Charities unite to create job opportunities

New prospects for young Birmingham jobseekers.

Shocking statistics have emerged showing that unemployment amongst young people in Birmingham is twice as high as the national average, stating that around one in five millennials in the city is currently out of work. Determined to show these stats the door, Aquarius and Birmingham Museums Trust have joined forces to roll out new roles for 18-24-year-olds facing barriers to employment.

Designed to provide young people with opportunities to get onto the career ladder, the partnership between them will see the creation of two follow-on work schemes at Blakesley Hall’s Herb Garden Café. These will be for those progressing on from Aquarius’s social enterprise café, Evolve, which currently provides 12-month apprenticeship placements at its sites in Digbeth and Selly Oak.

The initial partner-placement will take place from now until April 2020 and will see the new recruits undertake food preparation, making and serving hot drinks, opening the café and cashing up, all while completing further training to add to their qualifications.

The first two candidates to enrol on the new programme are Casey Caffrey and Shonah Wootton. Both are looking forward to the opportunity to move on to the next phase of their careers, with Casey saying: “I’m so excited about starting with Birmingham Museums Trust and joining the Herb Garden Café team. I’m really looking forward to embracing the new challenges and expanding my portfolio of hospitality experience.”

Having worked at Evolve at The Adam and Eve since 2017, Shonah will progress onto the next stage of her career at Blakesley Hall in Yardley.

Commenting on her new role, Shonah said: “Before starting my placement, I had been unemployed for two years; Evolve was the first place to take a chance on me and it is no understatement to say that it has been a lifesaver. It has never been just a job to me: it was a reason to get up each day and showed me that I could achieve so much more than I’d ever thought I was capable of.

“I am so grateful to the Evolve team and I cannot wait to begin this new chapter at the beautiful Blakesley Hall.”

Having seen first-hand the impact that employment has had for young people, Ben Howells, regional manager for Aquarius, is optimistic about how positive the new scheme will be. He added: “At Aquarius, we are tremendously proud to see the progress of the young people on our work placements at Evolve.

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve helped over 20 young people onto the career ladder in a way that pushes them to fulfil their potential but equally allows them the flexibility and support to adjust to transition into working life. It’s through this dedicated and nurturing approach that has seen people like Casey and Shonah succeed, and we look forward to continuing to be part of their journeys in this way.”

As well as their daily commitments, Shonah and Casey will also be part of launching the Chatty Café scheme at the BMT site. Introducing ‘Chatter & Natter’ tables, where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to others, the Herb Garden Café hopes to become a space that the Yardley community feels part of.

Speaking about the changes at Herb Garden Café, Birmingham Museums Trust’s Commercial Director Alex Nicholson-Evans commented: “This marks a new chapter for Blakesley Hall and we hope that our neighbours and friends are as excited about this new initiative as we are. Birmingham Museums Trust is thrilled to be working with Aquarius and we hope this will be the start of a very special, long-term partnership.

“Blakesley Hall is a stunning historic property and an important space for the local community. With extended opening hours this Winter and our participation in the Chatty Cafe scheme we hope Herb Garden Cafe will become a place local people can use, enjoy, and feel at home in!”

The first of the Aquarius and Birmingham Museums Trust’s placements will run until Spring 2020 and the collaborators aim to help two young people in 2020. What’s more, both have expressed their ambition for the scheme to run each year. To find out more about Aquarius and Evolve, visit and to keep up with all the news from Birmingham Museums Trust, head to