Young people land jobs while staying at Barking Foyer

Young people are celebrating after a record number succeeded in securing jobs while staying at an integrated learning and accommodation centre in Barking.

Here, the Post looks at the successes of youngsters battling to fulfil their potential with the help of dedicated support workers.

The Barking Foyer in Wakering Road has provided accommodation and training opportunities for around 100 people since it opened in 2009.

Almost a quarter are currently holding down jobs as estate agents, teaching assistants, in retail while one works as a sports instructor and another for Virgin Trains.

Four have secured places at university, two have applied to join the police and another is pursuing an apprenticeship with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant venture.

Just eight residents aged 18 to 25 who left the foyer obtained employment last year.

Foyer manager Catherine Parsons hailed the integrated mix of mentoring and job training at the centre, after figures showed around 60 of the youngsters were now either in training or in employment.

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She said: “The residents at Barking Foyer are keen to find work and have taken full advantage of the employment support on offer to them.

“We’re already seeing some great results. We also work really closely with local businesses and our working assets’ project, run in partnership with the Foyer Federation, is a great example of this.

“Ford, one the biggest employers in the area, is giving residents an insight in the world of engineering and encouraging them to see engineering as a potential career path.”

The foyer seeks to boost employment and training opportunities by giving the young people an initial, six-week assessment helping them to identify their strengths.

They are also given a key worker, monthly targets and join the foyer’s weekly job club which refers them to agencies, colleges, universities and training programmes.

Barking Foyer ran an interview skill workshop with Lloyds TSB in June and has another one scheduled with Ford this month.

Staff also work with support organisations like Progress to Success and the social enterprise Future M.O.L.D.S Communities in Barking to help young people set up their own business.

A foyer spokesman said: “We start off by giving them a six-week assessment, by doing this we get a good idea of what they are capable of and how we can improve their life skills.

“It’s extremely important that we set up a plan of action to really help them hit significant targets.

“Every month their key worker will work with them to help them meet these targets and fulfil their potential.”

Resident Vivian John has secured a permanent position at a sports club following support from the foyer’s Workwise job club.

Vivian, 23, said: “Without the help that I received and continue to receive from my support worker at the foyer and from Workwise job club, I wouldn’t have started work.

“The one-to-one advice and guidance, help applying for jobs and preparation for interviews gave me confidence in my abilities and helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, without it I would not be in full-time employment now.”

Margaret Hodge, the MP for Barking, met residents enrolled onto the foyer’s breakfast club on September 19.

She said: “I was delighted to meet the residents of Barking Foyer and hear about their aims and ambitions for the future.

“It’s fantastic to see the range of employment support available, not only to those living at the foyer, but to young people across the borough.”