The latest group of young Londoners to benefit from a pioneering programme called Street Elite will graduate this month at three sports festivals taking place in Lambeth, Southwark and Tower Hamlets. London rapper Nadia Rose, who starred at Glastonbury in 2017, will attend today's festival and congratulate them.
Now in its seventh year, Street Elite uses sport and mentoring to help young adults find their voice and find their feet in the employment market. This year's programme has had a strong focus on supporting young women. Research by the University of Bath and the Young Women's Trust shows there are significantly more young women who are not in education, employment or training in the UK than men (432,000 vs. 376,000). Strikingly, 66% of these women are economically inactive, mostly due to caring duties, family expectations or illness. In London, the problem is particularly acute with 9.5% of all young women between the ages of 16 and 24 regarded as not in education employment or training.
One of this year's Street Elite graduates, Joscelyn, has been out of work and had to deal with homelessness and mental health issues. But through Street Elite, she has rediscovered her confidence and now wants to gain a trade in plumbing and move into full time work with the Berkeley Group.
Speaking at today's Street Elite festival in Lambeth, Nadia Rose praised the programme for the impact it is having on young women in London:
"The Street Elite festival was brilliant. To see so many young people engaged in so many different sports was really inspiring. I wish I'd known about this when I was in school. It's great to know that young women are inspired by me and can find confidence and be themselves. I'm just doing me and I can see they are just doing them. I can relate with them and it's amazing to be a part of it.
"The programme itself is incredible. I know a lot of people who are struggling to find work in London at the moment and as a woman I know it's especially difficult. There are a lot of male-dominated roles out there and there are extra social struggles for women before they can even look for work so support like this is very important."
Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, Deputy Leader of Lambeth Council, said:
"Street Elite is a fantastic initiative, tackling a real issue and delivering positive results. Young women face so many challenges in getting into work or training and we need to help those most vulnerable, give them the confidence and the skills to find a career path and excel. I'm delighted to support this event, and it's great to see so many positive stories. These young people can be an inspiration to others."
Sally Dickinson, Head of the Berkeley Foundation, said:
"It is shocking that there are still nearly half a million young adults in the UK who are unemployed or not looking for work. Young women are more likely to find themselves out of work or in very low paid jobs than young men, even though on average they do better in school. This has a massive impact on young women's lives - and could cost the economy £28 billion over the next ten years.
"Street Elite is breaking down the barriers to the world of work faced by many of these young women. It's a model that really works. More than 70% of participants move on to education, employment or training, and many of the young people graduating this month already have exciting plans. There is a lot still to do, however, and we are calling on employers to do more to open up job opportunities to young people facing barriers to work."
This summer's Street Elite festivals follow the launch in April of a guide produced by a coalition of leading businesses aimed at helping major employers bring talented, marginalised young people into full-time work. The guide draws on the experience of companies such as M&S, BAE Systems, and the Berkeley Group, as well as the Movement to Work, a collaboration of leading UK employers providing work placements for young people struggling to get their first step on the career ladder.