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Innovative bike project boosts confidence of care leavers

Care leavers in Nottingham, who were struggling to find work, have developed new skills and gained valuable work experience through a bike project supported by ASDAN. One participant, an ex-offender, has since gone on to secure paid work.

Nottingham City Council’s leaving care service received a grant of £1,410 from ASDAN in 2017 to enhance the delivery of its employability programme for care leavers aged 17 to 21, who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The grant was used to buy bicycle frames to help young people learn new skills in designing, building, repairing and servicing bikes. In addition to gaining new technical skills under the guidance of qualified bike mechanics, the learners developed transferable skills including:

  • project management
  • working as part of a team
  • following instructions
  • how to communicate effectively
  • providing high quality customer service

The learners’ achievements were accredited through a range of ASDAN courses including WorkrightShort Courses and Personal Development Programmes.

Engaging and motivating experience

“The bike project has been a huge success for the 22 learners who have participated to date,” said Sameer Patel, Employability and Training Support Co-ordinator at Nottingham City Council’s leaving care service.

“It’s been an engaging and motivating experience for the participants, boosting their confidence and self-esteem. It’s also helped them gain the belief to take their next steps into education, employment or training.

“Many of the young people we work with often struggle to build the momentum they need to make positive change in their lives. Some have had bad experiences in education, changed school multiple times or have been excluded. Others have faced barriers, such as mental ill health or reintegrating into society after coming out of prison.

“The aim of our employability programme is to help our young people experience success, raise their aspirations, develop and accredit their skills and knowledge, and start to build up their CVs. We’ve achieved that with many learners through a fantastic bike project that was only possible thanks to the ASDAN grant.

“What’s more, the learners were allowed to keep their bikes once they had built them. This means they now have a form of transport whether this is to work, training or education.”

Transforming lives

Tishawn, right, learns about bike maintenance under the
guidance of a qualified mechanic

Tishawn, aged 21, is one of the bike project’s success stories. As an ex-offender, Tishawn had struggled to find employment, having left school with few qualifications.

“The bike project has given Tishawn a positive focus while looking for employment,” said Sameer. “He has had the opportunity to develop and practise transferable skills and develop routines that are essential in the workplace such as improving his time keeping, attending regularly, working with others and learning about the importance of health and safety in a workplace.”

Tishawn’s activities were accredited through ASDAN’s Workright course and the Careers and Experiencing Work Short Course. Since participating in the project, he has gone on to secure a paid job with a cleaning company.

Flexible courses

Sameer added: “This is our third year delivering ASDAN courses as part of our employability programme for care leavers and it’s been brilliant. We don’t always know how long our learners will need our support for before they are ready to move on; they might need our support for just a few weeks or sometimes several months.

“The flexibility of ASDAN’s courses, which can accredit as little as 10 hours of work, fits perfectly with our requirements. The wide range of courses available means we can cater for the interests of each of our learners, tailor learning to everyone’s needs and help our young people take that first step towards achieving their goals.”

Last year, Nottingham City Council was one of 24 ASDAN registered centres that received a share of £31,000 through our charitable fund. Grants were awarded to help centres invest in projects that increase educational opportunity and alleviate the effects of deprivation and poverty in the UK and overseas.