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Blog: Kellie on Harlow Foyer’s ‘Pop Up Talent’ project

Communities / Mon 9th Dec 2013 at 01:10pm

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AT the start of the Pop Up Talent project, I could see the potential this project has and how lucky I am to be involved, and how lucky those that would be part of it are. When I was their age, there was nothing like this, once school had finished you were left to your own devices. As well as the opportunities for additional learning, taking part in social action and community projects, it could lead to all sorts of employment.

We were given an 8 week plan to follow, and once I had recruited my Pop Up Ambassadors, we set out a plan of what we all wanted to achieve. Our main aim with the Talent Shop was to give everyone a real hands on experience of lots of different careers. We felt this would be more inspiring and memorable unlike other ‘Job Fairs’ where people hand out leaflets, which then, more often than not, end up in a bin and quickly forgotten.

We also decided that through the Pop Up Talent Shop we wanted to help change the perception of the local Foyer and the young people that not only reside here but visit. We reached out to the local council and to the local MPs about local events we could attend.
The first thing on our agenda was the Leisurezone Job Fair organised by the Conservative MP Robert Halfon. It was a fantastic day and for me the Ambassadors really came into their own. They had said in earlier meetings that they were hesitant about going out alone talking to other young people or employers about our event. However, once they got to the job fair they were unbelievable. They decided to pair up although once they started they went off individually and did a brilliant job and got lots of employers expressing interest in the project.

Our next event was the ‘Save Essex Youth Services’ protest with the Labour MP Suzy Stride. We all travelled up to Chelmsford with the Councillors and joined in the demonstration. Two of our Ambassadors were chosen to go into the Council Offices to speak to Councillors about their thoughts on Youth Services, and another two were interviewed by the media, one of which was interviewed by BBC Essex News. They represented themselves impeccably.

We have managed to get the attention of the local media and for three weeks running we were mentioned in a local paper. I took part in a radio interview on our local radio station, Hawks Radio, on the week of the shop and on the actual morning the presenters were advertising our event.
We had some great employers that came along and let everyone have a go, from CM20 Tattoos letting you tattoo on plastic (fake!) skin, Stortford Tiling and Marble came along to inspire them with a trade by letting you try out tiling and Brogue Barbers came to show how creative you can be and turning it into a skill then a career. They also spoke about why and how they started their own business. This is to name but a few as we had many there who were all just as apart of the day as everyone else.

Over the last three months I have seen a big change in all the Ambassadors and the other residents from Harlow Foyer. Everyone is buzzing about the Pop Up Talent project and are really enthused about all three phases. They have also encouraged other 16-25 year olds to join in and their enthusiasm is really rubbing off on everyone else. Other employers are also jumping on board and already we have had interest from three who would like to get involved in running a community or social action project.
Having been asked to write this blog about the Pop Up Talent Shop I was hesitant as I didn’t believe it would capture my true feelings. To see such a change in the Ambassadors has been amazing to witness and to be apart of. I am so proud of each and every one of them. They are not only a credit to themselves and Harlow Foyer, but also to the community. They really have shown that anything is achievable, which is something that before this project not all of them had, from little aspiration, faith, self-belief, or confidence to lack of motivation, and now they are encouraging others to believe in themselves. It really is amazing to see.

For me on a personal level this whole experience is incredible. I came into Harlow Foyer as a volunteer for another employer after a life changing event but when I had to leave to find paid work I was asked if I would like to work here as part of the Pop Up Talent project, then I could gain the training I would need so that should a position become vacant I would have the opportunity to go for it, that would be another way into paid employment. Sometimes opportunity will present itself, or you have to create it yourself. That’s how putting myself out there and meeting different people is now leading to me taking control of my life, becoming independent and furthering my career. I think it puts me in a good position to show others.

This experience has not only given me confidence and self-esteem but it has made me believe in myself and part of that is watching the effect this project and myself has had on the others involved and has shown that my empathy and understanding of others encourages them to move forward in their own lives, which is inspiring to them and to me.

I have got so much out of working with the Ambassadors that I almost feel a bit selfish. Every day I wake up I can’t believe how lucky I am to of been given this opportunity, and if I can pass on a little of the belief that I have in them then I really am the luckiest person in the world.

Blog reproduced with permission from: http://about.popuptalent.org/

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