The impact CXK makes in closing the gaps between some of society’s most disadvantaged young people and the employment they seek is something that we are incredibly proud of.

As a charity we have been providing support and guidance to young people in the south-east for more than a decade. We recognise that still too many young people feel disillusioned and disadvantaged, and therefore a central part of our work and mission is to break down the barriers that prevent so many from moving positively into education, employment or training.

At CXK, we do just that for more than 50,000 young people and adults every year, across the south. When it comes to the young people we work with, we deliver a range of training and development programmes for disadvantaged and NEET 16-25 year olds. Typically, those programmes provide support for an extended period of time and are designed to provide the support network that so many of them lack. With our help, young people develop friendships, build contacts, get work experience, and build so many of the skills that are vital for work, yet not necessarily learned in the classroom. Skills such as self-worth, leadership, time-keeping, resilience, confidence, social skills and tolerance, to name only a few.

Our Prince’s Trust Team programme, for example, is a 12 week personal development programme designed to help improve the confidence, motivation and work-related skills of vulnerable 16-25 year olds who are NEET. Over the first few weeks of the course, the young people spend a week at a residential activity centre undertaking team-building activities, and learning problem-solving techniques that are vital for gaining employment. They then put the skills they have learned into practice during a community project, before going on to complete a two-week work experience placement in their field of interest. In addition, they benefit from a mentor, and skills building workshops such as CV writing and interview preparation, to get them ‘work ready’, ensuring that their confidence is sky-high when taking their next steps.  

Our Elevate programme, specifically designed for young people who do not hold both Maths and English at GCSE level 4 (grade C) or above, also focuses heavily on the building of vocational skills and confidence, with participants benefitting from 9 weeks of part-time work placements in their field of interest, as well as building Functional Skills qualifications at the right level for them.

In the past year alone, we have supported 1800 young people through our vocational programmes, with more than 80% having gone on to achieve immediate positive outcomes, in the form of employment, training or further education.

Behind the statistics lie many stories of our beneficiaries and their families, and how with the right support they have improved their life chances.

Tia Thornton, 18 and from Canterbury, is just one of the many young people for whom CXK’s support has led to a positive outcome. “As a person in general I’ve grown a lot. Before I could never have spoken to a stranger in the street, but I’ve learned to push through and get on with it. CXK have given me direction, I had ruled out going to college as I had tried twice and neither time worked out, but the course helped me see I can do it. I’ll go back to college in September to study animal management. After that, I want to go to Uni to do Equine Veterinary Physiotherapy.”

Martin Whiteford turned to CXK for help when he struggled to find work after university: “I’ve always been very hard on myself - I have a life goal to get into work and be independent, and felt a failure because I hadn’t yet achieved it.  CXK have shown me that I’m not a failure, I just over-analyse. And I’ve realised that my tendency to over-analyse is a strength because I care; I just need to channel it in the right way.”

Being in an environment where they are learning on the job compared to being in a classroom all the time is great for the young people we work with. Programmes like ours, as the evidence shows, are a great first step towards closing that employment gap.

For further information about CXK’s work, visit cxk.org.

Pauline Smith is Chief Executive of CXK