BY CALUM FRASER
Young South Londoners whose employment prospects have been transformed by a social enterprise group enjoyed a graduation ceremony on Thursday
Heidi Alexander, MP for Lewisham East, joined 20 young people at Lewisham Shopping Centre to celebrate their graduation from a Get Employed training course, run by the centre’s owners Landsec, and social enterprise group Circle Collective.
Mikeila Francis, 29, was one of the graduates who completed the five-week course which equips 18-30-year olds with skills to kick-start their career.
Ms Francis said: “Before I started the Circle Collective scheme, I was finding it extremely difficult to get back into work.
“Initially I wasn’t very optimistic as I’ve been on similar programmes before that didn’t work. But once I started my training and shifts in the store, I felt it helped me get real life experience and gave me the opportunity to learn new skills.”
Circle Collective is a store in Lewisham Shopping centre which sells clothing from independent designers and companies.
They are partnered with the Circle Community registered charity which aims to get young people into employment through tailored training programmes.
Currently they have helped more than 250 young unemployed people into work.
Ms Alexander said: “It’s really good to see the work that Circle Collective do in Lewisham going from strength to strength.
“There is a common misconception that young people just want to sit around all day staring at their phones and aren’t interested in getting work. This is obviously not the case, but some do need support.
“Helping young people solve the chicken and egg problem of employers wanting experience but them not being able to get experience until they get employment is really important.
“It’s a fresh and innovative approach to helping people take the first step on their career and I am really pleased Lewisham is home to one of their shops.”
Turly Humphreys, chief executive of Circle Collective, said: “Circle Collective is so proud to have this opportunity to show what amazing young people we’ve had on our course and to celebrate their graduation in the centre for the second year in a row.”
Deputy Mayor of Lewisham council, Cllr Alan Smith, joined Ms Alexander at the award ceremony.