In tough times SVP is creating opportunities for young people through government Kickstart scheme

The government’s Kickstart scheme is proving to be a popular way for young people to gain experience in the world of work, but the SVP has taken the initiative to another level.

Kickstart is a six-month work placement for young people claiming Universal Credit, during which time they learn essential workplace skills and gain the knowledge to progress their careers. The Kickstart scheme also mandates that participants are paid at least the minimum wage.

The SVP initially applied for 37 Kickstart placements across most of its operations, including central, retail and community centre functions. However, the Society is offering its Kickstarters far more opportunity and remuneration for their hard work. The SVP is a Living Wage employer, so Kickstarters are paid £9.50 per hour instead of the minimum wage, which is currently between £6.56 and £8.91, depending on age.

Kickstarters at the SVP also have access to a comprehensive training programme, including excellent online training, which includes data protection and safeguarding, and a local induction. There is also training in ‘soft skills’, such as organisation, customer service, retail, and communication.

Additionally, the SVP provides training in job searching, CV writing, applying for jobs, interview skills, career development and planning.

Charlotte Fry, HR & Payroll Manager, says: “The Kickstart roles do not replace other roles within the Society, and they are not a quick fix if we need more help in certain areas. The main factor in the Board getting involved in the Kickstart scheme is to help and develop young people, and possibly retain the best of them in roles within the SVP family.”

At the end of the six-month placement, our Kickstarters will have all tools required to continue their careers, but we have found they gain far more than that. Many have told us that their time with us has improved their mental health and their confidence.Charlotte Fry, Payroll Manager

“We have also found that in the initial period of a placement, some would be anxious, but because we have been flexible and allow them to work at

The scheme is working well in St Vincent’s shops and other areas of the Society, and the plan is to apply for a further 20 Kickstart positions.

“We have also found that in the initial period of a placement, some would be anxious, but because we have been flexible and allow them to work at their own pace they have come around, and they flourish, displaying creativity and talent. This isn’t part of the scheme, but it’s the SVP way which is giving these young individuals the confidence to succeed.”

Jackie McIlwaine, 18, St Vincent’s Moortown shop, Leeds (pictured)

Retail assistant

“I studied at college for Level 3 personal training, but now I have started my Kickstart placement at the SVP in Leeds. The people here are lovely. My manager, Denise, is the nicest person I have ever met – she’s like family now.

“There is so much more to the job that you expect. I’m learning new things all the time, like just how much work goes into running a successful charity shop.

“Since I have been here, I have loved doing the window displays. I get so excited to colour-coordinate them.”