Headstart London - helping young people get ahead in the world of work

4 Dec 2019

Young people in Elephant & Castle are getting a glimpse into the world of work with the help of an inspiring, geographically and demographically focused youth programme: HeadStart Action.

Young people in Elephant & Castle are getting a glimpse into the world of work with the help of an inspiring, geographically and demographically focused youth programme: HeadStart Action.

What is HeadStart Action?

A programme specifically designed for 14-18 year olds in London who are at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training), HeadStart Action is a personal and social development programme.

Developed in partnership with the Mayor of London and Lendlease, this tailored 16-week programme makes use of social action and employer encounters to offer support to young people. The programme covers goal setting, employability skills workshops, mentoring support throughout and including:

  • creating a social action project, empowering young people to instigate social change;
  • taking part in employability skills training workshops, building on their project experiences;
  • attending careers-focused events with corporate partners, who highlight the variety of career available opportunities;
  • attending interviews to secure work experience placements with a corporate partner such as Lendlease; and
  • showcasing their projects in a celebration event, with an opportunity to network with a range of professionals and share their experience on the programme.

Millie, a school pupil who recently took part in the programme, had this to say: “My goal was to be able to socialise with more people and be able to speak more formally. Being able to socialise with people was quite a big step. When we were at the showcase we had to perform in public. It was quite a big step for me, but I was able to do it.”

Shayana Dyer-Harris, Project Manager of renowned performance group Kinetika Bloco (South-Bank-Youth-Company-in-Residence and Arts-Council-National-Portfolio-Organisation) who recently collaborated with students on the programme, added:

“It has been a brilliant experience working with HeadStart Action Southwark, an organisation that truly believes in the people they’re working with. Together, the students and our team were able to develop an idea they believed in and with our support created and delivered high quality material. We were blown away by how talented and hardworking these young people were. It has been one of the most satisfying projects to be on. It wasn’t always a smooth journey, but because Teean and Victoria (HeadStart Action) were so easy to work with, and communicated so well what we needed to achieve, it was a joint journey that we walked through together: young people, {the} HeadStart Action team and ourselves."

HeadStart Action was successfully piloted in 2018 with pupils from Ark Globe Academy, St Thomas the Apostle College and Harris Academy Peckham in Southwark, but has since been rolled out in Hackney, Haringey, Newham and Westminster. As of 2020, over 700 young people have taken part so far and further expansion is expected into Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Brent.

Previous partner employers include KPMG, The Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Avison Young, Hachette, Linklaters, as well as ongoing partners Lendlease.

Schools looking for more information on the HeadStart Action programmes should take a look at the HeadStart website.

Alternatively, you can contact Teean Smith-Robinson by email for more information and ways to be involved: [email protected]

To learn more about careers at Lendlease, and learn more about graduate projects, click here.