free@last, an organisation who provide opportunities, activities, mentoring and support for children and young people in Nechells, were awarded a £5,000 grant from the Positive Futures Fund to support their Entrepreneur Programme.
Adam Irvine, project lead at free@last shared how the Entrepreneur Programme began:
“It started off a couple years back by asking the young people ‘do you fancy making some money?’ and that lead to teaching them different skills such as jewellery making, crafts, journalism, and music.
“We took a group of young people to the Sutton Coldfield Christmas Market to sell their crafts and it just blossomed from there! That company is now registered as a business and sell clothes and jewellery, we’ve actually linked them with the commonwealth games and the kids are going to manufacture and supply goods during the games.”
The Entrepreneur Programme is built up with various modules, providing bespoke training for the young people to improve their employability. Adam explained:
“We don’t focus on Maths and English, if the young people need support in that then we’ll help them, but we just feel like it’s just tick boxing. We want to make a difference to their CV’s by adding to their portfolio through giving them the experience of learning disciplinary skills.
“One example, we’ve got a lad who comes in and said he wants to be a deckhand on a ship, now we don’t have many ships in Birmingham but we now offer that programme. So what we did was take him out to sail at Arley Green, so he’s learning how to sail and we’ve found a course for him.
“When people ask us if we understand the need of the area, we not only understand it, we tailor our work to it!”
The funding from the Foundation enabled free@last to hire a part-time youth worker, Abi, to solely support the Entrepreneur Programme through designing and expanding the projects. Adam continued:
“It’s been massively beneficial to have Abi on board, we had a huge waiting list and unfortunately had to turn people away, so it’s great we’ve been able to pretty much double our capacity now.
“Anyone with a Nechells postcode is welcome to come and use our facilities, Nechells is a deprived area but we’re wonderfully diverse.”
Yousef, the Debt and Benefit Advisor at free@last, explained what a successful day is to him:
“When they smile when they walk out the door, I don’t let them leave until they’re smiling because I know we’ve solved their problem.”
To read free@last’s impact report, click here.
If you’d like to apply to our Positive Futures Fund, click here.