Charity warning for Birmingham’s young people

2021 will be “extremely tough”.

As the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic becomes ever-clearer, youth sport charity Street League, is preparing for the challenges that lay ahead in 2021 and anticipates an increase in demand for its services in Birmingham.

With support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery – who have raised £3.5 million for the charity to date – Street League helps unemployed 16 to 30-year-olds to move into employment using the power of sport. Their award-winning programmes use football, dance and other sports to engage young people and teach them key life and work skills.

Throughout the pandemic Street League has been working hard to ensure young people in Birmingham, where around 1 in 5 are unemployed, don’t get left behind. In-person classes moved online, with iPads and data bundles provided to ensure everyone could participate, regardless of their circumstances.

Between April and October this year:
– 65 young people started at Street League’s Birmingham academy
– 34 young people have moved into an outcome during that time (seventeen into employment, thirteen into education and four into training).

The charity is realistic about the difficulties that lay ahead for young people and expects to receive many more referrals for its tailored employability support.

Marie McCarren, Street League’s Operations Manager, said: “We’re beginning to see the impact of the pandemic in Birmingham. Retail and hospitality have been hard hit with shops and venues closing, while companies are making people redundant or freezing recruitment.”

“Without a doubt, younger job-seekers are disproportionately affected. The retail and leisure industries had previously been a good source of varied and flexible roles for young people, but these jobs are disappearing before their eyes.”

“Many, especially those without a strong support network or who are dealing with other challenges, will need much more help if they are to compete in the increasingly competitive jobs market.”

Helene is receiving support from Street League. On finishing university, she embarked on a plan to launch her own business, creating educational toys to teach children about different cultures and disabilities.

COVID-19 affected Helene’s immediate plans so she is looking for a job to provide her with a steady income while she continues to develop her business. “I remembered Street League from when I was in college and used to do dance classes with them. They helped me in the past with my CV but this time I needed help with my job search. Finding a job is so hard. You are fighting with people with years of experience, so you take classes online and gain new skills only for the job to not be available because the company is no longer running.”

While Helene is making progress, she admits it can be difficult to stay motivated. She said: “This year has been a lot. Sometimes I just embrace the lack of motivation and let my mind relax for a while. Looking after my niece reminds me why I am doing what I am doing and then I go back to my business plan and focus on my goals.”

Marie McCarren understands the importance of setting goals and remaining hopeful. She said: “More than half the young people we have worked with this year have got a job or moved into education and training which is really positive, especially given the additional challenges we have all faced this year. Their determination is a big part of that.

“We are expecting demand for what we do to grow in 2021 and I would encourage anyone who is worried about their future job prospects to get in touch with us.”