The future looks bright for Hyndburn’s young people thanks to an exciting project inspiring them to overcome barriers to employment, education, and training.
REACH is an 18-month programme funded by the Department of Work and Pensions in partnership with Hyndburn Borough Council.
Community Solutions North West has been commissioned to deliver the service at its base in Elmfield Hall, Gatty Park, to 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit.
[Image: Maggie Moody and Rachael Brodie]
A wraparound service
Rachael Brodie, Youth Hub Lead for REACH, explains how it works.
“We do a ‘warm handover’ in a familiar space, like the Town Hall, then once a young person feels comfortable coming to us, we’ve got a wraparound service here – training, mentoring, counselling, 1-1 sessions, and different groups they can access to create trust in that relationship with us so they feel safe.”
REACH works with young people on:
- Personal development
- Confidence and resilience
- Employability skills
- CV writing, job applications and interview prep
- Mental health and wellbeing
- Work experience and volunteering
- Pathways into apprenticeships, education, and training
There’s also a social element, as many young people who engage with REACH go on to access other Community Solutions groups, like social groups, sewing and knitting groups, cookery classes, arts and crafts sessions.
Blossoming and progressing
Since February 2022, REACH has engaged with 80 young people, seeing individuals blossom and progress into a variety of educational and employment opportunities, ranging from the NHS to a marketing role with a local magician.
Rachael says: “These young people are amazing. They’re really inspirational to me. It’s about boosting them and helping them on their journey to improve their future and the futures of those around them.”
Maggie Moody, CEO of Community Solutions, agrees: “It’s about trying to be inspirational, and trying to really get to know that young person to understand what it is that they really want out of out of life. And then look at how we can make that happen.
“We hear so many times ‘if you do what you love, you won’t work a day’ and that’s where we come at it. It’s about that young person living the best life they can, being fulfilled in their work and their career. It’s not just about the job and ticking boxes – it’s got to be much more than that.”
22-year-old Riley Holt is living proof of the power of REACH. Greeting us in the reception area as we arrive on a bright and crisp Thursday morning, he’s warm, friendly, and funny, welcoming us inside.
When he first heard about Community Solutions, he was 20 years old and on Universal Credit. Since then, he’s become one of REACH’s biggest ambassadors and success stories.
Riley says: “I went to a jobs fair and got talking to Aimee [Fox, from Community Solutions]. Before we knew it, we’d been chatting so long we looked around and everyone had left. A few weeks later, I started coming to the open social group on Thursday afternoons.”
Before long, Riley gained the confidence to volunteer on Community Solutions’ reception twice a week, which gave him enough confidence and work experience to secure a part-time job at Clitheroe Tesco.
He said: “It helped me a lot more than I thought it would. Just talking to people, I actually had things to do, and it wasn’t scary after a while.”
After exploring his creative side at CSNW’s weekly art group, Riley has now enrolled on a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Blackburn College. As we chat, he even volunteers to run the art group during the leader’s upcoming holiday.
A rich creative history
In fact, creativity runs through Elmfield Hall’s history. Built in 1853, it was the home of Frederick Albert Gatty, who created the famous Turkey red dye widely used in the Industrial Revolution.
The weekly art group, funded by a Heritage Lottery grant, runs next door to Mr Gatty’s original dye house, which still contains his original well and dye pit.
So, how would Riley describe REACH to a friend?
Riley laughs: “Well, if it’s been mentioned, it’s because I’ve mentioned it. I have friends who are the way I was, without direction or purpose. I tell them to come here and say ‘you’ll see for yourself’. A lot of people don’t feel like they’re cared about, and everybody wants to be cared about. So, I don’t see an issue with looking out for help and if I can give it, I will.”
Rachael adds: “With Riley, it’s such an amazing thing to see the progression – often, so quickly, from somebody who struggles to come into the building to be at college, engaging, volunteering, and working in such a short time. It’s such a worthwhile programme.”
REACH is a non-judgemental space where young people referred are always welcome.
A constant in the community
Maggie says: “That’s the aim of Community Solutions, of which REACH is now a part. We’re trying to be that constant in the community, so if your journey takes you on a tangent, we’ll still be here.
“Everyone does things at their own pace – we’re trying to support that young person to take that next step, or even the first step. What might seem straightforward for some can be massive for others and change their direction significantly. This is why we do what we do – I get a warm glow knowing we’ve helped someone change their life and that makes us immensely proud.”
To find out more about REACH, visit https://csnw.co.uk/reach/
If you’d like to volunteer with Community Solutions or REACH, or you’re a business owner interested in partnering with the service to offer work experience, careers advice, or job placements for young people, contact Rachael Brodie for an informal chat on 01254 460080