Updated: Jan 13
One of our most memorable stories of 2019 has got to be that of Kieran, an 19 year old from Little Hulton in Salford.
But rather than us telling you about him...here is Kieran's story in his own words. We are beyond proud of the journey Kieran has made in the past six months, and can't wait to see what 2020 and beyond has in hold for him.
His story is just one example of some of the impact we have made this year, with support from funders like the National Lottery.
"My experience with PIE and Sale Sharks Advantage course has been a rollercoaster of a journey.
5 – 6 months ago I was very shy and confused. I was taking part in the Sharks Advantage course which is for young people aged 16-19 who are not in education, employment or training. It was going well, and I enjoyed having something to do every day and focus on.
However, I didn’t like the thought of being 18 and still having no idea of where my life was going. I had always had an overriding thought that I needed my Maths and English to a certain level which would provide me with skills which I thought would gain me a chance of a better life, to be able to earn money and to be happy in a career choice I’ve made for myself. I thought that without these my chances of doing a job I loved were pretty much zero. But I had no idea of what I wanted to do or what my next steps were into that life after the Sharks Advantage course ended.
Luckily, I met Beth Nunn from PIE: Pursuing Individual Excellence who was running a three-day programme as part of our course. She had got the funding to run this programme from the National Lottery Community Fund which meant that we had the opportunity to do lots of activities at no cost to us or Sale Sharks. This included giving us multiple group building tasks to do as a team and helped us gain teamwork and building skills. Developing all of these skills has helped me so much. We completed the iDEA digital qualification, took part in challenges, and even went on a day trip into Manchester to visit the People’s History Museum, go for a meal at a fancy restaurant in Spinningfields (where I got to try steak for the first time) and had a tour of offices at Federation House. On one of our days with Beth, we were fortunate to be taken on a tour of The Sharp Project; I thought It was going to be rubbish and almost didn’t come. But Beth convinced me to come and I am so glad that I didn't walk away that day. I didn’t know what The Sharp Project was and what people do there, and especially didn’t understand the opportunities within the building for young people like me.
We started the tour of the building and within couple of minutes, my eyes were opened up to a new life and a new way to work; my level of ambition towards working here and gaining some sort of foot in the door quickly showed. Beth told me to use my initiative and demonstrate how interested I was, so I asked every question I could and begged for some sort of chance to be able to work here. But I thought I lived too far away, and that they won’t want someone from my area or with my qualifications. I’ve not got the A Levels and university degrees that most people have, but I had a goal and an ambition and I believed I could grow as a person at SharpFutures.
To my surprise after leaving that afternoon, and speaking to Beth the next day, I was offered a week’s work experience helped also by Amy and Lydia from SharpFutures Discover. To this day I’m so thankful for that week’s experience, as I had loads of opportunities thrown my way with OURPASS and being about to go on my first ever video shoot. The OURPASS was a new free bus pass launching for young people in Manchester, and being able to help promote it and speak my thoughts on it and having the feeling of I’ve done something good for my community. Also to go around to different investors meetings speaking in front of crowds with Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, multiple times which also helped me grow as a person. The opportunities I gained in that week were things I had never thought I could do, and I can’t tell you how much they helped me develop my confidence and public speaking skills - before PIE or SharpFutures POD I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing anything like that. Now I was speaking to the Mayor of Greater Manchester on a stage in front of hundreds of people!
From then, members from SharpFutures saw how much I loved working here and how much it means to me and asked would I like to join POD. POD (People on Demand) is like freelance work but gaining more experience within the digital /social market which you won’t find in many places. I firstly started my POD work being booked in to help deliver the school tours (just like the one I had been on), and from there I started getting to know people and gained friendships and supports through almost everyone I met. This made me feel welcome and enthusiastic about working hard and the opportunities that could be available to me. I really wanted to be given a chance to be an apprentice for SharpFutures and to be part of the team, and Beth, Amy and Lydia helped me to make sure that I could achieve this. I’ve gone from all these previous issues with confidence and not knowing what I’m going to do with my life, to now feeling like that I know who I am, what I want to do, and what I need to do first to get there.
Fortunately, I was offered the chance to be interviewed for an apprentice runner role for SharpFutures which I was successful at and officially started as an apprentice here in September 2019. That was less than four months since I first walked through the doors of the Sharp Project. I am now helping out run MCRGreater Events website and also the social media accounts, and I can not believe how much my life has changed.
I just want to say thank you Beth (PIE) and Amy and Lydia (SharpFutures) and Rob (Sale Sharks). If It wasn’t for you guys I wouldn’t have ever found myself and be in a place where I belong. I never once thought I would be given such an amazing opportunity and for that I’ll always be thankful for everything.
Here’s to believing in yourself and to a great 2020. I know the future can be brighter than I ever realised and want to encourage others to go and believe in themselves too. 😊"