An inspirational programme to help local young people fulfil their potential and improve their life chances was launched for a second year running with over 120 school students from all seven Crawley secondary schools on Friday, November 17 at the Arora Hotel.
The Be the Change programme has been developed by LoveLocalJobs.com and co-founder Graham Moore to help 13 and 14 year-olds negotiate the gap between education and employment. Volunteer business guides from the local business community play a pivotal role throughout the programme, providing guidance, support and advice for the young people. The impressive list of businesses supporting include Arora Hotel, B&CE, Crawley Borough Council, Gatwick Airport (headline sponsor), Hilton Hotel Gatwick, NatWest and Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.
At the emotional and life changing launch, the students and business volunteers took part in activities that focus on happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability. The activities were led by Graham Moore, a former teacher who understands the challenges facing young people today.
Graham said: "Our vision is for every young person to have raised hope and confidence, to have the chance to develop life skills and create positive cycles that will prepare them for life. Be the Change is a perfect vehicle to help young people develop the qualities and qualifications they need for a better future. The volunteers and the invaluable support and belief of local businesses adds a further dimension and depth to the engagement and journey the young people will experience."
The idea for Be the Change came from Gary Peters, Founder of LoveLocalJobs.com, Gary said: "Year 9 is when young people make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives - from where they fit within their peer groups, to what subjects they will study for their GCSEs. Our job is to help them recognise and build on their strengths and to give them the tools, knowledge and confidence to make the right decisions. We've seen outstanding outcomes from all Be the Change programmes and we are looking forward to making a positive difference to the young people involved in the Crawley and Gatwick programme this year." Head of Community Engagement at LoveLocalJobs.com, Rosanna Farrar, added, "We have once again been overwhelmed by the support of the business community and enthusiasm of the volunteer business mentors. Be the Change is providing is an opportunity for businesses to engage with their future workforce and build awareness of their employer brand amongst local young people so that they a far clearer view of the local opportunities available to them. At the same time they are able to provide a unique and innovative way of engaging their employees with their own internal ethos of investing in people and community, whilst at the same time providing fulfilling and meaningful personal and professional development opportunities for their staff."
Community Engagement Manager, Paula Aldridge from Gatwick Airport, this year's headline sponsor said "Gatwick is pleased, once again, to be a sponsor of the Be the Change programme in Crawley and to be the headline sponsor for 2017/18. Ten Gatwick employees from across the airport will be mentors throughout the programme and will be encouraging the students to make long term changes to aid them in the future. Our objective is to inform, inspire and invest in the next generation of young people about the wide range of STEM skills at the airport and inspire them to choose STEM subjects - helping to build a pipeline of talent for the future."
The schools involved in the programme are: Ifield Community College, Hazelwick School, Holy Trinity Church of England Secondary School, St Wilfrid's Catholic School, The Gatwick School, Oriel High School and Thomas Bennett Community College.
Emlyn Hall, Deputy Head of The Gatwick School said: "This is the first year we have attended Be the Change and we will certainly be back. The students have loved every minute of it. They have been challenged, taken out of their comfort zone but above all have been valued and listened to." Be the Change programmes have been running for the past three years in other parts of the country including East Sussex, Coastal West Sussex, Brighton and Leicester.