Blue Watch Youth Centre is a registered charity formed in the 1990s in Ryhope, Sunderland by a group of local people responding to a request from young people who wanted things to do and somewhere safe to go.
Open seven days a week, the centre provides a range of youth work activities including regular drop-in sessions for local young people.
In 2016 Blue Watch Youth Centre received funding from the Virgin Money Foundation to run a new programme, ‘Steps to Success’. Based on feedback from local employers, the programme provides support for young people who want to move into employment by preparing them for the world of work. In 2016 they worked with 31 young people, 20 of them going on to gain sustainable employment.
This year the Foundation awarded a second grant to enable the Steps to Success programme to extend its reach to more unemployed young people. Three months into the grant, Blue Watch Youth Centre has already built trusting relationships with 17 young people including Sean and Daniel*.
16 year old Sean was referred to Blue Watch Youth Centre by the Youth Offending Team. He has been supported through employability skills training, passing the CSCS Health & Safety test which he had previously failed. He has since been offered employment labouring with a local building company. Blue Watch Youth Centre will keep in touch with Sean over the next six months and offer support if required.
After being identified on a NEET (not in education, employment or training) list from Sunderland Connexions Service, 19 year old Daniel joined the Steps to Success project in 2016. He has been supported with employability skills, confidence and communication skills development and has participated in work experience placements. After carrying out a three week placement with a local employer, Daniel was successful in securing employment as a customer service advisor.
*Names have been changed to protect the individual concerned.