Growing up with considerable problems in the household, 17-year-old Chris Storer had a chaotic childhood and spent his early teens skipping school and hanging out on the streets of Cardiff until he was placed in local authority care. With nothing to do and no hopes, drive, dreams or aspirations for the future – he was fast heading down a slippery slope to nowhere.
Turn the clock forward ten months and Chris now tells a completely different story. The young care leaver is in fulltime employment, has money in his pocket, is brimming with confidence and is looking forward to his future with a great deal of optimism. He is a glowing example of the type of person who could benefit from the new £3.4 million Getting Ahead programme which launches today:
My life was boring until I got involved with this scheme. I was just out on the streets, hanging around, doing nothing and I had a lot of problems at home. I didn’t have anything to do. I tried to find a job but I couldn’t get anything. I never got my head down in school either and I always used to get distracted. I can’t sit down to write and read – all that’s just boring to me. I prefer using my hands and learning through looking at other people first and doing it that way. I was referred to Llamau by a Social Worker from Children’s Services in August last year. I then took part in a work experience scheme but was keen to gain paid employment on a permanent basis. I started going back to school to show that I was making an effort to change and trying to make something out of my life. My social worker then put me in touch with the project and it all started from there really.
Through the scheme, I was offered a placement opportunity with AE Insulation Ltd in Cardiff which provides and installs insulation for residential industrial and commercial properties. After just a few weeks of work, I was taken on in a paid capacity. I’m really enjoying it and I can’t wait to be fully qualified. I have now been employed by AE Insulation for over ten months and I have also gained new skills and on the job qualifications. I’ve done computer courses and I’ve had work experience at places. I would never have bothered with something like that before if I’m being honest. I’ve also done loads of courses with work.
They gave me more confidence as well when it came to meeting new people. I was a bit shy and quiet when it came to meeting new people before. There were so many different people coming in and out if the project, I eventually just got to know them and build up my confidence.
Without this support I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have a job and I would probably be doing nothing or on the dole or something. It’s a lot easier with support. If there was something I didn’t understand, the support worker at the project would explain it to me and also encourage me and push me towards getting a job. When I was on my own, I was ringing loads of different people and they would take my details and I’d never hear from them again. This project took me to that next step of actually getting a job.
I’m definitely willing to give things a go now whereas before, if it didn’t sound good, I didn’t want to know. It’s a good thing that I’ve changed. My life’s a lot more exciting; I’ve got a lot more money to do things and not as much free time- so I really enjoy my weekends even more when they come round now.
My message to others in a similar situation is just go for it. Get working and get some business going.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris is among the hundreds of young people from Cardiff and the South Wales Valleys who have benefited from the Learning 4 Life Scheme run by homeless charity Llamau. Part funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the scheme aims to provide young care leavers with tailored support and guidance to help them into work and enable them to live independent lives.
He is an example of a potential beneficiary of the Getting Ahead programme which aims to engage, prepare and motivate care leavers and young offenders between the ages of 16 and 18 who are not in education, employment or training into undertaking a six month paid supported work placement. The aim is to enhance their chances of progressing into sustainable employment or further learning or training by increasing their employability skills.