In 2012, while unemployed himself, Danny Barnes set up a community project in London called Acknowledging Youths to raise aspirations and make a positive contribution to the lives of young people in London and provide education and training and employment.
Danny had a troubled start to his life. Encouraged by his daughter to make a change, he decided to turn his life around and give back to the local area by supporting young people to make positive life choices.
"Whenever I tell people my story, they’re inspired to change their lives. I’ve been in prison myself, I’ve been in gangs, I’ve been homeless. My sister died of leukemia at 14, I grew up not knowing my mum. Because of this is how I’m able to engage with young people and I know exactly what they are going through, having been through the same experience."
Danny wanted to raise the aspirations of young people in inner London who were unemployed and didn’t expect to get work because they lacked both skills and opportunities. He wanted to make a positive contribution to the lives of those young people, by increasing their self-esteem and confidence, giving them new skills and ultimately helping them become more employable.
Danny started Acknowledging Youths by working in the local community to find out more about what local young people needed to support them – he carried out focus groups with local people to work out what he needed to do. Acknowledging Youths now offers young people one to one support to help them identify where they could get work, with writing their CV and training in interview techniques. They also offer the chance for young people to volunteer within the organisation so they can gain valuable work experience.
"When a young person comes to us, they might not be ready to go into a job, so we ask them what they want to achieve, work out what we can do for them and then help them to reach their goals."
Danny recognises that some young people have the potential to start their own businesses. To help them get started, he set up an Enterprise Club in partnership with NatWest. This offers young people the opportunity to do a business course to make sure they’re on the right track and have the best chance to make it on their own.
Acknowledging Youths is going from strength to strength, now running a Community Interest Company staffed by volunteers with Danny as CEO. Their initiative has been recognised with several contracts from the DWP to work in Westminster, Chelsea, Kensington, Hammersmith, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Southwark and looking to expand in entire London.
"I know our approach works and I’m determined to carry on and show that it can be done."
Acknowledging Youths has worked with juvenile ex-offenders, drug dealers, gang members young people in care, and pupil referral units – for young people who are not able to attend mainstream education, often due to exclusion. AY has engaged with over 4000 young people to date.
Youth unemployment is the biggest single issue facing this country today and throwing money at the problem won’t solve it.
AY Group has an excellent track record of success
Since 2012 Acknowledging Youths CIC has helped over 3000 people, including 800+ people who attended courses and workshops, 700 people who found voluntary or Work placements and over 600 people who are now in full-time employment.
We work in Tower Hamlet, Hackney, Newham, Southwark, Hammersmith, Westminster
June-2016 - Ongoing
Developing You Pearson Work skills,
80 Starts - 40 Attending 6-13 Weeks -13 into full-time employment
November 2016- Ongoing
80 Starts-60 Attending 6-13 weeks 40 into full-time employment
80 starts -30 into work
Big Lottery Fund: Free Workshops: Career Advice and Volunteering - Tower Hamlets and Westminster residents
Ongoing activity for young people aged 18+
Career advice: one-to-one interview + individual action plan, mentoring and progression, as well as career exploration
Volunteering: workshops that captures, record and recognises the work
Pathway Group: Acknowledging Youths CIC became a Pearson Edexcel centre - EU and UK students
Ongoing Student Loan Courses
Level 3 & 4 courses for clients who are eligible for Student Loans
ALL QUALIFICATIONS AT LEVEL 3/4
• Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools Level 3
• Business Administration Level 3
• Customer Service Level 3
• Health & Social Care Level 3
• Early Years Level 3
• Management Level 3
• Certificate in Education and Training Level 4
• Certificate in Assessing Vocational Training Level 3
• Hospitality (various) Level 3
• Information Advice and Guidance 3/4
• Retail Level 3
DWP: ReCreate You - Hackney & Tower Hamlets residents
March – August 2016
Engage 50+ clients and provide back to work workshops and one-to-one support to enable them to become job-ready and find sustained employment
DWP: Work experience in Hackney
October 2015 – April 2016
Objective: to add value to a young person’s CV to enable them to move into the labour market.
AY Group & Big Lottery Fund: AY Recruitment CIC part of AY Group London residents
Launch of website www.ay-recruitment.com
To date, received over 250,000 visitors on the website and 20,000 CVs uploaded
AY, DWP & LTEN: Engage to change - Newham residents
Feb 2015 - August 2016
Objective: To support fifty (50) NEET young people 18-24 and 50+ engaged and started the program. 40 candidates from both target groups were placed into work and or voluntary placements and 27 into full-time employment
DWP: Breaking Barriers -Tower Hamlets residents
Objective: To support 125 NEET young people. 96% of our candidates completed the first stage programme and were invited to progress into work-based volunteering.
DWP: Targets achieved
June - December 2014
In Tower Hamlets 40 candidates found employment as a result of our training and support.
Big Lottery Fund: Eysiat an online Retail shop (new and second-hand products) run by the Tower Hamlets community
May 2014 - ongoing
Goal: To provide opportunities for the community who wish to enter the retail and customer services industries, in terms of training programmes, work experience and short term employment roles
Newlon Fusion: NEET programme - Hackney residents
Currently taken on for a small charity working with 12 young people. We are supporting 16-19 year olds into the long term NEET 26 weeks programme
DWP: Employability - Newham residents
February – August 2014
Newham project 50 starts and 40 going into work and voluntary placements and 10 into employment
DWP: NEET - Southwark project
August 2013 – February 2014
Southwark project 30 starts, 12 into employment
Big Lottery Fund: Music forever - Westminster residents
February 2013 – March 2014
Music forever song creation music course - 30 young people attended
DWP: Work to Success - Tower Hamlets residents
October 2013 – June 2014
18-24 years old - 60 started on the programme, 40 into employment and 20 into voluntary placements and work experience
DWP: The Enterprise Club - Tower Hamlets residents
March – September 2013
18-24 years old – The Enterprise club project helped 40 people set up their own business
DWP: NEETS programme - Tower Hamlets residents
January – July 2013
18-24 years old - Tower Hamlets One programme
Engaged with 160 NEETS aged 18-24, 60 started our program, course was delivered to 50 and 29 into work. Our target of 24 was achieved.
Zurich Trust: Youth Forum programme - London residents
January 2012 - Ongoing
- 18-24 years old – Youth Forum programme set up an online youth board to exchange ideas on issues affecting them that include unemployment, education and training. Engaged with over 100 young people.
CDG: Work placement - London residents
Worked with CDG on A Day One Support for young people London Trailblazer offering 13 week placements for young people
DWP: Employability workshops - London residents
October 2011 – April 2012
18-24 years old - delivered Employability workshops that included CV and job search to 200 young people in Westminster, Chelsea, Kensington, Hammersmith, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Southwark.
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