For the third year, Catalyst has partnered with the EY Foundation to run the ‘Our Future’ programme for 12 young people.

This year, Catalyst welcomed young people from Luton in Bedfordshire, and delivered a varied skills and employability programme ‘virtually’ between October and April, with an online celebration event for students and colleagues to mark the end of the programme.

Over the six months, the young people received five days of paid employability skills training, six days of paid business experience, an accredited wellbeing qualification through the Royal Society of Public Health, and an insight into careers in the housing sector.

Each young person was matched with a fully trained business mentor from the Catalyst team who worked with them to develop a plan for their academic, career and personal development, and will remain available to support them after the programme.

Catalyst encourages participants to keep in touch and apply for apprenticeships, roles and opportunities. From the previous two programmes, we’ve been able to offer students paid roles in Catalyst’s community youth work team, on our apprenticeship scheme and temporary work on business projects during their university holidays.

Sahil Khan, Catalyst’s Director of Community Investment, told us:

‘It’s been another amazing Our Future programme and we’re so pleased that we could offer this opportunity to young people again – albeit online this year. The tenacity, creativity, adaptability and passion of this year’s cohort really stood out for me, and I’m immensely proud of their efforts and commitment to getting the most out of the programme. It’s great seeing each young person grow and flourish through the challenges the programme sets them, and we hope we’ve inspired them to consider a career with Catalyst or in the housing sector.

‘Catalyst is committed to investing in our young residents, which is now more important than ever with the pandemic having brought huge changes to their lives, education and next steps at such a formative time. We wish the twelve participants from this year’s programme all the best for a happy and fulfilled future.’

Lynne Peabody, EY Foundation’s Acting CEO, said:

‘Catalyst continues to show an impressive passion and commitment to supporting young people. This has been clear throughout the Our Future programme, despite the challenges of Covid-19 and lockdown.

‘Working together we adapted to uncertain circumstances, implementing a new virtual delivery model which ensured the young people developed their skills, confidence and knowledge of careers. On behalf of all of the young people we would like to thank the amazing Catalyst volunteers for their unwavering support over the last year!’

One of the programme participants, Hunsa Ahmed, told us:

‘I had the opportunity to take part in this programme where I met and built relationships with wonderful people. I left the programme with various new skills such as time management, presentation skills, how to work within a team and overall it has had a massive impact on my confidence. Being a part of a work environment and having certain roles to carry out as an individual within a team was really enjoyable. This programme has definitely shaped me for the better in terms of how I will move forward into new work settings in the future. It was an experience I won’t forget.’