Calvin’s Story – A young person’s view of their Head Start work experience

Calvin’s Story – A young person’s view of their Head Start work experience

In today’s child friendly Leeds blog post, Head Start success Calvin Rollins tells us how his life is moving forward thanks to the acclaimed work experience programme helping young people in Leeds back into work.

The Head Start work placement scheme, run in partnership between IGEN, Leeds City College and Leeds City Council, pairs up ambitious young people aged 18-24 who have been unemployed for more than six months with businesses in the city.

The six-week scheme aims to give young people the skills they need to prepare them for employment. Young people get experience of the workplace, a college qualification and could have travel expenses paid; while businesses gain manpower from an enthusiastic, ambitious young person.

Here’s what Calvin had to say…

“Calvin with his free bus pass”

“The first thing I want to say is the Head Start key workers really care about you and go the extra mile. I’d tell anyone aged 19 – 24 to ask about Head Start in the Job Centre if they’ve been out of work for six months.

“They took the time to get to know me as a person which is really important. Having someone work so closely with you is a massive help.

“I was made redundant in September 2013. I’d only been at the call centre a couple of months. I’d taken the job after leaving a public services course that wasn’t really for me.

“Before that my plan had been to do A-levels and go on to university, but I didn’t get the grades I needed. My school only gave me two weeks’ notice I had to leave. That bothered me; being asked to leave because I’d only just missed out on the grades needed.

“The year before that I’d had a medial knee ligament injury. I’d really enjoyed sport.  I was very active and played football on Saturday and rugby on Sunday. I’m humble but I’d say I was a good player. The injury ended both my football and rugby careers at the same time. I was never the same player again and gave up.

“Life goes on doesn’t it? The world isn’t going to stop just because of things like that and thanks to Head Start work is keeping me busy now.

“After the call centre being out of work wasn’t bad at first. I’d been out of work before and always managed to find work quickly, but this time was different. I was out of work for quite a while. At first I was optimistic but after six months it began to get stressful.

“I’m close to my family. They’re important to me and I felt guilty about relying on them while I was out of work, even though they always reminded me it wasn’t my fault.

“It was around the nine month mark I got involved with the Head Start programme. I was reluctant at first, but it was the best thing I ever did. I got a four week work placement at Leeds City Council. I worked with a lovely woman – Helen Collins. She was a big help.

“I found a routine again and started mentally managing my day. It made me feel like I had a purpose again and it wasn’t long before I had a permanent job at Premier Inn.

“Being back in work is helping me get on with my life and look to the future.

“I’m hoping to get my own place, but want to learn to drive first. The new job and money is hopefully going to help me learn how to drive and will help me be even more employable. I’d love to travel too – America, South America, China or Japan. I want to see the history in all those places. I can focus on things like that now.

“Anyone who is my age and has been out of work for six months should ask about Head Start in the Job Centre. I can’t recommend them enough. They really were a huge help.”

A big thanks to Calvin for sharing his Head Start story with us today!

If you’re an unemployed young people looking for help, you can get by contacting:, or on Twitter @HeadStart2014, or through the IGEN website:

If you have a business and you’d be interested in taking a young person like Stephen on, see: or Twitter @LCC_Business and @LCC_Employment

Are you looking for a young person to add energy to your workforce? Has work experience helped you get a head start in your career? Why not let us know your story on Twitter @child_leeds or by leaving a comment below…



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