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A shout out for volunteers in Swindon, a new staff member at Grit & students go on work experience at Octopus

Shout out for volunteers in Swindon

It’s exciting times for our work in Swindon Academy as we’re embarking on our third year of a 5-year programme. Once again, we’re looking for dedicated, energetic coaches who could make all the difference to a young person in Swindon. Is this you? Do you know someone based in or around Swindon who is looking for a challenging, but rewarding role? Click here for more or for an informal conversation or to sign up please contact

As a voluntary coach you will participate in a 2-day Coaching Skills Workshop, delivered by some of the best trainers in personal development, followed by ongoing events to enhance what you have learnt and to support you in your role with the young people.

Each young person will participate in their own personal development experience before being matched with their volunteer coach. The coach works with the young person for 6 months, supporting them to achieve the goals the pupil has identified for themselves.

The results from year 1 and 2 are strong indicators of the impact the work we do makes and staff at the Academy testify to the changes they witness in and around school:

·       95% reported they have achieved or made significant progress towards their goals

·       87% reported increased aspirations and motivations

·       87% reported an improvement in their behaviour

·       87% reported an increase in their confidence

Young people themselves have identified and fed back on the changes they have noticed too:

·       “It has helped me improve my confidence and attitude towards things.”

·       “It has really helped me to improve on my confidence and [it] is a very useful programme."

·       “Thank you for giving me the chance for being on this programme, it has helped a lot."


Young person participates in recruitment process

On Wednesday 7th August we had a new Project Manager for the East London Community Programme start working for Grit. However, prior to getting the job, Janine Palm had to undertake a 3-part-process in order to secure the role. We spotted that this was the perfect opportunity to have a young person be involved. After all, given that Janine will be overseeing one of our largest community programmes to date and creating a significant difference for young people across East London, how could we not involve a young person who knows what it takes to bring the programme together?

Nana initially got involved with Grit a few years ago as a young person on the Youth Congress programme. She has stayed in touch with us since and we were thrilled she agreed to help us with the recruitment day. The day itself involved candidates meeting us at Octopus Investments to participate in a team activity, present a subject that had created a transformational impact in their life and participate in some basic Q & A’s.

“I felt honoured to be a part of the assessment day, as being a young person who has recently been part of the Grit programme, I recognise the positive influence the programme has had in shaping me into the person I am today. To be able to have some sort of influence in the chosen [candidate] who will work with the young people was important to me because I recognised the skills that have helped encourage me [during] on my own programme. It was positive to see the candidates expressing their interest in the lives of young people as we are often overlooked by big entities such as the media and government. The group tasks the candidates were involved in really showed the strengths each person had and gave an insight to how they would act working with the community.” – Nana, Young Person.

Newly appointed Project manager Janine shared how the recruitment process was for her; “My experience with Grit started with a presentation day with four other candidates. We were all a little bit scared but the welcome we received from Grit made the experience even more relaxed.

I enjoyed hearing each other’s ideas and interest when presenting, it felt very refreshing. The group work activity and getting the chance to meet a young person whom benefited from [a programme] was amazing. This was an interview like no other and I picked this up from the start.

When I was invited to [participate in] the person development training I was very tired. It was after work and all I wanted to do was sleep, but once the trainer started to speak, I couldn’t stop listening and by the end of day one I was ready for day two.

I was so engrossed in what he was saying that I wanted to hear more, do more, know more, which left me asking myself questions, questions I have never asked myself before. By day 3 I was hooked and at this point even if I did not get the job, I was thankful for the training which I needed…

My first week at Grit has been interesting and the welcome from all staff members has been amazing. There is so much to learn, the support is ace, and I cannot wait for my development and future.”   


Work Experience at Octopus Investments takes off

We were delighted to be offered the opportunity to put forward some young people from our previous programmes for a week of work experience at such a large, successful corporate organisation and we’ve been even more delighted to hear the feedback from all involved. In total we had 7 students complete their experience from 5th – 9th August.

“This is the first time we’ve had students from Grit and the feedback received from the various teams they have been with has been extremely positive – they are engaged, interested and showing initiative in all areas.  We have run this work experience scheme for the past three years, giving students the opportunity to work within a corporate environment which they potentially would not otherwise have had.  They are spread across the business and encouraged to interact and make contacts with various team members. This week they have been gaining experience within our finance, IT, renewable investments, compliance and customer service teams.

I would honestly say that I’d be willing to work with Grit again on another work experience project and I hope it has been as rewarding for the students as it has been for all of my colleagues and myself who have interacted with them.” – Sylvia Scott, Octopus Investments

It certainly seems that the students had a rewarding experience – here are just a few of the comments following their week-long works experience:

“My one-week experience at Octopus was definitely insightful, enjoyable and overall incredible. I had the opportunity to meet great people and do tasks I thought I could never think to do.” – Student from a Grit programme

My one-week work experience at Octopus Investments passed in no time. However, I got a chance to join the finance team there and experience accounting from the first hand. I've seen only a fraction [of] what they work on but nevertheless it was a valuable experience to me… At first, I felt overwhelmed with the amount of information I was dealing with but thanks to the explanation and help I received from the team I was able to cope with it. I was able to try out how to copy and paste values from financial data into prepared profit/loss Excel spreadsheets [and] I gained basic knowledge of understanding a company annual report. In the end I managed to gain some insight into accounting, how Octopus Investments works from inside, and on the last day I slightly felt like a small part of the team.

Thank you for all the help, good time, care and passion.” – Student from a Grit programme

“An amazing week full of opportunity to make lasting connections and get a chance to experience a potential future career.

After [attending a Grit programme] I have seen a big difference in everyday life, my relationship with different concepts and reasoning with myself have all been very positive. Very grateful for everything Grit has offered me.” – Student from a Grit programme

“I was given a hands-on experience during the week that opened my eyes. I realised that I'm more adaptable than I thought. I did real life work that mattered but which I had no previous experience in. At the beginning I didn't feel ready for it, but I adapted quickly and realised I was actually good at it." – Student from a Grit programme