CLARA MURRAY reports from the launch of a celebrity-backed skills and employability programme for disadvantaged youngsters
The Music Relief Foundation has been working with young people in the borough for 10 years from its Thornton Heath base, and today they launched their Change campaign for disadvantaged 16- to 25-year-olds, in partnership with local businesses.
Among those backing the Change campaign is reality TV singer and vocal coach CeCe Sammy.
Change seeks to give young people the skills and confidence to find employment. The charity’s founder, Magdalene Adenaike, told Inside Croydon she was inspired by her own experience of bullying in secondary school and becoming pregnant at 16.
“I wanted to fit in, I wanted to get the accent,” Adenaike said. “I wanted to be like everybody else… I kind of went with that bandwagon.”
Having the support and guidance of adults is vital to keep young people on the right path, she said. “It’s very, very important for me that we’re able to impact young people so they begin to see themselves in a positive light and they begin to aspire for something great – especially those who have not come from an environment that gives them the opportunity.”
The Change programme works with young people from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds as well as low-level first-time offenders.
All participants will first take part in a wellbeing course, designed to teach them goal-setting and other soft skills. They can then specialise in areas such as creative arts, entrepreneurship and coding. At the end of the free four-week programme, work placements with local businesses, including Internship Garage and DNI Talent Solutions, will be on offer.
Sammy, who has appeared on Pop Idol and The X Factor, became involved after Adenaike spotted her on the television news. A Twitter DM later, Sammy-Lightfoot is now a patron of the charity.
Today at the launch she said, “The launch of Change from the Music Relief Foundation is critical to the lives of the young local community. There really is something for every young person keen to be involved. Enrolling in Change now can lead to career prospects and a changed way of life later.”
The campaign is the charity’s latest efforts during the pandemic. MRF held online music classes for teenagers during the first lockdown, culminating in a virtual reality concert.
It has also offered programmes to support teen mothers and run anti-knife crime campaigns.
MRF is inviting local businesses to sign up to offer work experience placements, while larger companies can sponsor a young person to complete the course, details of which can be found by clicking here: https://music-relief.org.
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