Every child should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential at school and beyond. Since 2015, Hastings Direct has been a sponsor of the innovative Be the Change programme, raising aspirations among future generations and helping them remove barriers holding them back, in and outside of the classroom.
The initiative is aimed at students aged 12, 13 and 14 (Years 8 and 9) who, for one reason or another, have become disengaged at school or have lost confidence in their abilities. They may find academic work challenging but demonstrate huge potential when they take part in activities that inspire and invigorate them.
Ed Brazier, Pastoral Manager, Bexhill Academy, said; "Over the course of Be the Change you can clearly see the impact it has had on many of our students. The increase in confidence and the way they interact with each other will certainly hold them in good stead for the rest of their lives."
The programme focuses on five key areas: confidence, hope, relationships, employability and happiness. Through a combination of one-to-one meetings, conferences, workshops and workplace visits, pupils are encouraged to identify personal hurdles to success, before they're offered guidance and support to overcome them.
Across the academic year, over 60 Hastings Direct colleagues become Business Volunteers and support local students through the Be the Change programme in the Bexhill and Leicester area.
Through workshops and 1:1 sessions, the discussions are often thought-provoking and, at times, emotional and are centred on ways pupils can overcome obstacles, and encourage the development of key skills that will benefit them in working life.
Our volunteers act as mentors, drawing on anecdotal evidence and personal experiences to engage the students. The aim is to help them understand what positive changes are required to help them realise their aspirations, and understand the qualities and skills needed to succeed in today's workplace.
Recently, 120 Year 9 students from Bexhill Academy graduated from the Be the Change programme, sponsored by Hastings Direct in partnership with LoveLocalJobs.com.
All students received certificates and Be the Change ribbons, with many bravely standing up in front of an audience to talk about the skills they gained through the programme and their feelings on moving forward.
2017/18 programme saw the Be the Change programme focus on working with one school in Leicester – Welland Park Academy. 114 students graduated from the course, supported by 27 volunteering business mentors from Hastings Direct
Mr Collins, teacher at Welland Park Academy said: "I think if I could sum up Be the Change in one word it would be powerful. Pupils are encouraged to reflect in ways they didn't think were possible, ways I didn't even think were possible. To see the change in some students even after the first session is incredible."
Graham Moore, co-founder of Be the Change, said: "It has been a real privilege to work with Bexhill Academy and Welland Park Academy. The students have been great ambassadors for the young people in the area. They have also been professionally supported by the caring and committed business volunteers from Hastings Direct who truly wish to make a difference to the lives and aspirations of the young students."
Ultimately, every child is unique in the way they learn, in the goals they have, and in what inspires and motivates them to reach those goals. Be the Change acknowledges this, working personally with every student to instill confidence, raise aspirations and develop skills to help them become the future leaders of the workplace.