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Providing opportunities to learn, grow and belong

Maddy Ware and John King

17 Oct 2022

Akram’s journey to become a community leader

Prior work experience, or specifically lack thereof, continues to be a barrier to employment for young people. This is especially the case for young people from multicultural backgrounds who must compete with cultural biases and other barriers (VMC, 2021). In this current climate, young people struggle to gain employment without previous paid employment experience and therefore often get into volunteer or internship roles to build their skill set. However, a lot of intern and volunteer roles are largely unpaid which leaves young people at risk of exploitation and therefore continue to struggle to gain paid employment experience.

Many young people also lack mentors or role models who can provide guidance or inspiration to strive for improvements in education and career pathways. Mentors and role models can also provide insights and help broaden the horizons of young people still navigating their education or employment journey.

The Huddle engages with young people through a variety of program options which are considered “soft entry points”. This provides an opportunity for staff to observe the growth of young people and to identify the talent, skills and qualities they possess.

By encouraging those talented young people to participate in more structured courses and programs with The Huddle, young people are exposed to a variety of networks and opportunities where they can further develop their skills in safe and supported environments.

Young people who succeed in programs like Game Changers, which have tangible and visible real-world outcomes, not only serve as inspiration for their peers, but also provide a template on how young people can develop valuable skills and experiences while serving as positive community role models.

Akram began his journey as a participant with The Huddle in 2019, taking part in our True North Mentoring and Huddle Up! programs.

I found the programs interesting. I got to meet the North Melbourne players during True North. They were really open and down to earth. They made us feel involved and kept encouraging us to participate and think outside the box.- Akram

Since that time, he has also attended regular Study Squad sessions, for education support, and in 2021 registered for Game Changers, our employment program.

The employment opportunities were appealing. So was the involvement of other organisations like Young Australian People and Ubuntu Project. They all provided good resources and connections which could lead to other opportunities after the program. I Highly recommend Game Changers – just make sure you attend all the sessions. If you miss out on sessions, you’ll miss out on something good!- Akram

Following years of connections with multiple program coordinators and volunteers, Akram had been able to display many of the qualities and traits required to contribute his skills and expertise in several our regular programs. In 2022, Akram was offered a casual role as a Program Support Officer in our Huddle Up! program.

It is really good working with The Huddle. It’s a great team and I enjoy the programs that we run (Huddle Up! Junior). I love seeing the kids progressing and having fun. I also like working with other groups in collaborative projects.- Akram

Akram was also able to further develop his project management and transferable skills as a Huddle Holidays Project Officer, a role which was created for successful participants within Game Changers, whose community project ideas were deemed appropriate and feasible by a volunteer panel of experts from the YMCA, City of Melbourne and the Melbourne Youth Alliance.

Akram worked in partnership with two other Game Changers participants, The Huddle’s Careers Coordinator and Education Coordinators, North Melbourne Football Club staff, and volunteers to create ‘The Race’, an amazing race for young people aged between 13 and 18 which contained a series of personal development and wellbeing themed challenges and activities.

Akram and his group were responsible for the design of the project, budgeting, creating the marketing and promotion strategy (including design of all collateral), registration of participants and delivery of the activity as part of The Huddle’s Winter Huddle Holidays.

It was pretty difficult, not going to lie, but I enjoyed doing multiple tasks, working in a team and learning how to manage a project. It was great to put a whole lot of skills I didn’t know I had into a project and completing something meaningful.- Akram

Throughout the project, Akram took on a leadership role with his team and was able to keep his group on task and accountable. He was able to ensure tasks were allocated fairly and according to skills, abilities and availability of those within his group. He also provided regular communication and feedback to those in his working group and the staff at The Huddle who coordinate Huddle Holidays.

Akram’s journey from a participant in the Huddle’s social inclusion programs, through to accessing more individualised education and career support and, finally, into employment is an example of how young people learn, grow and belong through the various initiatives provided by The Huddle. Akram is a young leader within the North Melbourne community, he provides inspiration to others and has made significant personal and professional developments by taking advantage of the opportunities available to him through The Huddle.

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