Young people who are struggling to find work are being given new opportunities thanks to a successful pilot scheme at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Voluntary Norfolk at the North Lynn Discovery Centre and The Hospital are working together on the Talent Match programme to open up new avenues for youngsters who are not in work or fulltime education.
This scheme aims to help 18 to 24-year-olds become ready for employment by providing meaningful work experience over eight weeks.
Talent Match, which will be taking on a second cohort in August, proved to be incredibly successful for the first group, who are moving onto fresh volunteering opportunities and job interviews.
Gemma Self, 25, of North Lynn, was among the initial cohort and says the scheme has helped to increase her confidence.
She had been referred to Voluntary Norfolk and Talent Match by the Job Centre and has not looked back.
Gemma has been helping at the front desk of the Hospital where she has been asking visitors to wash their hands on arrival and directing patients to their appointments.
Now Gemma is planning to become a volunteer within the Hospital’s Patient Experience Team.
Gemma, who is also undertaking maths studies, said: “Before I came to Talent Match I would not have had the confidence to speak to anyone unless they had asked me a question.
“Now I can talk to anyone and ask them anything. This has really boosted my confidence. I am hoping that Talent Match will lead me to a caring job at the Hospital. I would love to work at the Hospital as everyone I have met has been lovely and caring.”
Voluntary Services Manager Paul Holley-Smith is working with Voluntary Norfolk’s Young Persons Advocate Kirsty Scott on the successful programme.
Potential candidates must have been out of work or fulltime education for 12 months and are referred by the Job Centre and local hostels.
Kirsty then has an interview with the candidate to find out what they are interested in before moving onto the next stage.
She said: “We always try to find opportunities with local organisations to provide realistic work experience and the Talent Match scheme with the Hospital is helping to make a big difference.
“I have been really impressed that our volunteers have shown determination to progress themselves. It is amazing what they have achieved over the eight weeks.”
Visitors to the Hospital may have seen the first Talent Match volunteers, who are wearing pale blue shirts, at the front desk.
The five candidates have been working with some of the hospital’s existing volunteers in manning the front desk where they have assisted patients in wheelchairs to their appointments.
One of the volunteers, Danny Read, received a special thank you from Chief Nurse Emma Hardwick and Infection Prevention and Control Lead Nurse Glynis Bennett for ensuring visitors were washing their hands on arrival at the Hospital. Danny proved to be so successful that queues of people were waiting outside the door to use the sinks in the foyer.
Paul said: “The feedback we have had from people using the service has been very positive and the young people state that the project has exceeded their expectations.
“It has been very inspiring and makes all of the hard work worthwhile. So far three of the five young people have gone onto other things, with some becoming volunteers with us.
“Patients and staff have praised the young people for being bubbly, enthusiastic and helpful. That has made it all worthwhile.”
Chief Executive Jon Green said: “The local community give so much to the Hospital with the countless fundraising events and thousands of pounds donated each year.
“I am proud that we are able to host this worthwhile scheme, which is helping young people to gain new skills and forge a new path.
“All of the staff at the Hospital are proud to serve the people of West Norfolk.”
Pictured are: Potential candidate Justin Barrs with Voluntary Services Manager Paul Holley-Smith, Jasmin Everett, Jade Woodley, Gemma Self and Young Person’s Advocate Kirsty Scott.