To celebrate International Youth Day on 12 August, here is the story of Mike, who has recently been supported by the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project to find employment. Places Foundation runs the project, funded by the National Lottery Communities Fund and European Social Fund, which provides employment and training support to people in Lancashire.

Determined to make a positive change

Mike was referred to the BBO Invest in Youth programme after completing a short work experience course with the Prince's Trust. He had been determined to make a positive change in his life but did not know where to start, as he had not previously been given any advice or guidance about building a career and managing his health. He had developed paralysis down one side of his body suddenly a number of years ago, and was concerned to what extent this disability would prevent him from entering and succeeding in the workplace.

Identifying skills and experience

Mike met with BBO keyworker Rory Monaghan, who over the following few months met with Mike regularly and provided one to one support sessions in a range of areas, from identifying Mike's skills and experience to highlighting what job sectors he would be suited to. Mike was particularly apprehensive about applying for roles and attending interviews, so Rory provided support with application forms and skills to impress at interview. Mike had also identified that he was becoming increasingly frustrated at home all day and was losing confidence while friends were out working or studying. As a first step, Rory supported Mike while building confidence and identifying ways to make a positive impact in his local community - as a result, Mike began volunteering with a local charity at their regular IT drop in sessions for local residents.

A brighter future

After building his skills and confidence, and with Rory's support, Mike was successful in his application for an administrative role with the Department for Work and Pensions in Blackpool, which he is very excited to get started. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in the application process being paused for a number of months. However, during this time Rory has continued to provide support meetings via phone call and video chats with Mike, support him to liaise with his new employer and assist him in completing forms for Occupational Health ahead of his new start date. This support has increased Mike's belief that he will be able to succeed in his new role and sustain his employment. Mike has now received his start date at the end of August and cannot wait to get started in his first paid job role.

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