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"I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible" - Danny Barnes
In 2012, while unemployed himself, his daughter inspired him to set up a community project in London called Acknowledging Youths.
Acknowledging Youths community interest company, was set up to raise aspirations and make a positive contribution to the lives of young people in London and provide education and training and employment.
He’s overcome major obstacles in his life and wants to help others do so too.
Whenever I tell people my story, they’re inspired to change their lives. I’ve been in prison myself, I’ve been in gangs, I’ve been homeless. My sister died of leukaemia at 14, I grew up not knowing my mum. Because of this is how I’m able to engage with young people and I know exactly what are going through, having beeng through the same experience.
Whilst at first he couldn’t find funding for such an endeavour, he wanted to raise the aspirations of young people in inner London who were unemployed and didn’t expect to get work because they lacked both skills and opportunities.
He wanted to make a positive contribution to the lives of those young people, by increasing their self-esteem and confidence, giving them new skills and ultimately helping them become more employable.
Danny started Acknowledging Youths by working in the local community to find out more about what local young people needed to support them – he carried out focus groups with local people to work out what he needed to do. Acknowledging Youths now offers young people one to one support to help them identify where they could get work, with writing their CV and training in interview techniques. They also offer the chance for young people to volunteer within the organisation so they can gain valuable work experience.
When a young person comes to us, they might not be ready to go into a job, so we ask them what they want to achieve, work out what we can do for them and then help them to reach their goals.
Danny recognises that some young people have the potential to start their own businesses. To help them get started, he set up an Enterprise Club in partnership with NatWest. This offers young people the opportunity do a business course to make sure they’re on the right track and have the best chance to make it on their own.
Acknowledging Youths is going from strength to strength, now running a Community Interest Company staffed by volunteers with Danny as CEO. Their initiative has been recognised with several contracts from the DWP to work in Westminster, Chelsea, Kensington, Hammersmith, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Southwark and looking to expand in entire London.
I know our approach works and I’m determined to carry on and show that it can be done.
Acknowledging Youths has worked with juvenile ex-offenders, drug dealers, gang members young people in care, and pupil referral units – for young people who are not able to attend mainstream education, often due to exclusion. AY has engaged with over 4000 young people to date.
Youth unemployment is the biggest single issue facing this country today and throwing money at the problem won’t solve it.