Huge congratulations to Curtis, who has landed a job as a runner with Optomen TV’s show ‘Sort Your Life Out’ with Stacey Solomon! We supported Curtis through our Aspire Higher careers networking scheme to gain a place on the award winning MAMA Youth six week digital media training course in January. He was the first person to gain a job on the course and will be starting his five month placement later this month.

When Curtis was referred onto Aspire Higher he was frustrated at the repeated knockbacks he was getting trying to break into the creative industries of TV and music. These industries are notoriously closed to people such as care leavers with limited social connections. With our support Curtis applied to MAMA Youth and despite the challenges the course threw his way, flourished. As well as helping him develop new skills in TV and media, the course has helped him grow in self confidence and gain a new social circle.

Curtis says: “Before I didn’t have an ounce of hope but through Aspire Higher and MAMA Youth I now have hope for the future.

“The Aspire Higher scheme has been a massive help with getting me into my desired line of work no matter how difficult it has been at times. I have had to pursue many twists and turns to get where I am today but it has all been worth it.

“The scheme has provided me with various opportunities which have fundamentally led me down a path of new experiences and insights to future pathways and plans.

“Through Aspire Higher, I was placed in a work/trainee placement, which has now led me into a career. The opportunity Aspire Higher have me allowed me to adopt a whole new skill set as well as being more confident within myself and my work.

“From the MAMA Youth Project,  I have become a more mature and professional candidate suitable for the TV industry. MAMA Youth has helped better me and helped me understand the level of professionalism and expertise one must have within the industry. Overall, I feel I am a more confident within myself and how I conduct myself in the world of work.”

MAMA Youth said: “Curtis was very committed and enthusiastic. Since completing the training he was recommended for work opportunities and secured a runner contract with Optomen for 18 weeks. He will also receive support after this contract so that he stays in employment in an industry that is very contract based and can be at times difficult to navigate. MAMA Youth will carry on being in touch with Live Unlimited to take part in any of their career events and we hope that through the partnership we can help more young care leavers and/or young people in care to forge a successful career in media.”  Mariana Magnavita, Outreach Manager, MAMA Youth

Aspire Higher is our careers networking scheme for Barnet’s care experienced young people aged 16- 25. 

Through our events young people get the chance to connect with experts from a range of different industries they wouldn’t usually get to meet. They get to hear the inside track on a range of different career options and receive advice and signposting on how to break into a wide range of different industries. 

As well as follow-on support from the experts, they receive careers coaching support on writing their CV, interview skills and job hunting from recruitment experts Matrix as well as Barnet’s employment support services; BELS and BOOST.

We’ve been lucky to receive support from a huge range of businesses who have come along to our Aspire Higher events so far; artsdepot, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, MAMA Youth, Volker Fitzpatrick, Bumblebee Lettings, Moving the Needle, UKIE gaming industry and Springboard, supporting people into jobs in the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Off the back of our events two young people have enjoyed paid work placements at the artsdepot, two others are due to take up a football coaching course with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and a further four have applied for jobs and training opportunities they would have otherwise not known about.

The artsdepot north Finchley, provided two paid work placements following our summer Aspire Higher careers networking event. Brigitte Adela, Creative Producer, (Community Engagement) said: “I met Indika and Ikari at an Aspire Higher Careers event last summer and had a chat with them along with a few other young people about their interests and goals. It’s been such a pleasure to see Indika and Ikari grow in such a short space of time during their placement at the artsdepot. On the first day they were very quiet, but over the weeks I’ve seen their confidence grow and grow. It’s been a real privilege getting to know them both and see their skills develop, I can’t wait to see what they are both going to do next. They both have very exciting futures ahead of them and I’m glad that we’ve been able to be part of their journey. ”  

Ikari, 23, added: “I’d like to thank you for the opportunity Aspire Higher has given me. Through the artsdepot placement I’ve met so many great people and learned about all different aspects of the arts. I’ve discovered it is possible to have a career path in something that gives you real joy and pleasure. I’ve decided I want to become a lighting designer, something I would never have had hands on experience of before, and to aspire to pursue a career in the arts.”



The sun shone, the pizzas were a hit and more importantly the young care leavers who came along to our first face-to-face Aspire Higher networking event got a lot out of it.

Aspire Higher is a series of network meetings to give Barnet’s 16-25 year old care experienced young people the chance to meet industry professionals and business leaders to find out about how they got into their careers and routes into different jobs. That person then becomes a contact for help or support in the future. 

Held in the garden of the Leaving Care team’s office in North Finchley, the event hosted guests from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, artsdepot, Bumblebee lettings, UKIE, the trade body for the games industry and BOOST, the organisation that provides employment and financial support in Barnet.

Support on the day was also provided by members of Onwards and Upwards, Barnet Council’s leaving care team.

“It was a very good session, very relaxed,” said Personal Adviser Mohima Bibi. “My young people enjoyed it and made some new contacts.  For some of them who have been badly hit by the pandemic it was meaningful for them to get out and simply be with other people. This was a big step.”

R, 25, learned about the range of different jobs in the games industry and is keen to run his passion into a career. “I learned there were opportunities I wouldn’t be able to get searching alone and that with good skills I can do what I set out to achieve. Aim high.”

S, 19, said: “It was useful and great. I’ve found the way forward for becoming a football coach.”

F, 21, said: “I enjoyed meeting people and learned how to look for work.”

Aspire Higher meets up every two months, to give young care experienced people aged 16-25 the opportunity to meet with professionals from different industries to learn about more fulfilling and higher-paid careers. Each network meeting is followed up with advice on how to write a CV, use LinkedIn and goal setting, provided by recruitment specialists Matrix, as well as support looking for entry level jobs, internships and apprenticeships from Boost Barnet.

Thanks so much for allowing me to speak yesterday! I really enjoyed it. The session was very informative and the diverse range of speakers brought a holistic look at careers,” Yeshua Carter, Executive Assistant, Ernst&Young

I found it motivational, inspirational and powerful. It helped show me how to move forward and break the boundaries between me and my fears,” Hejran Azami, a young attendees

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I was truly honoured to be part of such an inspirational evening. I loved hearing everyone’s journeys and hope that between us we can help some young people follow their dreams (even if they haven’t dreamt them yet!),”

Karen Emanuel, CEO of Key Production, one of the speakers at the first event

The session taught me to be open to alternative routes to your desired career. Skills are transferable. Commit to what makes you happy, it might take a while, but it’ll be worth it,”

Jennifer Mohammadi, care leaver and Live Unlimited trustee