Edventure: Frome are a local not-for-profit organisation working closely with young people and the wider community in Frome. Having seen how the pandemic has disproportionately affected young people, Edventure decided to take practical action to combat soaring unemployment amongst under 25s in our community. In March 2020 they launched their Kickstart: Frome project, partnering with local organisations to access the Government’s Kickstart Scheme and create paid, part-time job placements for people aged-18-24 on Universal Credit. So far 88 kickstart placements have been created with 32 different employers in Frome and surrounding areas.

As well as paid work for 6 months, young people also get to work on a climate project within their organisation, and they come together once a week at Edventure for a training programme specially designed to support them to step towards a livelihood that matters to them. Here, one Kickstarter shares her story:

Sylvie shares her experience of having a placement with Kickstart: Frome

Kickstart has turned out to be a massive game changer for me, and I am truly grateful for the scheme. It came at a time where I felt I was hanging on by a thread. Like lots of people, I lost my job last year due to Covid, disrupting my plans to move to Bristol and leave home (again). In retrospect, it’s easy to look back and see my kickstart experience in black and white: I was made redundant and consequently had to put my plans on hold for a while, then kickstart came along and my placement allowed me to find a full time job in Bristol and get back on track. 

Sylvie at her Kickstart Placement with Edventure: Frome

So the scheme fulfilled its purpose; to put young people in a better position to find a job. However, I think the important bit is how it put me in a better position. It’s easy to overlook the fact that both the job centre and Edventure were dealing with people who had been pretty shaken up by lockdown. I think it’s fair to say that people across the board had been badly affected by the pandemic, so it wasn’t your average recruitment process. 

At first I was skeptical that this was a government ‘numbers game’ initiative, but luckily kickstart totally proved me wrong. It’s structured in such a way that recognises what many 18 – 24 year olds must’ve been through. So many young people were forced to put their lives on hold. It takes a lot of energy to work out what you want to do at that age and put yourself out there, and it’s near impossible to do so and keep that momentum going during a pandemic. I treated applying for jobs like a 9 – 5 job in itself and I wish I didn’t because it is soul destroying. 

But alas, Kickstart came along and I could finally apply to jobs that I was interested in. Jobs with local companies that I knew and liked, jobs that I knew I stood a chance of getting, and jobs that I actually heard back from. The government funded scheme allowed small businesses, who wouldn’t necessarily be in a position to afford to employ someone else, to create opportunities for people. I was lucky enough to be given a few offers which, besides instilling some confidence in me, enabled me to connect with some ace people and see how small businesses have weathered, or came into fruition during the pandemic.

Getting certified in first-aid at Edventure’s weekly Kickstart: Frome Training

Alongside gaining skills within a company I admired, I also attended the kickstart training with Edventure. This involved a range of interesting, varied sessions on confidence, intrapreneurship, climate change, and first-aid-training. Whilst we were constantly told throughout the pandemic that we’re all ‘in this together’, it’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re isolated in a room, sending applications out to the abyss. The Kickstart training enabled me to meet other people who all shared their individual experiences of the pandemic. It took seeing people in person and hearing everyone’s stories to realise that I really wasn’t the only one going through it. We were all in a similar boat (sinking!). But now I am finally moving forwards with cautious optimism. 

Collecting donations of gardening tools for the Future Shed Frome project.

Overall, kickstart has done much more than get me a job. It has provided me with a network of support, allowed me to connect with interesting, resilient small businesses, and built my confidence back up again. I feel hopeful and excited for the future again, and I have Kickstart to thank. I am very grateful for it and would encourage anyone in the position to apply to a kickstart position to do so. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for career experience or you’re just looking for a stop-gap to earn some extra income. The nature of the scheme is to help young people get back on their feet. It’s flexible, supportive, varied and there are some really great paid opportunities that 18 – 24 year olds wouldn’t usually have access to. I feel like if you’re looking for work, you have nothing to lose by applying. 

If you’re aged 16-24 and unemployed, check out currently available placements at Kickstart: Frome. You’ll get a paid, part-time, 6-month job placement within a local organisation. You’ll also become part of a cohort of young adults in/around Frome who participate in weekly training sessions by Edventure: Frome that offer practical support to increase your long-term chances of employment, to provide an environment for action learning and reflection, and to deepen your knowledge of sustainability issues and the green sector. Our intention is to support you to build a livelihood that matters to you.