Earlier this year, The People’s Orchestra announced that they were getting involved with the Government’s Kickstart scheme, which seeks to help 16-24 year olds get into the world of work despite the challenges faced with the Covid-19 pandemic. Just a few weeks after the project began, we are pleased to announce that TPO has its first Kickstart success.
Junaid, an Accounting graduate, was looking for work following the completion of his degree, but was finding it difficult to find employment in the situation of the pandemic – a feeling which many of us have experienced in the past year. At the job centre, his work coach found him the opportunity to join The People’s Orchestra through the Kickstart programme. He read up about the charity and thought it would be a good way to develop skills in a business setting, along with enabling him to use his skills on Excel and other software.
“The People’s Orchestra are exactly what they say they are,” Junaid says. “They are for the people.
“I’ve never before had an interview like the one I did for the Orchestra,” he adds. “Liz [TPO’s Orchestra Manager] and Becca [TPO’s Communications and Engagement Manager] were really bubbly and friendly, and they wanted to find out who I was as a person. I felt relaxed immediately as it felt more like a chat than an interview. They look at who you are, not just your qualifications.”
Previously, his office experience had been limited to just a week on a placement with another company, who he says didn’t really care if he was progressing or how he was getting on. “Liz gave me a nice workload which didn’t feel overloaded. I also got little deadlines to complete tasks which helped me to complete the work in a timely fashion. She also made me work in teams with other Kickstart volunteers, which helped me get experience of working in a team – I got along with them all really well. Even though there were quite a few of us, I felt like TPO cared about how I was doing, and Liz was always checking up on me, making sure I was alright.
“Even working remotely and online, I felt like part of the team. We had weekly socials across the charity and that meant I got to know everyone and chat to them. TPO is extremely collaborative – and that’s one of the best things about it.”
In his month with us, Junaid was an Admin Assistant. He helped to organise parts of the Commonwealth Community Music Initiative, helping to find venues and put together important information regarding instruments and rehearsals. Additionally, he gained experience using Salesforce software, which is crucial for many businesses. “Even though I was only with the orchestra for a month, I feel like I’ve achieved a lot.”
On the Kickstart scheme, participants are additionally expected to complete tasks to aid them in the search for new employment, including CV improvement and job hunting. “Mariann [TPO’s Employment Officer] helped me a lot with my CV. It was one of the reasons I got my new job – my CV presented me really professionally, and it got me more interview opportunities.”
Junaid’s new job is at a clinic in West Bromwich. “They were looking for someone who could work in different departments across the business,” he says. “The experience I gained from The People’s Orchestra showed them I could do it.”
There are more opportunities to get involved with The People’s Orchestra through the Kickstart Scheme – with the closing date for the next round of recruitment being 14 June 2021, starting work at the end of June / beginning of July. To get involved, just speak to your Job Centre work coach.
About his overall experience, Junaid says: “The People’s Orchestra is the best place to start work-life at; people should try to get involved even voluntarily. It’s a really good experience and you’ll feel great that the work you’re doing directly helps the local community.”