme to support young people into employment has been welcomed by four youngsters at High Life Highland.
Ryan Macleod (pictured), 22, and Sam Nesbit, 19, are based in Invergordon alongside Evie Strange, 21, and Aaron Godding, 18, in Ullapool, are all taking part in the Kickstart scheme.
The work experiences have been varied, from helping in rural skills classes, assisting in summer holiday hubs, co-leading in the delivery of the John Muir Awards and HLH’s Leadership Programme.
All have been involved in the youth clubs being offered in the two communities.
“The work during my placement has been far out of what I’m used to, but it has all been fantastic experiences.
“Initially, due to my lack of confidence in my ability leading up to the interview, I had convinced myself that I had failed – which made getting the job quite a surprise.
“I feel the scheme has allowed me to grow since I started in the summer and that’s everything that I could have asked for and more.”
The government project encourages employers to take on young people aged between 16 and 24 who are in receipt of Universal Credit and at risk of becoming long term unemployed.
They are six-month placements for a minimum of 25 hours each week.
“I did have bad days as some of the kids’ behaviour wasn’t always great, but it gave me good experience of working with different types of kids,” said Sam.
The 19-year-old added:
“But this role is a great way for the kids to get to know me and become more comfortable with me which eventually leads to them opening up a bit.
“Kickstart has been a great chance for me to learn new skills, get my face known around the local area, open up some more job opportunities and to create new contacts with other youth workers, Action for Children, other High Life Highland employees and my connections at Invergordon Academy are even stronger now.”
HLH youth workers Yvonne Boa in Ullapool and Robert Dinneen in Invergordon have been impressed by the work carried out by the trainees, particularly in how they embraced the scheme.
“Having the opportunity to take on local young people is fantastic.
“My role is not only to employ the young people, but to help build confidence and transferable skills so they can go on and flourish in any job setting.
“Learning is a key part of the whole experience and training has been offered by Highland Third Sector Interface – a charity that supports work with community groups – throughout the placements the Kickstarters themselves are continually identifying the areas of work they feel they need to improve on.
“Our newest recruits have been fantastic, and we would definitely welcome them back – we’ll be sad to see our Kickstarters go once the placement is over.”
High Life Highland Chief Executive Steve Walsh said:
“The pandemic has badly affected a lot of people, and young people who have left school and looking to get into employment are a particular risk group.
“We were very keen from day one to be involved with the Kickstart Scheme and the stories of personal growth and development for all four youngsters who joined the youth work teams in Invergordon and Ullapool are really heartening to hear about.
“We’ll be opening up the Kickstart scheme to other teams within High Life Highland and these four have set the bar high.”