Skills to Shine forensics_miniNearly 250 school pupils have seized the opportunity to run their own businesses as the acclaimed Skills to Shine Enterprise Project celebrates two years of helping young people gain skills for life.

Youngsters ran their own community coffee shop, created sensory gardens for sheltered housing residents and designed a Northumberland tourism flyer for passengers aboard a DFDS Seaways ferry, taking up the challenges set for them by project organisers.

Celebrating its second full year, the £275,000 Big Lottery funded Skills to Shine Enterprise Project works with youngsters aged 11-16 from south east Northumberland schools to give them the skills to prepare for life and work.

In total, nearly 250 young people have been helped during the first two years of the project, increasing their aspirations, motivation and employability skills and introducing them to various career options.

Fourteen children achieved ASDAN Level 2 Awards in Employability – a national curriculum body providing skills programmes and qualifications – over the past 12 months while three young people successfully gained volunteering short course awards.

Not-for-profit social enterprise Skills to Shine works with a host of local businesses and schools to give children the confidence and skills they need to help them achieve their employment goals.

Skills to Shine Managing Director Lindsey Dunn said: “The Enterprise Project has been a fantastic success again this year with so many young people involved learning about different careers and future options available to them.

“The support from business and industry has far exceeded our expectations and the diverse and varied business support we have had has really made the project a success.

“We couldn’t have produced such great projects without the commitment from business and the young people, so a huge thank you to them from everyone at Skills to Shine.”

Feedback from business supporters and schools alike proves how much participating in the enterprise project has meant to them.

“It was a pleasure to see the students grow in confidence and it was a delight to do something nice for the community,” said Michelle Barker, teacher at Northumberland Church of England Academy.

Landscape architect Tamsin Harrison of Heartland Design said: “Being involved in a real project allowed the kids to experience life in the workplace where pressures of time and budget affect the decision you are able to make and effective team working is essential.”

And Bedlington Station Primary School pupil Chloe Hurrell said: “I have improved on my communication and now feel more confident speaking in front of an audience. I have improved and have got more used to working in teams and pairs, and Skills to Shine giving us set times to complete things has made me improve on my time management skills.”

Highlights of this year’s world of work enterprise projects include:

  •       * An ice-cream project with the Northumberland Pupil Referral Unit setting up a mini ice-cream business
  •       * Three pop-up Christmas shop projects with Shanklea Primary School, Cramlington, and the James Knott and Josephine Butler Campuses at Northumberland Church of England Academy, Ashington. Young people set up their own mini-business selling Christmas gifts in Cramlington and Blyth shopping centres.
  •       * Northumberland Church of England Academy set up its own community café in Hirst Welfare Centre, Ashington, and Briardale Community Centre, Blyth. They invited elderly residents from the local community and Bernicia Group housing association, preparing menus and serving them food.
  •       * Young people from Ashington High and Bedlington Community High Schools turned landscape architects, designing sensory gardens for residents in sheltered housing at Willow Vale, Bedlington, and Alwinton Court, Blyth. They were supported by a range of businesses, including landscape architect Tamsin Harrison from Heartland Design

* Young people from Ashington High School produced a tourist flyer about sites to visit in south east Northumberland. The stunning flyer was handed out to passengers on a DFDS Seaways ferry.

  •       * Young people from Cramlington Learning Village are working on the well-known ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ slogan by reducing packaging for Sainsbury’s tea and producing a television advert on reusing packaging.
  •       * Year 6 children from Bedlington Station Primary School are working as CSI detectives and forensic scientists at a ‘crime scene’, supported by volunteers from Northumberland Church of England Academy and Northumbria University.