Benjamin Zephaniah calls for more practical help for young people
Looking to the future with Futureversity
AS one of the most well-known figures in contemporary English literature, Benjamin Zephaniah has inspired a generation of young writers across the country.
The poet, playwright and author, who was named as one of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers by The Times in 2008, is among a host of famous faces lending their services as patrons of youth charity Futureversity.
Futureversity has teamed up with a top London housing group for the second year running to promote youth employment and encourage youngsters to get themselves ready for work – a programme Zephaniah feels very passionate about.
Network Housing Group (NHG) and Futureversity are the driving forces behind the innovative Job Ready Programme – a scheme for 16-25 year olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Many of the young people who have been involved with the charity in the past have told Futureversity they don’t feel school is preparing them for work. Zephaniah can empathise with the youngsters as someone who left full time education himself at the age of 13, unable to read or write.
He said: 'The great thing about Futureversity and the Job Ready Programme is that it’s very practical. It focuses on what the students can do, whether that’s music or journalism or photography – I think one of the problems is that society is so driven by different groups who keep saying everyone has to go to university.
'I am a university professor, and I am passionate about higher education and getting the most out of our young people – but not everyone has to go to university. We must develop alternative routes to employment. I have a friend who can’t read and write, but if you put him under the bonnet of a car he can get on and do the job beautifully, because he’s very practical and hands on.'
Futureversity and NHG’s Job Ready Programme will teach students about interview techniques, how to write the perfect CV and cover letter, and will allow them to gain an insight into a range of professions in order to make informed decisions on their career direction. They will also have the opportunity to spend time with older people from NHG housing schemes who can share the stories of their youth with them. Students will also receive a two week work placement within Network Housing Group.
Zephaniah, who is a professor at Brunel University, continued: “Futureversity gives people hope. There are a lot of young people out there who really want to make something of their lives and Futureversity allows them to see that there are things out there for them.
'I’m proud to be a patron of this charity and hope that as many youngsters throughout the city will be encouraged by what it offers as I am.'
Lola Ahonkhai, Job Ready Manager, said she hoped the interaction with the older generation would push young people forward when it comes to finding their own career path.
She added: 'The residents from NHG have fascinating stories to tell our students and it’s my belief that hearing these stories will spur them on to develop their own career, so that they in turn will have similar stories to tell their grandchildren, or the next generation of Futureversity students in 50 years’ time.'
Zephaniah is one of a number of high-profile names to act as patrons to the charity, including Futureversity alumni, East London rapper Dizzee Rascal and MP for Bow and Bethnal Green Rushanara Ali, and Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Network Housing Group comprises six registered providers. The non asset-holding parent in the Group, Network Housing Group Limited, provides strategic leadership and co-ordination, development and corporate services to its six key subsidiary associations: Community Trust Housing, Mitali Housing Association, London Strategic Housing, Network Stadium Housing Association, Riversmead Housing Association, Willow Housing and Care. In addition, Solon Community Network provides independent resident consultancy for the Group. Altogether the Group owns and manages 17,000 homes, mostly in London and Hertfordshire.
- Futureversity and NHG’s Job Ready programme runs three days a week for 11 weeks, with a two-week work placement hosted by NHG. The course is accredited by the National Open College Network and participants receive a qualification to put on their CV. Futureversity and NHG will continue to work with students until they have found a job, or are training towards a job. More than 61% of Job Ready trainees go into employment of training within the first six months of finishing the course.
- Network Housing Group also appeared at number 10 in Inside Housing’s list of the top 50 developing housing associations for completed developments in June 2012.
Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of the Network Housing Group
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