Enabling the next generation into the workplace

By Anita Gagen, The Matthew Project
Aged 21, Aaron was struggling. He was unemployed, without qualifications, and facing multiple barriers. Only a few months earlier, things had been different, he’d been teaching archery in Norfolk and was completing an outdoor adventure course .
Published in Norfolk Director Winter 2023
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Enabling the next generation into the workplace 1

This project is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Giving Back: The Matthew Project

Enabling the next generation into the workplace 5

However, COVID-19 put a stop to all of this. He lost his job, and the adventure qualification he’d been studying for was cancelled. The industry he had spent his young adult life working towards suddenly felt remote and inaccessible.

His self-confidence plummeted, and he turned to the Matthew Project On Track programme for support.

Since 2017, On Track has supported young people like Aaron across Norfolk. The service works with 16 to 24-year-olds facing barriers to work, including mental ill health, learning difficulties, substance misuse, homelessness and offending.

Our coaches work across the county to improve young people’s self-confidence, resilience and life skills, helping them to reach their potential. Participants can access a range of activities, including skills-based training, wellbeing activities, volunteering opportunities and industrial insight workshops.

After turning to On Track, Aaron was matched with a coach and given tailored support, including one-to-one local support and access to work-based and therapeutic group activities. He attended 43 different activities and particularly enjoyed the football sessions, which helped to rekindle his interest in the sport.

Through the combination of coaching support and activities, Aaron made quick progress, and his confidence grew. He left the programme keen to do more work experience and full of hope for his future. “I think it has made a huge difference, how confident I am now compared to how I was,” he said. “It is a huge leap. I now know which direction I want to go.”

Working together

Young people today are the future entrepreneurs, pioneers, business leaders and workforce of our future.

On Track is currently funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, although funding for this service comes to an end in March 2023, leaving a massive gap for young people. Our service is one-of-a-kind; no one does what we do in Norfolk.

Sponsoring a positive activities workshop, a participant in the programme, or paying for a coach for a year will protect our shared future, ensuring well-equipped, resilient, confident and trained young people are part of our workforce.

Here is the link to a recent film we made about our service: On Track Service: Clearing barriers to employment for young people in Norfolk – YouTube

Alongside On Track, the Matthew Project also supports over 1,500 people per year, including young people affected by substance misuse, veterans, adults in recovery from addiction, young people needing mental health support, and families.

The Matthew Project team do this through outreach work across Norfolk, with additional veteran-led support in Suffolk, Essex, and Cambridgeshire, and a Norwich-based recovery hub with a range of facilities for further support.

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If you think you could work with us, please get in touch. Anita Gagen is Team Manager for On Track at The Matthew Project.

T: 01603 723845
Or visit www.ontracknorfolk.org

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