Earlier this year Cumbria County Council provided funding for Dragon’s Apprentice Programme. Whilst other iterations of the popular TV programmes can be found widely in schools and education, this one is unique as it is aimed at 18 – 24-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training, and face multiple barriers to employment.
Young people were recruited at Eden Youth Hub, a partnership with DWP, Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council and Inspira. Eden Youth Worker, Kimberley Hall, regularly meets with young people; many of whom have been disproportionally affected by the COVID pandemic.
“Some of these young people have been isolated for over two years. This may be because of their rurality and/or their own mental health but either way, trying to move into employment or training when they have lost confidence in their abilities has been difficult. The Dragon’s Apprentice programme enabled them to come together in teams to support local charities whilst gaining essential employability skills.”
- Kimberley Hall, Eden Youth Worker, Inspira.
For the challenge two teams were formed and given £100; their challenge was to turn that into even more funds for their chosen charity. They had 10 weeks to choose a charity, organise their team and try to make as much money as possible for their charity. At the end of the 10 weeks the teams would be invited to meet ‘The Super Dragons’ – Councillor Phil Dew – Chair of Cumbria County Council`s Local Committee for Eden, David Allen – CEO of Cumbria CVS and Rebecca Wolstenholme. - CEO of Cumbria Youth Alliance. This panel would look at their business plan, listen to the teams present their ideas and outcomes, and provide some advice for the teams moving forward.
On the day, you could feel the nerves at Eden Rural Foyer. Many of the young people had never made a presentation before and were outwardly anxious. Nevertheless, both teams courageously managed to stand up in front of the high profile, local business and local authority figures ,and present their learning from the programme.
First up was Team JK Slam and their chosen charity was Mind. The team had decided to raise funds by designing and making a range of jewellery, small ornate boxes and greetings cards along with painted stone with inspirational messages. These beautiful items were sold at craft fairs and to family and friends. Matty, Jacob and Abbie did a great job on the day, even making some sales after their presentation.
Next up, Team Badges4Eden, whose chosen charity was 4Eden. They had invested their initial stake to purchase a badge making machine. They had then produced badges and sold these at a profit. They had unique designs made by Kendra, and Richard had been out taking photographs of local vistas to include on badges. Ben oversaw marketing – getting the product to local outlets to be able to sell them.
Both teams reflected on what they had learnt. Everybody felt that the teamwork was essential, as was assigning tasks according to each team member’s skillsets. Communication was another key skill that everybody felt they had improved during the project. Overwhelmingly, participants felt they had gained confidence, none of them had felt confident before they stood up for the presentation – but everybody was able to talk knowledgably about their team and their project and felt good, with a real sense of achievement once they had delivered their presentation.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to be one of three 'Dragons' in the Den at Eden Rural Foyer last week, meeting young people experiencing multiple challenges and learning about their experience of developing and delivering a business idea! It’s a great project and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop further across Cumbria".
- David Allen, CEO, Cumbria CVS.
“I was really pleased to contribute to this project in Eden. The young people`s progression from the initial panel earlier this year to the delivery of their business ideas at the event was brilliant to see. It was especially pleasing to see how they had all grown in confidence, a great outcome.”
- Cllr Phil Dew Chair of CCC`s Local Committee for Eden.