Project that helps thousands of vulnerable South Yorkshire youngsters faces uncertain future

Gail Gibbons.
Gail Gibbons.

The future of a trailblazing scheme that has helped thousands of vulnerable South Yorkshire youngsters to get into work or training is hanging in the balance.

Talent Match SCR works with people aged 18 to 25 who have all been jobless for more than 12 months, many of which have experienced learning disabilities, mental health problems, homelessness and single parenthood.

The scheme has placed 622 young adults into employment across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire and a further 1, 300 are currently being helped by moving into education, training and voluntary work.

The project is currently funded by the Big Lottery Fund but this is due to run out in December 2018 and it will face closure unless they can find alternative funding streams.

Leaders of the scheme, run by youth charity Sheffield Futures, are now calling for the authorities and the business community to back their fight for survival by offering funding and support.

Gail Gibbons, chief executive officer at Sheffield Futures, said: "The future of Talent Match is touch and go. Talent Match has changed lives in this region.

"Young people who believed they could never have a secure and happy future – because they thought they were unemployable – now have steady jobs and dreams they can reach for.

"We have to find a way to continue so we can help thousands more.”

As part of the programme, a team of 23 coaches help the youngsters with tailored training and continue to support them in the workplace for the first six months.

Jo Booth, Talent Match SCR programme manager, said: “Many come to us with their confidence at rock-bottom and problems they believe are insurmountable. Some are trying to find a place to sleep that night or the money to eat.

“Our motto is 'No One Is Left Behind'. We help young people to rebuild their lives by going back to the foundations to find out how to make their lives easier, then gently get them ready for the workplace."

To support the project contact talent.match@sheffieldfutures.org.uk