We looked at how we could deliver a meaningful project in a way that would keep our participants engaged with us and where they could learn new skills without even realising it. We chose Forces Fitness (which is a social enterprise) to be our partner because of the passion and commitment to Health, social equality and improving life chances that the organisation showed.
With this in mind I contacted Sean from Forces Fitness regarding a group of young, vulnerable, unemployed people that I was working with. Whilst this group on an individual level were engaging with our services it tended to be on an ad-hoc basis where they may or may not turn up to an appointment. I was keen to alter this mind set and help them to grow and develop team working skills which are key to them being able to successfully gain and sustain meaningful employment, whilst also increasing confidence in their own abilities.
Sean and I discussed how best we could achieve this, we knew from experience that if we put on a 3 or 4 day course we would not be able to guarantee that everyone would attend each day and be on time.
With this in mind Sean suggested that rather than the group go to the workshop we take the workshop and the group to a venue set in the Afan Valley that was inspiring, calm and away from their everyday reality. After carefully considering the needs of the client group and any risks it was decided that this approach could actually work, and we devised a 3 day 2 night stay Employment Boot-camp.
The programme was developed in such a way that it was aimed at being fun whilst being informative and motivational, and provided ten young unemployed participants the opportunity to participate in accredited training and Healthy living activities.
As many of the group had never met each other we held a welcome session where the participants could meet and get to know each other in order for them to feel more confident. Sean explained to them about the workshop and the venue what was expected of them and what they needed to bring with them.
Set in the Afan Valley Park the group soon got to working as a team to overcome a number of challenges set out by Vale Homes and Forces Fitness. The challenges were aimed at increasing the participants self-confidence in their ability to be able to work both as part of a team and independently.
During their time at the Boot Camp they worked on and produced their own bespoke CV’s, learnt interview skills and took part in a “Dragons Den” workshop where they had to sell a product to judges.
Combined with the accredited training the group also learnt about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and took part in outdoor activities which included “trekking” 6.2 miles up to the wind turbines and completing training at “Airsoft “ in Bridgend. Here the group needed to develop team skills to win the day.
For some this was the first time that they had spent any time outside of Barry in the countryside…For one individual this was the first time that she had actually seen and touched a horse – she had only ever seen them on television. As you can expect this was an emotional time for her.
Moving forward the group have devised their own Watts App group and have completed additional training around interview techniques where we held mock interviews to further build confidence in their ability to stay calm and focused in probably what is the hardest element of getting the job…the actual interview!!.
As of today 6 members of the group have been successful in gaining and maintaining fulltime paid employment and 4 have completed work experience via the Local Authority with 2 of them being offered relief shifts in various departments until permanent posts become available.
All of the participants reported that their confidence and well-being has increased and that they feel that they actually have life choices compared to how they felt about themselves before the Boot-Camp.
It has been my pleasure to spend time with this group of young people – each having their own unique personal experiences of how they have had to deal with and overcome adversity in many areas of their young lives. It has been a privilege for me to see how far each person has grown and developed in such a short time and I am so proud of them.
I have no hesitation in recommending Forces Fitness as the way the team engage, encourage and deliver bespoke workshops is inspirational, and look forward to working with them this year for the benefits of both our tenants and the Community as a whole.