Works+ case study: Making connections in a rural landscape

Works + in the Scottish Borders was set up with the goal to support young people between 16 and 24 into employment, college or training or other positive destination, and are funded by the Hymans Robertson Foundation to run an employability project for 16- to 24-year-olds across the region. In 2022, Works+ secured 3-year funding from the Foundation, which will support the employability programme until 2025. Using the grant funding, the organisation continues to build on its successes. Project leaders Mark Timmins and Scott Wright have worked with local young people for 9 years, and many of today’s service users are the siblings and family members of people whom the employability project has previously helped.

Mark said. “The support from HRF is vital to Works+ as it helps us focus on both stability and development. I’m proud and delighted to say that 100% of the young people who attended our most recent course completed the course, and in those 8 weeks they learned everything from first aid to archaeology to financial literacy, and so much more. We’ve faced the challenges of COVID and come out stronger, and I can’t thank HRF enough for everything it does to help us.”

From its base in Galashiels, Works+ runs small-group 8-week courses for young people between 16 and 24 to help them improve their educational engagement, receive relevant job training, access long term volunteering opportunities, and ultimately to secure employment or a place in college or training or other positive destination.

During the 8 weeks, young people receive training in basic life skills such as cooking. They also attend a First Aid course and, with Hymans Robertson partner MyBnk, receive financial literacy training. Both can result in a qualification.

Project Manager Scott Wight said,” Gaining 2 qualification over 8 weeks greatly improves the chances for these young people to move on to a positive destination. And for some, these are the first formal qualifications they have received, and it’s fantastic to see the look on pride on their faces at the graduation ceremony we hold at the end of the 8-week course.”

A favourite activity of the course is to work in outdoor projects across the region. In October 2022, a group of young people from the Works+ 8-week course took part in an archaeological dig at Bedrule near Jedburgh. Working with experts from Archaeology Scotland, the young people helped with the excavation of Bedrule Castle, built in the 13th century, and destroyed by English forces in September 1545. Mark Timmins, Works+ Manager, said, “There are pockets of deprivation across the Borders, public transport is patchy outside of the main towns and young people can find it challenging to find local employment or consistent access to colleges and workplaces. Many of our young people in the Borders don’t get the chance to explore their own region, so opportunities at places like Bedrule Castle are great. They can explore their own wee bit of countryside and connect with it, while gaining new skills and confidence which will help with their next steps.”