Project information

Breaking barriers to employment & building futures

Employers are looking for soft skills in new recruits but not finding them. We will work with 20 disadvantaged, unemployed young people in North London (NEETs) over six months, and show that, given the opportunity to develop these work skills, life chances improve at every level.

March 2013 - November 2013

Charity information

Barrier Breakers Foundation

Barrier Breakers Foundation logo
  • Need


    Research and employment figures show that young people are finding it increasingly hard to get into work. For the disadvantaged and marginalised it’s hardest. Business leaders fear a whole generation does not have the right employability skills, such as attitude, communication, & teamworking, and will be deemed unemployable. These skills are not taught in school, but are needed more than ever.


    Using a tried & tested soft skills development approach (BBM), this pilot will show that NEETs can quickly improve their employability skills. We will track progress of 20 young people over the course of 6 months, produce quantitative and qualitative data of development, provide individual assessments to assist participants into employment, use the feedback from the young people to develop materials, and produce a report of all data.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To develop the soft skills of 20 young people, not in education, employment or training (NEETs)


    » Run group workshops (6)
    » Provide one-to-one coaching sessions (20)
    » Establish online questionnaires and activities

    Success will be taking at least 75% of the cohort throughout the entire process (attending at least 5 of the 6 workshops, 1 coaching session, and participating in online activities

    Aim 2

    Provide evidence of development


    » Track progress of all participants
    » Produce data of progress, so individual participants can provide evidence to potential employers of soft skills capabilities
    » Produce overall data of development, to determine efficacy of the pilot
    » Produce final report

    Success will be producing BBM data to demonstrate the outcome of the pilot, support the employability of each participant, and aid the development of the project

    Aim 3

    Develop project materials, with the feedback of the young people


    » Establish online and offline feedback process during and after pilot

    Success will be designing a start to end feedback process that engages all participants, and results in materials tailored to NEETs

  • Impact


    The project will result in a programme that can be replicated by others, with materials tailored to NEETs, that supports the development of employability skills and provides evidence of progress to each participant for them to use when seeking employment. We will track all participants 3 months after the project to determine the impact of the project. Success will be that no participant who has completed the process is NEET, and all will have a higher level of self-reported personal well-being.


    We are keen to not only accept ‘easy’ candidates, so there’s a risk that the participants may not engage fully in the process. We have dealt with this by designing a programme that grabs attention and quickly demonstrates to participants what the benefits of engaging will be. Also, by involving participants in the design they have some ownership of the content and process. In addition, when recruiting we will ensure there are back-up candidates to replace any late drop outs.


    We will send monthly updates to donors by email, and the final report will be available on the website upon completion of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £10,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £2,400 Trainers fees Lead + 2 assistant trainers (6 workshops)
      £1,000 Coaches fees Coaches (20 sessions)
      £3,000 Co-ordinator fee 30 days planning, recruiting & executing
      £600 Events cost Venue hire and refreshments
      £500 Travel Participants travel expenses
      £500 Online materials Developement of quizzes etc
      £800 Data management Data collection, collation and report writing
      £1,200 Administration Office and admin costs
  • Background


    Haringey, north London, is the 13th most deprived borough in the country. The council recognises that youth unemployment is a serious problem - “young people (under 25) need to be a major priority,” - as are the number of NEETs, the 2500 young people whose status is unknown, and the children who are described as pre-NEET. The Tottenham riots in 2011 came after Haringey Council closed 8 of its 13 youth clubs, while knife crime and gang violence is on the rise.


    The 20 young people will be the direct beneficiaries of the project. Because they'll be involved in designing the programme they'll be ambassadors for it among their peers, & we'll have an improved offering for subsequent cohorts, whether run by us or others. The assistant trainers we'll use will be trained to be leaders during this process, so they'll be ready to run the project in future. By reducing youth unemployment, this project will benefit the wider community in Haringey and beyond

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Founded 2000, Barrier Breakers is based in Haringey. Since then we've worked with many individuals, organisations & agencies in the borough, delivering high-quality programmes. Our soft skills development approach, BBM (Barrier Breakers Methodology) won the national Performance Hub prize in 2007, in recognition of its value to 3rd sector work. We've worked primarily within the criminal justice system, but believe, given current problems, we've now a broader role to play supporting young people

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Penelope Tobin MA

    Founder / Company Secretary, creator of BBM and main trainer, who will oversee the design and delivery of the programme

    Judith Cherry MBA

    Trustee / Equalities and diversity consultant, who will ensure all materials, systems and processes are inclusive and engaging.

    Guy Griffiths B.Eng (Hons)

    Executive and life coach / Barrier Breakers trainer, who will co-ordinate and oversee the coaching element.