Having worked with Community Links on Talent Match for four years, I can honestly say I have really enjoyed working on this programme.  As an Advisor, it has been a journey of insight. As a youth-led programme, Talent Match has broadened our understanding of working with young people and strengthened our delivering style. It has allowed me to put my focus on the young person and taking my time with them. Our focus has been on helping them concentrate on their chosen career path, instead of just any job.

I felt very valued, well-supported and part of a great team working on Talent Match. We judge success by moving a young person forward; this could be by progressing them further into a positive pathway, or it may be just to build their confidence and increase their motivation. At Community Links, we focus on developing a strong, supporting, trusting relationship between advisors and young people. Recruiting young people onto the programme and ensuring that they are with us for two years means that the young person is able to get a lot more help, plus it gives them a sense of security. Talent Match is about taking young people on a journey and working to design a youth-led service. This is shown by the 5 Point Youth Pledge, designed “for the Youth Committee to evaluate the delivery of the programme from the point of view of a young person”.

At first, there were some challenges in adjusting to the youth-led approach taken by Community Links and Talent Match. With time, however, this meant that I was able to give more of my time to the young people and work with them more closely. Being able to provide this close support is also important to help young people overcome their barriers and problems they might be facing. These might include family breakdown, mental health issues, housing issues or even homelessness.

There are other positives to Talent Match such as partnership working and having access to great opportunities like Opportunity Knocks. This has meant that as an Advisor I have been able to access a wider range of opportunities.  Talent Match has helped me to become a better Advisor as I have been able to access training, and to gain advice and support on certain areas. I also had the opportunity to help plan and organise events which I believe were very successful.

I feel that Talent Match is an awesome programme for young people and wish there were more programmes like this out there! I know the majority of the young people I have worked with feel fortunate to be on the Talent Match programme.