In 2020 the government launched their Kickstart scheme, providing funding to organisations to help create jobs for 16 – 24 years olds

From this funding we developed our community connector programme offering groups of young people within our communities, six-month work placements to help them develop their career prospects.

Nicole, one was of our first community connectors. Since finishing her work placement with us she has secured herself a permanent position as a communities assistant within our Communities team. We found out more from Nicole about her experience as a community connector and why she was keen to continue working within our Communities team.

Hi Nicole, tell us a little about yourself

NP: I’m in my early twenties, living in social housing in Hertfordshire. I currently work for Catalyst as a communities assistant but I started my time with Catalyst on a six-month work placement as a community connector.

How did you find out about the Community Connectors programme and what made you apply?

NP: I found out about the community connector programme through my local job centre after moving back to my hometown following university.

I wanted a position that was customer focused and that could make a difference to people’s lives. The community connector role fitted what I was looking for perfectly, allowing me the opportunity to get out in communities and build connections with customers and local people.

Why did you decide to apply to become a community connector?

NP: Before the community connector programme, I was uncertain about my career path. I’d finished studying philosophy at university and was now struggling to break into a career.

Being a social housing resident, it felt important for me to start developing my career as soon as possible to allow me to meet my responsibilities. This programme helped me feel I was heading in the right direction.

How has being a community connector benefited you?

NP: The community connector programme has been invaluable to me. The six-month placement dramatically increased my self-confidence and developed me professionally.

During my placement I created my own project from start to finish, starting with researching my ideas and turning those ideas into a deliverable project. Not only has this given me project management experience it has also been very rewarding knowing that the project I worked on has made a positive impact to the local area.

I am proud of all the projects I ran and the positive outcomes for the local community and I’m also proud of the relationships I’ve built with external partners, particularly social housing charity HACT and national campaign Backyard Nature.'

What’s your outlook for the future now?

NP: I’ve now completed the community connector programme. I was lucky enough that a permanent position within the Communities team was available at the end of my placement, which I applied for and was successful in achieving.

Since I started working at Catalyst I have become more confident and career focused and I now look forward to work and seeing what each new day. I know that the connectors programme has helped me achieve this new self-belief and positive attitude.

Is there an achievement or activity you’ve undertaken that you’re most proud of?

NP: I am proud of all the projects I ran and the positive outcomes for the local community and I’m also proud of the relationships I’ve built with external partners, particularly social housing charity HACT and national campaign Backyard Nature.

It was an honour to be elected to speak at the Housing Associations’ Youth Network climate change webinar, sharing how my project aligned with the green agenda, developed sustainability awareness and supported young people to get back out into nature.

Would you recommend getting involved in schemes like the community connector programme?

NP: Yes definitely, it’s a great way to learn more about the housing sector and gain experience, which can be difficult when you’re young. I feel much more secure in my prospects with this experience behind me and am now well on my way to building a successful career.

I’d also like to thank everyone who made the community connector programme possible and for their support throughout the programme. I wish all future community connectors the very best in their role, I know they will enjoy it!

If you’d like to find out more about what’s next for our community connector programme and similar projects and opportunities, please visit our supporting communities page.