Neglect, broken homes, a challenged education system, a complex benefits system and third generation workless households have culminated in a generation of forgotten young women with few aspirations or opportunities, and who are emotionally and neurologically immature. This problem manifests itself in many young women living in poverty, unable to lead independent lives, with no aspirations, confidence or real choices in life and work.
Our vision is a world in which every young woman has the maturity, aspirations, confidence, independence and skills to have real choices in life and work. Our mission is to give new opportunities in life and work to under-served young women in our local communities through the provision of totally holistic, paid traineeships which address any gaps in maturation, aspiration, confidence, care and skills. This is not about CV-writing workshops and tea and toast for poor unfortunates…or ticking boxes… This is about delivering real and lasting change for young people who deserve better. This is social mobility in action.
THE INSPIRATION The traineeship was the inspiration of Rachel Clacher, Co-founder and Director of Moneypenny, the world’s leading provider of live chat, telephone answering and switchboard solutions that has been voted Top 5 Best Company to work for in the UK. In 2014 Rachel decided to bring the company’s unique approach to people development to a whole new cohort: under-served young women in the local community. The pilot traineeship was so successful that a charity was established in 2015 and called WeMindTheGap.
WHAT WE DO We fill the gaps in our trainees’ lives with the things that the rest of us take for granted, so that they can move into the world with real choices in life and work. We bridge the gap between the public and private sector by bringing employers and agencies together to make a difference on their own doorsteps. We address the gap in such provision for young women in our communities who deserve new opportunities.
THE TRAINEESHIP The WeMindTheGap traineeship is six months of paid employment during which ten young women at a time have a unique opportunity to develop skills, enjoy new experiences, broaden horizons, build friendships, grow confidence, discover talents, grow ambition and basically discover the power of having choices in life and work. Referred by agencies such as Leaving Care, Youth Justice, Women’s Aid and local homeless hostels, our candidates are unemployed young women, aged 18-30 who are often veterans of many work schemes, and for whom the system has run out of options. Over 26 clearly structured weeks, a dedicated and caring team - comprising an ‘Aunty’ (Project Lead), a ‘Big Sister’ (Welfare Officer), five life coaches, ten mentors, ten employer partners, an Essential Skills teacher, many role models and inspiring workshop leaders - provide every bit of love, care, skill, support and experience to allow trainees to move from being ‘prisoners of circumstance to pilots of our own lives’.
THE RESULTS Results to date have been outstanding by any measure: • 70% of participants move from being reliant on the state with few choices to leading totally independent lives with many choices. • It is estimated that participants move from costing the state approximately £25,000 to contributing circa £19,000 per annum. A net economic gain of £44,000 in six months. • A social return on investment of 1:3.7 • For every £10 spent, an additional £7 is leveraged from likeminded employer partners and volunteers who share their time and expertise. While it is easy to get drawn to these numbers, it is the impact that the traineeship is having on individual lives that is truly remarkable: vacancies in homeless hostels, Crown Court sentences revoked, independent living, foreign travel, higher education, inspired siblings, healthier relationships, adult conversations with care givers and social services, volunteering in the community - a few things on a very long list. And even those trainees who do not manage to complete the traineeship recognise the impact that their time has had.
THE COST Providing this unique opportunity for under-served women in our local communities is not cheap to deliver, and that’s primarily because of the importance placed on providing employment for the six-month traineeship. Each traineeship costs £12,000 per trainee to deliver, for ten trainees at a time i.e. £120,000. This cost includes employment for each trainee for six months for 30 hours a week, employment of an ‘Aunty’ and ‘Big Sister’, transport, uniform, coaching, insurances, monitoring and evaluation, workshops and facilitators. Provision of accommodation, transport, secondments for Aunty and Big Sister roles from funders and supporters can offset some of this cost.
THE FUTURE The charity is currently running four traineeships, in Flintshire, Liverpool and Manchester as well as Wrexham. We are looking for new partners to facilitate the delivery of traineeships in new communities every year, and expect to be running 20 traineeships a year in 20 different communities by 2023.