The government’s Kickstart scheme is proving to be a popular way for young people to gain experience in the world of work, but the SVP has taken the initiative to another level.
Kickstart is a six-month work placement for young people claiming Universal Credit, during which time they learn essential workplace skills and gain the knowledge to progress their careers. The Kickstart scheme also mandates that participants are paid at least the minimum wage.
The SVP initially applied for 37 Kickstart placements across most of its operations, including central, retail and community centre functions. However, the Society is offering its Kickstarters far more opportunity and remuneration for their hard work. The SVP is a Living Wage employer, so Kickstarters are paid £9.50 per hour instead of the minimum wage, which is currently between £6.56 and £8.91, depending on age.
Kickstarters at the SVP also have access to a comprehensive training programme, including excellent online training, which includes data protection and safeguarding, and a local induction. There is also training in ‘soft skills’, such as organisation, customer service, retail, and communication.
Additionally, the SVP provides training in job searching, CV writing, applying for jobs, interview skills, career development and planning.
Charlotte Fry, HR & Payroll Manager, says: “The Kickstart roles do not replace other roles within the Society, and they are not a quick fix if we need more help in certain areas. The main factor in the Board getting involved in the Kickstart scheme is to help and develop young people, and possibly retain the best of them in roles within the SVP family.”
The scheme is working well in St Vincent’s shops and other areas of the Society, and the plan is to apply for a further 20 Kickstart positions.
At the end of the six-month placement, our Kickstarters will have all tools required to continue their careers, but we have found they gain far more than that. Many have told us that their time with us has improved their mental health and their confidence.
- Charlotte Fry, HR & Payroll Manager
“We have also found that in the initial period of a placement, some would be anxious, but because we have been flexible and allow them to work at their own pace they have come around, and they flourish, displaying creativity and talent. This isn’t part of the scheme, but it’s the SVP way which is giving these young individuals the confidence to succeed.”
Lily-Rose Duffy, 20, St Vincent’s Southend-on-Sea
“I worked as a carer from 17, then I completed a Health and Social Care Level 2 diploma, but I was unemployed for two years before being offered a place on the SVP Kickstart scheme.
“My job involves putting data on the system, photocopying, filing, and arranging things such as posters. When I joined the SVP, I thought my job would be just simple admin tasks, but I’m involved in much more than that.
“The people I work with are really friendly, and I enjoy coming to work now. It’s really helped my mental health and confidence.”
Sam O’Sullivan, 25, St Vincent’s Southend-on-Sea
“I have worked in retail, as a labourer on building sites, and I have spent a few years unemployed, so I was very happy when I was offered a chance with the Kickstart scheme at the SVP.
“I didn’t know what to expect at first, but I have learned a lot while I have been here. It’s great to be able to get out and learn something new at work, like computer skills, which will serve me well if and when I leave.
“It’s given me confidence to move on with my career.”
Gianina Tanase, 21, St Vincent’s Middlesbrough shop
“I previously worked in a food factory, in a warehouse, and at Middlesbrough college as a receptionist. I spent two years doing a hair and makeup course, but I decided that I didn’t want to take it on to university.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started work with the SVP, but I love it. I have been covering for the shop manager while she is off, sorting out stock, pricing and labelling and tidying. I have done online training in retail and customer facing skills.
“My colleagues and the volunteers are all so nice. I would really like to continue to work for the SVP.”
Jackie McIlwaine, 18, St Vincent’s Moortown shop, Leeds,
“I studied at college for Level 3 personal training, but now I have started my Kickstart placement at the SVP in Leeds. The people here are lovely. My manager, Denise, is the nicest person I have ever met – she’s like family now.
“There is so much more to the job that you expect. I’m learning new things all the time, like just how much work goes into running a successful charity shop.
“Since I have been here, I have loved doing the window displays. I get so excited to colour-coordinate them.”
George Moses, 20, St Vincent’s Bradford (Finance Department)
Finance administration assistant
“I’m three months into my placement and I’m really enjoying it. I applied for apprenticeships after sixth form, but during Covid it was quite difficult to get anywhere, so I applied for the Kickstart scheme, but it was the SVP which gave me a chance.
“I’ve never been good with test papers and the stress which goes with that, so I wanted to start working, but it’s hard when you don’t have work experience.
“Everyone I work with is so kind. If I ask for help, they are always open to helping. Everyone is so nice, it makes my life at work so much easier. It has really helped my confidence and my mental health. I’m hoping to stay at the SVP.”
Andrew Daines, 23, St Vincent’s Bradford
“I’m not sure what I expected when I joined the SVP. I thought it would be a normal office job, but it has not proved to be like that at all. I do a bit of everything at the St Vincent’s centre. I have a background in graphic design, so I help with posters and leaflets, and I have been made project manager of the kitchen and café area, helping with decorating and making it a welcoming place to be.
“No day is the same, and I like the way you work from the ground up to get projects started. For instance, I helped the volunteer programme and we leaflet dropped to get things moving.
“I would love to stay at the SVP. It’s an exciting job. Before I joined the Kickstart scheme I didn’t think I would get a job, and I was quite down, but not only did the SVP give me a job, it’s a job I really like.”