Supporting vulnerable young people into work

by James Plunket in Didcot, England, United Kingdom

Total raised £50,672

raised so far



We are raising funds to support operational costs of our education, employability and wellbeing programmes.

by James Plunket in Didcot, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Working with National partners

As an early and active member of the Youth Employment Group, brought together by Impetus (Private Equity Foundation) and the Youth Endowment Fund, SOFEA continues to work with a range of voluntary sector partners to address the educational and employment inequalities that leave many disadvantaged young people at risk of poor qualifications and job prospects.

Our work with the Local Enterprise Partnerships in Oxfordshire and South East Midlands provides links to local employers that are able to provide work experience, apprenticeships and full employment for our young people.

The cost of youth unemployment

Data from the Learning & Work Institute (March 2022) shows that younger people with fewer qualifications, soft skills (emotional resilience, teamwork, communication) and technical skills find it increasingly difficult to secure work in a competitive jobs market recovering from the Covid pandemic and with relatively low unemployment. In such a marketplace, less-qualified young people risk becoming long-term NEET and costing the state significant amounts of money in benefits and support. 

Furthermore, the economic cost of youth unemployment linked to lost productivity and tax revenues was forecast to be £9.8bn in 2022.

UK Government figures (August 2023) show that 524,000 young people (16-24) are unemployed or economically inactive. Using the 2022 forecast cost of unemployment, this equates to £18,700 per young person.

SOFEA's value and return-on-investment

By comparison, SOFEA’s employability programme, run from our Didcot and Milton Keynes sites, will cost £466,000 during our financial year (July 2023 to June 2024), equating to £1,200 for each of the 390 young people supported – representing a 15-times return on investment for supporting young NEETs into meaningful and engaging education, employment or training.


SOFEA is an education and training charity enabling disadvantaged young people to (re)engage with learning, skills training and work. We support young people aged 16-25 at our Didcot and Milton Keynes sites running FareShare food redistribution operations across the Thames Valley and South Midlands. Young people are referred by schools and colleges, pupil referral units, social services, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the police. Many are at risk of becoming long-term NEET, leading to a life of poor qualifications, low skills, insecure work or unemployment.

About the Project

The interests and capabilities of people living in disadvantaged communities are easily squashed by systems that favour wealth, education and social standing. Whilst opportunities are not equal or equitable, SOFEA successfully supports learners and trainees from different ethnic backgrounds through its academic, training, wellbeing and social programmes. Our work with partners helps to progress young people into further education, volunteering, apprenticeships and full employment, improving physical health and mental wellbeing whilst developing and strengthening social cohesion. 

Whilst our young people have common issues and needs, they support each other and work together without stigma or judgement.

With many young people coming to us having grown up in adversity, we acknowledge the complexities, conflicts and disruptions of their family, self-belief and personal aspirations. We hold the emotional wellbeing of each young person by building trust and providing mentoring and coaching within safe places across a range of activities and specialist programmes.

SOFEA’s specialist support workers help young people to address and overcome deep-rooted emotions and responses in an empathic and sustained way, improving their ability to engage in positive behaviours and improve critical thinking skills. In turn, they become less disruptive, more engaged and positively involved with their education, training and social activities. Our young people attend regularly, make academic progress and improve across all social, behavioural and emotional markers.



Monitoring and evaluating success

We use Impact Tracker to monitor and evaluate the progress and achievements of each young person, noting classes attended, exams taken, courses completed, qualifications achieved, extracurricular activities participated in. 

All therapeutic records are maintained using the confidential NHS RIO system. 

We track the wellbeing of young people using WEMWBS (Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale). 

These systems provide quantitative and qualitative data that can be collated and used by our teams to evaluate the effectiveness of certain interventions for each cohort and individual. Where possible, adaptations to each programme delivery can be made to optimise the outcomes for each learner and trainee.

These data can be used to relate the number moving from NEET to EET. Such data is captured, tracked, evaluated and presented as a percentage of the cohort at the end of the programme.

We expect to support 390 young people through our employability programme.

Our use of funds

The money raised will help to fund 6 specialist support workers in our education, employability and wellbeing programmes

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