Kickstart was our six-month training programme, developed to give young people a confidence boost and get them into work. It offered a much-needed opportunity to those wishing to make a change, improve their confidence and skills, or start a career.

For many young people, a lack of experience and repeated rejection can result in feeling hopeless about work. But Kickstart is committed to investing in young people and working with them to ultimately secure a permanent role, either with us or elsewhere.

Of the 67 people who initially joined the programme, 37 accepted permanent jobs with Southern Housing and a further 20 were supported to secure alternative employment.

Levanna Flanders, a Southern Housing resident, and Ella Walton are two former Kickstarters, who now work with us. They kindly shared their stories.

IMG 0045

Levanna's Story

“I was working in Nando’s when the opportunity to join the Kickstart programme in the Fire Safety Team cropped up. I was hesitant at first, as I didn’t have any experience and I’d always thought I’d work my way up in the sector I was working in.

But I went for an interview, and they were happy to take me on! I was 21 years old at the time, I thought a door was opening for me and it was a good time to make a career change and build my knowledge, so I went for it.

I didn’t really know what to expect, I went in blind, but it was interesting and a real change from what I was used to. I was working with different people, in a different environment and the mindset was different. It was nerve-wracking at first, I wasn’t used to speaking to tenants, contractors and surveyors – I was a tenant myself!

As I neared the end of the programme, a team assistant role opened up in the Property Services Team, so it worked out perfectly. I’ve been in that role for 18 months now and I’m finding my feet and finding myself, I’m so much more confident communicating with my team and others now.

My role is going well and I’m really enjoying it. I consider myself a people person, so I love talking to the tenants and I love problem solving, I think that’s something Southern Housing does really well. I’m ready for a change within the organisation - I’d like to take on more responsibility so I’m hoping something comes my way!

I’m so grateful for Kickstart, as it’s got me to where I am today. It’s boosted my confidence and opened doors for me, so I’m incredibly thankful."

IMG 0019[1]

Ella's Story

“I finished sixth form at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, so I didn’t get to take my final exams. I was awarded my predicted grades, but these weren’t what I’d hoped to achieve. I started looking for work during the pandemic, but no one would give me a chance, because I didn’t have any experience.

I knew I wanted to find an administrative role, so the job centre put me in touch with Southern Housing, to interview for the Kickstart programme. The interview was a relaxed and positive experience and I felt at ease, and when I started, there were others starting at the same time too, which was nice, as I didn’t feel alone.

I was apprehensive about the programme, as I worried that in six months’ time, I’d be back at square one looking for a job again, but I didn’t realise how supportive the team would be in helping me to find work, even if it wasn’t with Southern Housing.

Kickstart exceeded my expectations, I was fully supported throughout by the call centre team and towards the end, we started to work on my CV, but they really wanted me to stay. So, I was glad when a team assistant role within the Customer Response Team came up.

I’ve been with the team for two years now, I’m really happy in my role and I love the team. I don’t know what the future holds but I’m comfortable and happy here and I want to stay with Southern Housing.”

Speaking of the Kickstart programme, Volunteer Manager, Lola Oyewusi said: “I’m so proud to be the project manager for Kickstart. The programme reflects how Southern Housing values young people, regardless of the issues they’re going through. We’ll take you on board and give you the resources and skills you need to get you to where you want to go.

“Thanks to all the colleagues involved, the programme has been a great success. It makes me so proud to walk around the business and see the amazing opportunities we’ve been able to give to these young people, who are now permanent colleagues.”