Paige Hutchings (left) was NEET before joining a BCHA Learn programme and will now be helping other young people get back on track. Also pictured: Val Jefferies and Jamie Clarke, Project Managers for 1624 and Nadia Silva, 1624 Project co-ordinator.
Paige Hutchings (left) was NEET before joining a BCHA Learn programme and will now be helping other young people get back on track. Also pictured: Val Jefferies and Jamie Clarke, Project Managers for 1624 and Nadia Silva, 1624 Project co-ordinator.

Employability specialist BCHA Learn has launched a year-long project to support the growing number of 16-24-year-olds not in work or education.

BCHA Learn has used funding secured from grant-giving charity Talbot Village Trust to create 1624 – a  programme offering one-to-one or small group coaching for young people in BCP who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

Val Jefferies, Project Manager of 1624 explained: “Figures show that a staggering 788,000 people aged 16-24 were classed as NEET in the UK at the end of 2022, up from 724,000 in the previous quarter.

“Here in BCP an estimated 11.5 per cent of all young people are believed to be NEET. These include young people who cannot find work, those who have lost jobs, or those who have already dropped out of school or college or are at risk of doing so.

“These young people are often disconnected and struggling, yet unsure where to turn.

“Not surprisingly, being NEET can have a detrimental effect on young peoples’ physical and mental health and also increase the likelihood of unemployment, low wage and low quality of work later in life.”

Val continued: “Thanks to Talbot Village Trust’s financial backing and our referral partners including the DWP, BCP Council and Bournemouth & Poole College, we will be providing intensive bespoke weekly coaching aimed at improving young peoples’ wellbeing, life and communication skills – and ultimately routes into training and employment.”

The 1624 programme includes free life skills sessions incorporating cooking, budgeting, communication skills, wellbeing and employability support to help young people reduce anxiety, develop a strong CV and be comfortable and confident in interviews.

Flexible one to one coaching and optional small group workshops will be available in Bournemouth, Poole and Boscombe and public transport expenses will be paid. Funds are also available for interview clothes and short courses.

Paige Hutchings, now 26, was NEET before joining BCHA Learn’s young people’s provision following the Covid pandemic. She is now employed full time as a BCHA Learn Admissions & Engagement Co-ordinator.

Paige said: “The reason I became NEET started in COVID, coupled with a lack of confidence, direction and poor mental health.

“COVID hit me very hard, both physically and mentally, and with the support of my family I took voluntary redundancy from my retail role.

“When I started to look for a new job, my DWP work coach recommended that I apply for a kind of mini-apprenticeship hopefully leading to a real job with BCHA.

“BCHA Learn’s support programmes enabled me to improve my employability skills, my CV, interview skills etc, as well as building my confidence. I then applied for my current permanent role, and I’ve never been happier.

“Being out of work and education can happen for many reasons out of your control and can make you feel you are trapped in limbo,” continued Paige.

“But I’m proof of how BCHA Learn can help get you back on the right track and I’m thrilled to be helping other young people in the same difficult situation as I was.”

Nick Ashley-Cooper, Chairman at Talbot Village Trust, said: “With recent figures showing that as many as 10 per cent of young people across BCP are classed as ‘NEET’, we’re delighted to support BCHA Learn in its mission to help reduce this number.

“Through key partner organisations, the 1624 programme will offer coaching sessions to those most in need. From cooking to wellbeing, these sessions develop key skills that enhance prospects and help build futures.

“We believe that with the right training, support and advice, every young person can realise their potential. It’s vital that we empower young people, convincing them of their self-worth and the positive impact they can offer our communities.”

Val Jefferies added: “During this year-long project we hope 1624 will make a real difference to young peoples’ self-esteem, aspirations and employability. We also

hope to make valuable connections with local businesses and employers which want to join with us to help young people.”

BCHA Learn would like to hear from other businesses and organisations which would be interested in supporting their work with 16–24-year-olds at risk of becoming NEET. Please email: 

For media information on this release, please contact Debbie Granville at:

Talbot Village Trust

In 1850, Victorian sisters Georgina and Mary-Ann Talbot embarked on a pioneering mission to transform the lives of people living in deprived rural areas surrounding Bournemouth and Poole.

More than 170 years later, their ambitious vision continues through the work of Talbot Village Trust, a grant-giving land-based charity inspired, informed, and motivated by the powerful social purpose of its founders.

Giving away more than £1million a year to charities across east Dorset, the Trust awards funds twice a year, with no application too small and no previous experience or involvement required. Charities are invited to apply for funding at

Talbot Village Trust can be found at the following social media handles: Twitter: @TalbotTrust Instagram: @Talbotvillagetrust

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