Llamau’s Flagship employability project Symud Ymlaen / Moving Forward (SY/MF) is celebrating its third anniversary in December of changing the lives of the most vulnerable young people in Wales.

Since the project’s inception in 2013, it has worked with care leavers and young people who have been involved with the criminal justice system to help them develop their employability skills. SY/MF offers young people a six-month paid work placement, and support and guidance to overcome their individual barriers to gaining skills and accessing employment.

It has seen the equivalent of over 18 years of work taking place, with over 100 young people continuing to work or continuing studying after their placement.

The project is led by Llamau and delivered with CBSA, Construction Youth Trust, GISDA and SOVA. It was recently awarded the Working in Partnership Award at Cymorth Cymru’s Promoting Independence Awards 2016, and was shortlisted for a UK-nationwide award at the Children and Young People’s Award in November.
The project has been funded by the Welsh Government’s Dormant Bank Accounts Scheme, which has been administered by the Big Lottery Fund in Wales.

The project will cease to receive funding in March 2017, and the race is on to find funding to continue the amazing work that the project has so far achieved.

Key Facts about SY/MF

  • 453 participants have undertaken paid work placements.
  • Participants in SY/MF have achieved 1,045 accreditations. These qualifications and certificates will help them achieve more in their chosen career.
  • Over the course of the SY/MF project, our young people who have taken part in the project have worked an incredible 160,108 hours between them. This is the equivalent of 18 years and three months of work!
  • 92% of project completers interviewed said they would recommend the project to a friend.

At a recent event for SY/MF at the Senedd, Julie Morgan AM commented, “In this time of continuing financial austerity, and the economic uncertainty caused by the Brexit process – the ability for organisations to partner together to be able to deliver projects with tangible benefits for the most vulnerable in our society is more important than ever, and the group of young people this project works with are at risk of sliding further back from opportunities without this project in place. The project has shown real impact in reducing re-offending rates and changing young people’s minds about their offending behaviour.”

Real Impact on Real Lives

Hannah came to SY/MF after receiving a community order as a result of engaging in criminal behaviour.

Shortly after starting, CBSA sought a work placement at a YMCA shop, working in-store and out on deliveries. At one of Llamau’s Learning 4 Life centres Hannah achieved Agored Cymru units in Health & Safety Awareness in the Workplace, Spreadsheets and Money Management. She improved her employability skills, producing a competent CV and attending a mock interview with positive feedback. Due to this positive engagement with SY/MF her community order has now been revoked.

Working with young people with serious disadvantages …

Key to the work of SY/MF is its ability to work with young people who are exhibiting challenging behaviours because of extreme, negative childhood experiences. The project has been able to engage with them to address these issues, and allow them to move past them to achieve their potential.

  • 52% of young people taking part in SY/MF had a history of violence or aggression.
  • 24% of young people had a history of self-harm or were at risk of suicide.
  •  49% of young people had issues with alcohol and/or substance misuse. 

… for sustainable, long-lasting changes.

Of overriding importance to the project is the sustainability of the work that has been achieved. It has had long lasting impacts by helping people live independently, make sensible financial choices and develop the way that they see themselves more positively.

  • 75% of young people are no longer putting themselves in situations that could lead to offending.
  • 67% of young people with drug or alcohol issues have reduced their usage.
  • 73% of young people who completed SY/MF improved their money management skills. 

Robbie’s story

Robbie was referred to the SY/MF team when he was released from prison. Having served time for his offences, he wanted to get back on the right track and was keen to join the project.

Having been made to leave formal education due to his behaviour, the SY/MF team were expecting a challenging time with Robbie. However, he worked incredibly hard and attended all the training sessions, and proved in a very short space of time that he was ready and was prepared to work.

Robbie wanted to work in a garage, so we found him a paid placement in a small garage. The employer was extremely supportive of the SY/MF project, and the garage became a positive and encouraging environment for Robbie, away from the environment that had encouraged him to offend.

After the time with the placement ended, Robbie couldn’t stay on at the garage because there wasn’t enough money to employ him, despite the good feedback and progress he had made there.

The SY/MF workers rallied around Robbie, helping him with his job search, working with him to update his CV, teaching him about the hidden job market and sending letters to potential employers.

Robbie was able to secure a full time job in a garage and is now planning on becoming a fully qualified mechanic. This is a huge leap forward for a young man who saw no future for himself when he was first referred to the project from prison. He told us, “My life has turned around for the better thanks to the SY/MF team.”