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I am only too aware from my experience with young people at The Prince's Trust that building confidence and self-esteem is key.  Without this magic ingredient it is virtually impossible to progress into employment - or survive once you are in it.  Social enterprises, like Aspire…. which are competitive businesses employing only disadvantaged people, including homeless people, are one way to create that sense of self-worth and instil confidence in a more secure working environment.

HRH - Prince Charles 2002.

1.   One of our teenage employees had been expelled from a series of schools and had been in prison for stealing cars. He was desperate to get some foundation to his life because his girlfriend was pregnant and his ambition was to work in warehousing, but no agency would take him on because of his criminal record. Aspire successfully trained him in warehousing to NVQ Level 2 and we were able to give him a testimonial as to his trustworthiness and his cheerful co-operative manner, leading to his being offered a job in a local bakery. At the time he left Aspire he had a very different attitude to when we first met him, and he was convinced that he could stay away from trouble.

2.  Our very first employee was aged 24 and had dropped out of school at the age of 12. After a series of spells of foster care he transferred to hostel living, but was turned out of all the places he stayed because of aggressive behaviour and damage to his rooms, picking up along the way a conviction for criminal damage. Within three months of joining Aspire he had the credibility he needed to obtain his own council flat and had enrolled on an IT course. At the time he left us he had decided to take a college course in painting and decorating. His reflections on his time with Aspire was “you were the first ones who listened to me and encouraged me to be confident about myself”

3.   We recruited a young woman aged 23 who was coming out of drug addiction but was facing shoplifting charges and was warned to expect a custodial sentence. As a result of Aspire being able to testify as to her conduct and reliability she was awarded a probation order and whilst continuing to work at Aspire she was able to complete a qualification in retail and customer service. She simply needed to know that we cared enough to give her the time to help start her new reformed life.

4.  We employed a man who had been in a Salvation Army hostel prior to joining Aspire and we managed to secure a tenancy with a Housing Association just before he started work with us. He had a history of leaving jobs having fallen out with his immediate supervisors due to his attitude towards authority. We managed to address the underlying causes to this attitude and handle the conflicts with him in a positive manner. As a result his behaviour and demeanour at work was transformed and we believe that he has a better chance of holding down the new mainstream employment he has obtained. This job is at a Plant Hire Company cleaning and maintaining their equipment. His new manager is very pleased with his performance and we regularly hear from him as his company now assists our Goods Recycling Business. He has managed to maintain his tenancy with a Housing Association and has not got into any problem with arrears in contrast to previous occurrences.