Gala night celebrates fifteen years of the Princes Trust in Thurrock

ON 17th December, Thurrock Council celebrated over 15 years of working with youth charity The Prince’s Trust to support local young people into jobs and training. The special event was held at South Essex College Thurrock Campus and attended by a number of special guests including ex-Eastenders actor and Prince’s Trust ambassador, Steve John Shepherd, and The Mayor of Thurrock Councillor, Sue Gray.

Thurrock Council works in partnership with The Trust to deliver Team, a 12-week personal development programme which helps unemployed young people gain the skills and confidence to find work. The event marked the completion of the latest programme, Team 11, where the young people were praised for their community work and personal achievements.

Currently more than one in six (17%) young people in Thurrock are struggling to find work. Team provides unemployed young people with the opportunity to develop key employability skills, gain qualifications and meet new people. During the programme, participants attend workshops to help them with everything from CV writing to job search skills and interview technique. They also go on a residential activities trip, complete two weeks vocational experience and undertake a community project which enables them to make a positive contribution in their local area. This year, The Prince’s Trust celebrated the 25th anniversary of Team, which has supported more than 187,000 young people across the UK. Research from The Prince’s Trust revealed that every £1 invested in Team generates £2.99 in social value.

Thurrock Council has run over 50 Teams since 2001, supporting more than 730 young people. The initiative has contributed to over £250,000 of social value through fundraising and community work. Previous projects saw participants create a bird hide with disabled access at Grangewaters Outdoor Centre, a community building for the Karis May Darling Foundation and an environmental sensory garden for Lifestyle Solutions, which supports adults with disabilities. The latest Team helped prepare and decorate Coalhouse Fort for their Christmas event for children.

During the celebration, each of the young people from Team 11 stood up on stage and told the audience about their personal journey. There were also speeches and entertainment from previous Team participants, including singer Louis Sorrell-Wilde. Director for Children’s Services Carmel Littleton closed the evening.

Nathalie Reason, 25, had battled homelessness, bullying, depression and anxiety. She said, “Before the Prince’s Trust Programme I had a lot of confidence issues, I didn’t leave the house on my own and I felt I wasted the most important years of my life. I had no ambition or thoughts for what I wanted to do to better my future. Some people see this programme as getting out the house and making new friends, but for me it was a lot more, I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t of joined. Since joining Team and meeting such amazing people, I’m excited for the future and can’t wait to find out what’s in store for me. It feels like I’m a different person and I have achieved so much in just 12 weeks, this course has saved my life and I am very grateful to be given this opportunity.”

Thurrock Council has had a number of recent achievements in the running of the Team programme. In the last two years, a group and Team Leader were named Team of the Year and Employee of the Year at the Thurrock Council awards. In November this year, Thurrock Team graduate Amanda White, 22, was named Samsung Young Achiever of the Year at The Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success awards.

The Mayor of Thurrock Councillor Sue Gray said, “Team is a fantastic programme for young people who are lacking confidence and struggling to find work. As well as developing self-belief and equipping young people with key skills, Team also breaks down social barriers, teaching about community and responsibility. We are delighted to work with The Prince’s Trust in Thurrock to support our young people to get on the right track.”

Steve John Shepherd said, “I remember growing up, trying to find direction in my life and the challenges I had to overcome. I was determined to become an actor and I am fortunate to have made that dream possible. But I also know that young people often face so many more challenges, which can affect their confidence. Thanks to support from The Prince’s Trust and programmes like Team, they can regain that self-belief and fulfil their own ambitions.”

John O’Reilly, Director for The Prince’s Trust in Central England said, “Currently more than one in eight young people in the UK are not in work, education or training. At The Prince’s Trust, we know that most young people are motivated to get into work and contribute to society, but often lack the confidence and opportunities to do so. Team is such an important programme, which provides jobless young people with skills, experience and most importantly, self-belief, while benefitting the wider community as well. We are grateful to Thurrock Council for their continued support and look forward to working with them for years to come.”

Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged young people to get their lives on track. The Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training.

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