'Boot camp' helps unemployed youngsters reverse their fortunes
PUBLISHED: 11:00 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:00 04 August 2019
A 12-week boot camp-style course has helped unemployed young people who are not in education or training change their fortunes.
Many of those who take on the Prince's Trust Team Programme, run by education charity Inspire Suffolk, have faced major life challenges such as mental ill health, low confidence and a lack of qualifications.
The course is designed to help the participants, aged between 16 and 25, tackle some of their worst fears head on - with a residential trip to an outdoor activity centre before working as a group on a project which makes a difference in their communities.
And those who graduated from the programmes run in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Thetford, Colchester, Sudbury and Felixstowe in July said it has changed their lives, with many securing jobs as a result.
One team member said: "Coming away on residential is something completely different to what I would normally do.
"I don't usually get out much and don't have many friends, so coming away has really helped me.
"At first, I found coming away really hard but I have been surprised by how much I love doing all of the activities and being outside."
The participants are challenged to step outside their comfort zones in the very first week by trying rock climbing and abseiling at an outdoor activity centre.
It is designed to teach them how to work with others and realise their own strengths within a team - skills which they very much need for their subsequent community project.
The latest cohort made a huge difference to their communities, with the Felixstowe group renovating the garden area of the Oaks Nursery and the Colchester team renovating communal gardens at The Hythe Community Centre.
A spokesman for The Hythe Community Centre said: "The young people have done amazing work in our community garden.
"The area, which was a run-down corner of the community centre is now bright and welcoming and can be enjoyed by all our residents and hirers.
"They worked professionally at all times and are a credit to your organisation."
A spokesman from Inspire Suffolk said: "Not only does the personal development programme prepare the young people for work in the future it also focuses on much needed skills that many young people don't have."
Inspire Suffolk's next group of Prince's Trust Team Programmes begin in September 2019 in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Thetford, Colchester, Haverhill and Leiston.
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