Leading Link is a Registered Charity (1150296), based in Northumberland. The organisation was established in April 2011 and its main aim is to provide real life opportunities, including business and enterprise, through a diverse range of activities, helping to maximise the potential of young people across North East England - we are independent but have the experience and expertise to help bridge the gap between young people and the real world.
Leading Link works on a local, regional and national level and we strive to advance capability, opportunity and knowledge through all of the young people that we work with - we passionately believe that attainment and aspirations in early years, especially in a real life context, has a significant impact on later life chances. We also firmly believe in asset based project work, looking at the strengths of our young people and building on these to enhance confidence and leadership skills and not about changing the young person to fit into a box.
We develop key life skills through all of our projects, with a strong emphasis placed on youth leadership. We encourage individuality and creativity, with the right mix between freedom and structure, then apply it to a real world context. This is achieved through our growing network of delivery partners and progression opportunities - including The Key, Bait, Jigsaw Event Management, Draeger, Highlights PR, The Co-op, Off The Grid to name a few - to help to enhance our key aim of #maximiseyourpotential.
The skills that we explore and encourage have proven to be the building blocks for future success in education, training and ultimately into employment for young people that we have worked with. Partnered with the development of key social skills including confidence, teamwork and self-esteem, we give young people the best possible chance to make their own informed choices, build their own lives and ultimately maximise their potential.
Our work falls into five main project
Leading Link manage the Northumberland Children's University, which is a national programme for 5-13 year olds (participation) and 14+ year olds (volunteering), that aims to raise the aspirations of young people across the country and encourage quality learning and experience outside the classroom.
The Sutton Trust’s Life Lessons Report illustrated how giving young people from all backgrounds a greater opportunity to develop life skills through extra-curricular activities can be an engine for opportunity and social mobility. Children's University™ use ‘Passports To Learning’ in which young people record the number of hours of completed extra-curricular activities, which have been validated using our quality control framework.
Activities can include anything from attending after-school sports clubs, going swimming at a local leisure centre, attending a local activity or visiting one of hundreds of public places ie Alnwick Gardens, Woodhorn or Seven Stories.
Once signed up, there are also further opportunities for passport holders to collect stamps through activities provided by Leading Link (subject to funding) or through our network of partners.
Once a passport holder has achieved the minimum amount of 30 hours, they are then invited to put on their cap and gown and attend a graduation ceremony at the end of each year, where friends and family are invited to celebrate their achievements
We are absolutely delighted to announce that funding from Northumberland County Council has enabled us to expand to Lynemouth, Linton, Ellington and Newbiggin in 2018.
Leading Link work with several schools across North East England on a diverse range of activities which are designed to enhance the curriculum and offer real life opportunities for students of the school.
One of our most successful workshops has been created from a survey on young peoples priority issues. The outright winner was Independent Living and hence the birth of 'That's Life'! A series of challenges from ironing, putting up flat packs to budgeting.
Dedicated projects include helping to promote youth voice and learning how to manage positive change in school and the wider community and promoting role models by encouraging young people to become leaders/volunteers, including our hugely successful Youth Ambassadors programme.
We manage transition, including facilitating targetted summer programmes and mixing Primary year groups throughout their final year to ease the transition into Secondary school and encourage interaction with each other, through various activities including Maths Magic, Roving Reporters and Forensic Science fun.
We also provide bespoke programmes for targetted groups of young people, including those deemed to have mental health and/or emotional health issues, at risk of being excluded, young people who are less academic and general behavioural issues. We help to identify and overcome problems, as well as provide opportunities for progression.
In an area with little access to creative industry, we have our own youth media team as well as a strong working partnership with Radio Northumberland. We also work with several schools on the BBC News School Report, which is a national project which aims to encourage young people to get involved with newsmaking.
We are delighted that in 2017 we delivered enterprise in 12 schools within Northumberland and Newcastle which encompassed over 104 groups accessing training delivered by ourselves commissioned by our partner The Key. That was over 400 young people who experienced becoming an entrepreneaur. We held 4 teenage markets and a host of other opportunities for the participants. The skills they learnt were phenonemal and we saw the emergence of some true entrepreneurs.
We began this exciting new addition in 2017 and already have an action packed programme planned for 2018 named 'NRG'. Picture this, bush craft meets solar. Young people develop their leadership skills as well as respecting their environment. Already our young leaders have camped out in the woods with nothing more than a spade learning to live off the land. They have then embedded their skills by teaching their peers. Then solar power was introduced........ building a trailer with mini wind turbines and solar panels may not sound exciting to all, but when they can charge their phones, put some light in the dark woods and listen to music, it becomes very exciting!
1-1 Emotional Health and Well-Being
We are currently active in pulling together a participation project that young people can access no matter where they are at the time. Young people can access our 1-1 mentor scheme which involves our wonderful adult volunteers. Our volunteers can be a listening ear, help with transport, encourage them to access support in their area or introduce them to clubs and activities that they may enjoy. Thereafter we have opportunities for our young people to grow through our targeted well-being programmes encouraging growth mind set, resilience and confidence to make it happen for themselves in the future. We have adopted a woods in Druridge Bay, a wall in Lynemouth, and a space in Hadston to reach out to even more young people this year.
Within this category we look at healthy living, drug and alcohol issues, social media and being active. We have quite an extensive programme for 2018.
We are so proud of our network of partners and the opportunities they present. For instance we work closely with Bait at Woodhorn Colliery and have been heavily involved with the last 3 years of winter festivals, the miners picnic and other fantastic art project across the community.
We are also working closely with Jigsaw Event Management, the team that organises the hugely popular Northumberland Live. Our young people have all had specific roles such as media, hospitality for VIP's, marshals, enterprise, street theatre for the past 3 years now and we are looking forward to joining them again in Blyth, Saturday 23 June 2018.
We are continually identifying potential to progress for young people through our strong partnership work, and we often discover opportunities that can be applied to, and accessed by, all of our key project strands.