Young Leaders on track for bright future

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Time to celebrate: the Young Leaders tell their story

Last edited: 26 February 2015

A programme that brought together disadvantaged youngsters and elite athletes to mark the 2014 Commonwealth Games has been described as ‘an amazing journey’ by double Olympic Champion Dame Kelly Holmes. BP Magazine meets those involved

Following the success of the inaugural BP Young Leaders Programme during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, more than 50 young people in Scotland have taken part in the second programme of its kind – this time to mark the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Supported by BP, the initiative brings together the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Inspiring Scotland and a number of other partner organizations that work in five areas of the country: Aberdeen, Shetland, Falkirk, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The 18-month training programme, designed to improve communication, confidence and chances of employment, has seen the young people participate in a number of community projects and earn qualifications in a range of vocational skills. World-class elite athletes mentored the Young Leaders, as well as BP staff.

For many of the 17 to 21-year-olds, the opportunity to volunteer at last summer’s Commonwealth Games proved the highlight of the programme. As the young people now move on to pursue jobs, education and other forms of training, those involved reflect on the legacy of the BP Young Leaders Programme 2014:

The young leaders

Originally from Morocco, Tarek* arrived in Shetland aged 16 and slept on the streets. While receiving support from the local Bridges Project to complete his education, he also discovered a talent for athletics. “I heard about the BP Young Leaders Programme 2014 through my involvement with youth services and I wanted to be part of it, to volunteer in the community and help out at the Commonwealth Games. As a result of the programme, I’ve moved to the mainland to complete a course in personal training and run some boxing sessions.

“It’s been great to meet the athletes and hear their amazing stories – it made me think ‘I could be good at something like that’.” Tarek has now completed a sports mentoring course at a Glasgow college and been accepted to join a further course in sports training skills. He is settled with his wife and baby daughter and learning to drive thanks to the BP Young Leaders Programme 2014. 

In foster care since the age of 12, Amelia* had been unemployed for four months before joining the programme. She was prone to depression and panic attacks – but was looking for opportunities to develop her skills and get out of the house. After participating in a number of workshops with the programme and completing a course in emergency first aid, she also worked towards a qualification as a community sports leader. As part of the assessment, she led a three-hour sports session with 12 primary school children.

Today, Amelia has a job in administration and is studying health and social care at college, as she wants to become a paramedic. To that end, she is also learning to drive through the programme.

*names changed 

"I feel really proud to have seen the amazing journey the Young Leaders have been on; the confidence they now have is incredible and knowing that 87% have moved into training, employment or education makes me feel good."

- Dame Kelly Holmes

The double Olympic champion and trust founder: Dame Kelly Holmes

“The mentors at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust are all former or current elite athletes. As such, they know what it’s like to overcome adversity and to stay focused on a goal because they believe in their hearts that they can do it. Along the way, they probably had moments when they doubted themselves and needed someone to spur them on. Their input to the programme is so important because they encouraged and inspired the Young Leaders to go for it and stick at it. They helped them believe that anything is possible.  

Likewise, the programme wouldn’t be possible without BP’s support - it’s as simple as that. Not only has the business chosen to back the programme but staff have been fully committed and involved throughout. It’s a brilliant partnership.

I feel really proud to have seen the amazing journey the Young Leaders have been on; the confidence they now have is incredible and knowing that 87% have moved into training, employment or education makes me feel good, because that’s what we set out to achieve. The Commonwealth Games offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to be involved as volunteers; the legacy lies in the progress and success of these young people. They are real ambassadors and I wish them all the best for the future.” 

The programme manager: Debbie McColgan, Inspiring Scotland

“Each young person who joined the BP Young Leaders Programme 2014 recorded at least one challenge in their life, whether that be lack of work experience, low self-esteem, mental health issues, lack of parental support or homelessness.

When I first met the Young Leaders, many had very poor confidence and were extremely nervous about the prospect of an interview to become a Games volunteer. It’s been amazing to see their progress – I stayed with them all in a Glasgow hotel during the Commonwealth Games and I was impressed to see how well they settled into living away from home, how they bonded as a group and supported one another. 

All the Young Leaders have now achieved some form of accredited learning – a recognised qualification in subjects including construction, health and safety or first aid. They’ve also all identified a path forward – 18 of them are going to college or university, while three want to pursue engineering-based careers and have BP staff mentors to provide ongoing advice. In the last six months of the programme, many have opted to take driving lessons as well, and this mobility massively enhances their employment prospects.”

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