New £1.2m back-to-work programme gives young people a Head Start

Caption: Stephen Prince, 22, (front) at his new job alongside David Reed, compliance director of 4 Site Security Services.

A new £1.2m fund to get young unemployed people across Leeds back into work has officially launched this week.

The Head Start programme, designed to help long term unemployed aged 18-24 find jobs, will offer 800 people the chance of a supported work experience placement.

And the council has today issued a rallying cry to local businesses, calling on them to get involved and help the city’s young people get a fresh start.

Head Start comes after the Leeds City Region was awarded £4.6million from the government in 2013, with £1.2m going towards the initiative in Leeds.

The project will build on the success of the city’s other work experience programmes, which have included the Youth Contract initiative for young people aged 16-17 years old, not in education, training or employment and the council’s Work@Leeds scheme which offered placements within the local authority.

Stephen Prince, 22, from Bramley took part in Work@Leeds after being unemployed for around a year.

After getting involved with the programme, he gained employment with Leeds-based 4 Site Security, where he has been working for just over a month.

He said: “I was getting really demoralised, sending out applications and CVs and getting nowhere. It really knocked my confidence and I started to wonder if I was unemployable.

“Then I went to Work@Leeds and did a six week placement with the council’s communications team. They helped me build my CV up and being around the team really boosted my confidence.

“When it came to doing my interview, the experience I’d gained during my placement gave me that bit of something extra. I’m ecstatic to be back in work and there’s nothing like that pride, satisfaction and self-respect you get from having a job.

“To anyone who is thinking of getting involved with Head Start, I’d say give it your all, commit to it and a placement can change your life like it has mine.”

Businesses that take part in Head Start will receive £300 per placement as well as a full range of help and support.

Work experience candidates will get placements, generally up to six weeks long, with two weeks in college beforehand.

They will also get a CV workshop, help looking for work and a guaranteed interview.

The programme is available to those who have been claiming jobseekers allowance for six months or more.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for leisure and skills said:

“This exciting new scheme will give a huge boost to young people who are struggling to find work in an incredibly challenging job market.

“We know that there are a lot of enthusiastic and hungry young people out there who have been out of work for a long time- all they need is the right chance and they can be an asset to any company.

“By supporting local businesses and giving young people the right opportunities to get back into employment, we’re confident that Head Start can make a real difference.”

For more information about getting involved in Head Start, contact Michelle Law by email at michelle2.law@leeds.gov.uk or telephone 0113 3952905.


Stuart Robinson

Communications Officer

Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 224 3937

Email: stuart.robinson@leeds.gov.uk