The council chamber at the Town Hall played host to an uprising last week – or at least a group of future leaders from the UpRising youth development organisation. UpRising describes its mission as “breaking the cycle of unrepresentative power in the UK by developing new, community-minded and socially-conscious leaders.”
Young men and women on the organisation’s Fastlaners programme take part in employability skills workshops, personal development sessions and visits to employers.
On Thursday, a group of Fastlaners spent the day at the Town Hall to get an insight into local government and the career opportunities it has to offer.
The visit included a chance to hear from council officers about their working lives and how they came to be in their current positions.
One of those who spoke to the group was Asma Nahar, the council’s community training hub coordinator responsible for organising access to adult learning and English training for speakers of other languages across Tower Hamlets.
The opportunity to offer her insight and advice was particularly personal for Asma. Ten years ago she was a participant on one of the first leadership programmes ever run by UpRising, an experience that included a three week trip to India that she credits with giving her the confidence and determination to succeed in her career to date.
“It took me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to new opportunities in unfamiliar environments,” said Asma.
“You meet different people but you’re all brought together with a common purpose and a drive to make a difference.”
When asked what one piece of advice she would give to young people embarking on their career today, Asma added: “Everybody’s opportunities are different, but that doesn’t matter. It’s how you make the most of them that counts.
“I would tell young people not to worry about looking and planning too far ahead. Don’t get stressed out about your five year plan, concentrate on using your skills to make the most of the opportunities you have now.”
When the Fastlaners reach the end of their programme, they will be mentored to help them put what they’ve learned into practice, identify opportunities and secure interviews.
One of the attributes that will be key in achieving success is self-belief.
Speaking to the group during their visit, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, told them how he would never have imagined as a youngster that he would one day be the mayor of one of London’s most exciting boroughs.
Mayor Biggs said: “I was delighted to welcome UpRising to the council. Programmes such as Fastlaners are an important way of giving our young people the insight into the world of work and careers that they may not otherwise get in their everyday lives.
“We are committed to putting young people at the heart of what we do and to ensuring that everyone, no matter what their background, has equal access to opportunities.
“I’m pleased to support UpRising’s work and I look forward to seeing them continuing to go from strength to strength.”
UpRising Programme Manager, Andrew Crisp, added: “During their visit, the participants learned how to improve their job applications, how to identify their transferable skills and they were also given an opportunity to learn about the work experiences of a number of people who work across the council.
“This experience has allowed the participants to develop a deeper understanding of what it’s like to work in local government and, hopefully, has inspired some of them to pursue a career in it.”