Over 250 young people facing disadvantage in the capital will be mentored by world class athletes, as part of a transformational employability programme led by the charity of double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes and delivered in partnership with Vi-Ability.

Getting Back on Track will unlock the attitudes and behaviours needed to thrive in the workplace and empower young people to make other positive life choices. In addition to mentoring from Olympic, Paralympic and world class athletes, young people will take part in work experience opportunities at 50 London businesses.

The eight-month programme will initially support young people in Greenwich, Bexley, Bromley, Southwark and Lewisham, with the aim to deliver sustained employment for some of the capital’s most disadvantaged young people.

Getting Back on Track is being delivered in partnership with Vi-Ability, London South East Colleges, Shooters Hill College and Lewisham Southwark College, with funding provided by Greater London Authority through the European Social Fund.

The programme will be officially launched during a reception at City Hall on Tuesday 31 October, with keynote speeches from Joanne McCartney AM (Deputy Mayor of London), Dame Kelly Holmes (Founder and President at Dame Kelly Holmes Trust) and remarks from Kelly Davies (Founder and Chair of Vi-Ability).

Dame Kelly Holmes, said: “We believe as a charity that every young person –no matter what their background or current circumstances – has the potential to lead a positive life, which includes being able to enjoy career success.

“One of the biggest things we hear from industry is that young people arrive with a lack of soft skills, which leads to challenges with performance and retention. Our trained athlete mentors have the proven ability to unlock the attitudes and behaviours needed to be successful in the workplace, which includes traits such as confidence, motivation, determination and resilience.

“Employers who recruit from our programmes are consistently impressed by their talent and focus, despite not always having the best start in life. Most importantly, our young people find themselves being given opportunities and progression that they might once never have thought possible.”

Joanne McCartney AM, said: “Deciding whether to continue with education at the age of 16 can be a difficult decision, and we know that many students are unsure about which path to take. All young people deserve the chance for a bright future, and The Getting Back on Track partnership provides a new way of working which will equip them with vital employment skills and opportunities, should they decide college is not for them. 

“This is one of many fantastic employment and skills projects funded by London’s share of the England European Social Fund programme.  It hasn’t been confirmed whether any new funding will take its place after Brexit, and I urge Government to take steps to ensure there is no gap in support to the young Londoners who need it most.”

Kelly Davies commented: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to deliver Getting Back on Track which sees some of the best elements of our award-winning ‘Run the Club’ programme being combined with Dame Kelly Holmes Trust’s ‘Get on Track’ programme. Through Getting Back on Track we’re hoping to make a real difference to young people’s lives and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it develops.”

How to Get Involved

As a young person... If you’re a young person who has recently come out of college education and you think you would benefit from ‘Getting Back on Track’, please email courses@vi-ability.org, or call 01492 583555.

As an employer... We would love to hear from any local and regional employers in or near Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark to get involved with ‘Getting Back on Track’.

We are looking for employers who can offer work experience placements, or identify entry-level roles which might be on offer to the young people when they have finished their work placement.

To find out more information about what it entails to be an employer on the ‘Getting Back on Track’ programme, please contact Elly Virgo, Senior Area Development Manager – South on ellyv@damekellyholmestrust.org