Venture: Brighter Steppings
Award level: Level 2 – £7,500
Purpose of award: To help grow the skills of young people.
Without the money, we wouldn’t have achieved so many things in the past year, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it all.
Growing up, Seun Oshinaike, now 23, felt that himself and his peers were lacking the social and communication skills needed for the work place.
Somewhat despondent, he ended up with low GCSE results. But he liked volunteering at his local youth club in the evenings.
Through the youth club, Seun took part in an exciting government-supported youth leadership programme called Youth of Today, which changed his path in life.
“On the programme, I had a lot of responsibility for helping young people develop their skills and I developed my own at the same time,” he says.
Seun went to university, but left after a year to set up his organisation – Brighter Steppings – with his business partner, so he could dedicate his energy to empowering today’s youth. “I want kids to have the opportunities and experiences that I didn’t have,” says Seun.
A successful pilot of their main programme, Right Step, impressed UnLtd and Sean received a £7,500 Level 2 grant to run the continuous six-week programme, every Wednesday night, at Dagenham Library in East London.
Through the 6-week course there are work-shadowing opportunities, debating sessions and other key work and life skills on offer for 10-16 year olds.
“They are encouraged to come up with their own ideas for projects and work together. The increase in confidence of those involved is often remarkable” says Seun.
The importance of such programmes cannot be underestimated in an area such as the London borough of Barking and Dagenham. Last year, the area had the third highest proportion of 19-year-olds lacking a Level 3 qualification (anything above a GCSE) – in England.
Brighter Steppings has now worked with 300 young people, some of who use the group as a springboard for launching their own ideas.
“Two of the young ambassadors in the group recently came up with the idea of a guidebook that helps children transition from primary school to high school” Seun says, proudly. “We are working with them to create it and they will get a share of the sales price.”
Nana is one of the young ambassadors involved in creating the book. She was 14 when she decided to search on Gumtree for something to do in her summer holidays and happened upon an event organising opportunity at Brighter Steppings.
“I feel like skills that were there all along have been brought out since I’ve been at Brighter Steppings. I’ve had some great, and fun, experience and I think I’d like to run my own events company” she says.
Some of the young people have even successfully applied to UnLtd themselves. Seun says that UnLtd’s funding has been crucial to Brighter Stepping. “I was able to use some of it for personal expenses, which was important. I needed to keep myself going to keep Brighter Steppings growing,” he says.
“Without that money, we wouldn’t have scaled up to the point we’re at the moment. We wouldn’t have achieved so many things in the past year, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it all” says Seun.