Young people have limitless potential. There is nothing that isn’t achievable for them – with the right help.
The truth is, everyone needs a helping hand sometimes – especially when you are from a minority group and face the judgements, stigma and trials that come along with that. It can be harder to get started in work or higher education, and those barriers need breaking down – from the inside out.
Young Enterprise is a charity that does just that; it helps to build the skills and confidence of young people, enabling them succeed in whatever they choose to do.
Though they help all young people, no matter their background, where they live, their race or sexuality or any of the other myriad factors that can prevent a young person from receiving assistance, Young Enterprise is particularly focused on extending their reach into some of the UK’s most deprived areas.
CEO Sharon Davies has had her own experience of being helped by a youth worker, in a similar way to those who benefit from Young Enterprise today. It is what inspired her to get involved with young people herself and what brought her to Young Enterprise.
“I was brought up in a very rural part of the world, left home about 16 and … went off to essentially seek my fame and fortune,” explains Sharon. “I ended up working in a QuickSave … and then by luck met a youth worker, who saw me working with a group of young lads who used to come into the supermarket.”
From here, Sharon attended youth group sessions and fell in love with engaging young people and meeting them where they are at in their lives.
“I never forgot that firsthand experience of what support and opportunity can bring you and I’ve always felt enormously grateful [for] that one person who believed in me and came back a couple of times just to kind of check-in – and for no other reason that he felt I had potential.”
Sharon’s experience is what helps her drive Young Enterprise to support as many young people as possible, because she knows what it can mean to a young person to have someone in their corner.
Today, as the CEO of Young Enterprise, she oversees all its projects – making sure that young people are benefiting from interactions and encouragement in the way that she did when she was young.
“It’s the best job in the world,” admits Sharon. “It’s providing young people with fantastic opportunities. We work very closely with volunteers and educators, providing enterprise and financial education. And those two things in parallel [with] support and opportunity are powerful enablers … because not everybody’s got that at home.”
Ultimately, the goal of Young Enterprise is to meet young people where they’re at – to help them find their passions and their successes, no matter their circumstances. There’s no judgement in Young Enterprise – only mentorship, understanding, and a solid, unshakeable belief that young people can change the world, if only someone believes in them.
“Youth work isn’t given the credit it deserves as education…” says Sharon. “Not everybody has successful learning experiences in formal education…youth work very often is a place where young people can go [and] there are people who will meet them on their terms, provide opportunities for them, where they are.”
You can learn more about Young Enterprise, and how it supports young people, by visiting the Young Enterprise website.
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Create. Create is the UK’s leading charity empowering lives, reducing isolation and enhancing wellbeing through the creative arts. Support them here.
Save The Children UK. Save the Children is a UK charity for children that works in over 100 countries to make sure children are fed, learning and treated fairly. Learn more here.
Barnardo’s. This is a children’s charity that protects and supports children and young people in the UK who need them. Find out more here.