A group of young Kickstarters join Artswork and our partner organisations to bring a fresh perspective
Date Created: 22nd Sep 2021
In July 2020, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the launch of a new Kickstart scheme to boost the economy and the job market, and to be one prong of a multi-layered approach to assist the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. This came as welcome news to the thousands of businesses and organisations which suffered catastrophically, and to the under 25s; who made up two-thirds of all those who lost their jobs since February 2020. The scheme officially launched on Wednesday 2nd September last year, and Artswork was one of the employers who signed up to it. As an organisation we focus on assisting children and young people to achieve their potential and using youth voices to facilitate those possibilities. Therefore, it made sense to take on local young people aged 16-24 and invite them to work with us as ‘experts’ by contributing towards our continuing vision while learning valuable transferrable skills and broadening their horizons.
As of 4th May this year, 16,500 young people had been enrolled on the scheme. At Artswork, we have welcomed two Cohorts of young people into our family, comprising of 22 participants, some of whom have stayed with us internally, but have mostly spread out across several partner organisations across the South East, including The Museum of the Royal Navy, MAST, Delight, New Carnival Company, Poole Museum, Southampton CEP, John Hansard Gallery, and Southampton Music Hub. This spread of youth voices across the area means nearly all the localities Artswork is involved in can have the input of a young perspective and contribution to where we are going as an organisation. And it is proving very beneficial for those on their 6-month work placements, such as Lisa from Cohort one, who says:
“Art is such an integral part of my life and being able to expand my skills with Artswork via the government Kickstart scheme has been a fantastic opportunity and I’m really enjoying it!”
Here at Artswork, we have done things a little differently from other employers; by taking on the young people in a staggered way, with the first cohort beginning employment on July 12th. This worked more beneficially than all 22 starting in the same week and trying to navigate their way through training and viewing a host of small tiles on a Zoom call simultaneously. Trainers Jane and Anna much preferred to work with two separate groups as they predicted it would more easily enable the new employees’ personalities to come to the fore, and they would find their feet more comfortably; with enhanced one-to-one support if needed. The other benefit of recruiting this way is it enables those young people who may have missed out on joining the scheme the first time around – whether that be because they have since left full time education or have suddenly found themselves out of work, to have the chance to join the second Cohort, which began on September 6th.
“Being a Kickstarter is possibly the best challenge I’ve undertaken. It’s gently pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged some elements of self-doubt that I possessed prior to joining the programme. Meeting new people and being part of a team has been the most enjoyable experience and one that I’ll never forget. Being a Kickstarter has allowed me to start an incredible journey and I’m so excited to see what other paths I’m taken down because of it” – Tasha, Cohort Two.
The training of young people at Artswork is not a new path for us; as it builds upon previous work-based learning work, including Apprenticeships. The apprentices from this year’s programme were more than happy to write blogs at the end of their learning. Some were even kept in permanent roles, such as Events Assistant Harry, who completed his Apprenticeship between October 2019 and April 2021.
One of our new Kickstarters, Lisa, has previously been with Artswork too, on a Community Arts Administration Apprenticeship between 2017 and 2018, and has also written a blog on her experience. Writing blogs is something we are keeping up with Cohort one of the Kickstarters – Grace wrote her first one for us last month and has more planned.
Another one of our main direct initiatives with young people in the same age group, our successful Portsmouth Creative Skills programme has just wrapped up its fourth year of delivery, focusing on helping young people to realise their hidden talents and abilities and increase their employment prospects. This too is the overarching aim of Kickstart; although all training and learning is delivered in a paid work environment. It’s been a couple of months since our first group embarked upon their journeys…
11 weeks in – where are they now? A snapshot at Cohort one’s projects:
- Basil and Hannah have been conducting a great deal of research in their roles as Diversity & Inclusion Assistants (at Southampton CEP (Cultural Educational Partnership), and collaborating with Sophie. Their project is on Youth Voice and they are presenting it to the CEP steering group on Thursday 23rd. They are all passionate about making the arts and culture accessible to everyone and promoting a culture of inclusivity and diversity; as well as ensuring all involved are able to feel and be themselves.
- Sophie has also been working in her role as Programme Development Assistant; in which she splits her time between the CEP and MAST theatre. She is enjoying working in an environment that taps so well into her passion of drama and relates to her degree.
- Thomas and Annabel have been very busy working with The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Gosport Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower too, in their roles as Museum Programming Assistants. They have been helping to run children’s activities, prepare and organise displays as well as dismantling them for the next exciting exhibitions.
- And Grace and Lisa have been working on expanding their social media and marketing skills through creating new company graphics and banners, writing blogs and news articles, working on a newsletter and using our social media platforms to continue engaging our followers and reach more people.
Cohort two are just beginning their journeys, working in roles such as Organisational Consultancy Assistants, Research and Development Assistants and Administrative Assistants. We are looking forward to seeing where they will be in a couple of months time; and indeed how all of our Kickstarters will have progressed and developed by the time their journeys with us come to an end early next year.
“It was key for Artswork to offer Kickstart programmes and wrap around training offers to ensure that creative organisations were represented as part of this government initiative to support young people in employability. We wanted to celebrate and advocate to both young people and workplace partners the essential message that the Creative and Cultural Industry is a credible career route. We have been overwhelmed by the brilliant young people enrolled on the programme. They have all been charged with considering how their youth voice can make a difference not to the future of our Industry, but NOW!” – Jane and Anna, Kickstart and Apprenticeship Trainers
We will be keeping our News page updated with everything happening at Artswork and with our partners, including the Kickstart scheme, so keep an eye for our next news story.