Take a group of young Londoners left in the lurch by lockdown – no school, no exams, no internship opportunities, no chance to shine or celebrate their accomplishments. They came from different schools but had a common bond – an inspiring special education needs teacher. With her encouragement, they took matters into their own hands and worked together to create Stuck-In, a project providing work experience, mentoring opportunities and practical advice in creative fields for young people, while at the same time raising money for communities affected by coronavirus.
The Stuck-In team, whose ages range from 13 to 25, have clear aims:
Support young people entering a very different work environment by educating teens and young people about the world of work;
Create a level playing field by sharing opportunities equally to all young people;
Provide a platform for talented young people to receive recognition;
Raise money to support community services for young people and vulnerable women and children.
Not only did pulling together the project give the youngsters involved a sense of purpose during the lockdown limbo, what they’ve now created will help other young people step up to the challenges of compromised prospects, stand out and be recognised for their talents.
Stuck-In consists of two platforms: Stand-Out and Step-Up.
Stand-Out is a series of prestigious creative competitions with prizes of work experience and mentorship. There are 7 companies and individuals participating in the first cycle, including Warner Music, photographer David Sims and actress Tracy-Ann Oberman. The competitions are now open, calling on young people aged 16-18 from all communities across the UK to showcase their talents.
Step-Up, which will be launched in the spring, is a series of interviews with successful individuals, asking the one question young people will need to know going forward: ‘How Did You Get That Job?’. Step-Up will feature written interviews and live online speakers ranging from the CEO of Universal Music through to a Love Island producer. Step-Up empowers young people to understand how careers are shaped with ambition, regardless of circumstance. The first live event will be ‘How Did You Get That Job…in TV?’ featuring an Executive Producer of Love Island, Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity.
Stuck-In is a charitable trust and is raising money for Place2Be, the UK’s leading school-based children’s mental health charity and the domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid. It will also use funds raised to help competition winners who require financial support to travel for their prize.
Stuck-In Director, Julianne Miller, the only adult involved, helped bring together the young people: “There has been a shocking absence of leadership in the UK in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, especially with regards to the needs of young people. Years of hard work disappeared in an instant, leaving only the prospect of rampant grade deflation, insecure University places and an inhospitable, reeling job market. The responsibility to care for the needs of young people and their futures has fallen onto their own shoulders. They’ve had to look to themselves to provide the leadership they need right now.”
16-year-old Lulu is the director of the Step-Up platform: “Everyone starts somewhere, but this can’t dictate where we can go from there. Reading the interviews in Step-Up, it’s clear how many pathways to success there are, and how success can be reached by everyone if they know how to start.”
Chloe, also 16 and the director of the Stand-Out strand, said:
“Young people deserve a chance to be recognised for their talent, no matter what kind of school they went to or where they grew up. We want to ensure winners are chosen on merit and not by who they know.”
Tallulah, 25, is the Content and Publicity Director: “As a recent graduate, my own creative career was paused due to Covid. Every play I had lined up to direct was cancelled, and job opportunities in the arts vanished. Because I volunteered with Stuck-In, the last year has enabled me to use the time to give back as well as developing skills that will serve me in my career going forward. As an artist, I’ve mentored others and been mentored myself – a testament to what Stuck-In can do.”