The People’s mentoring hotline wants to “unleash the creative potential of young people”

For this week’s New Angle, we meet one youth-led organisation set on equipping underprivileged, unemployed young people to enter what can be fierce and competitive creative industries, with free, one-to-one mentoring sessions.

1 December 2021

A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.

This week, we speak to The People on its new creative mentoring hotline. Established as a youth-powered consultancy, The People have partnered with Freestar, an alcohol-free beer start-up, to deliver its mentoring hotline. Because of the start-up’s experiences in running a business and supporting themselves from the ground up, its team is taking calls from anyone young and unemployed every Friday afternoon. Freestar and The People, along with a collection of entrepreneurs, business leaders and industry heads, are running short and snappy one-to-one sessions for young people to talk through any type of business advice they might need. Here, we learn about why The People think younger generations are a future we’re not nearly investing enough in.

It’s Nice That: What about the creative industry are you hoping to change and why does it need changing?

The People: Young people have been hardest hit by unemployment caused by the pandemic. According to a recent study by the Co-op, “60 per cent of 13-25-year olds feel their generation will be permanently disadvantaged by the pandemic.” And if that wasn’t enough, young people from ethnic minorities and lower socio-economic backgrounds are even more adversely affected. During the pandemic, unemployment among BAME people has increased double the rate of white people. Our mission at The People is to unleash the creative potential of young people. We believe young people should be given the platform and opportunity to shine. That’s why we work with brands and partners to make sure the voices of young people are represented in the creative industries.

INT: What have you built, and how does it tackle these industry issues?

TP: Last year, when UK youth unemployment was the highest in 40 years, we partnered up with our friends Freestar, an award-winning non-alcoholic beer brand to launch the Hotline Mentoring scheme. The programme helps young people with free advice and guidance on CVs, creative portfolios and interview preparation every Friday. Since October 2020, the programme has provided 180 young people with more than 20 mentors over the course of 140+ hours. Most importantly, 19 young people have now found meaningful jobs. We have brought together 20 experienced mentors with a wealth of industry experience working for Adidas, Tesla, Propercorn, NFL, Bumble, Sipsmith, Channel 4, WPP, Dentsu, BBC and more. We believe talent is equally distributed, but opportunity isn’t. And we want to change this.

INT: What other organisations are out there like yours, and what sets yours apart?

TP: There are now lots of great mentoring programmes out like the Prince’s Trust, Media Trust and more. We are not there to replace these important services. In fact, some of our community have gained incredible value from these programmes. The Hotline is a more informal mentoring scheme built around the unique challenges of each mentee and at speed. Young people can simply sign up and get matched up with a professional mentor most relevant to their specific challenge in the same week. It’s the outcome of two mission-driven London start-ups deciding to act on the youth unemployment challenge. We set up The Hotline as a completely free service, without any government or corporate funding.

INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing?

TP: As start-ups, we are running this alongside the million other things happening every day. But we love it and always make time because it sits at the heart of our mission. The biggest challenge is making sure enough young people are aware of the mentoring scheme. So that they can take full advantage, connect with the right mentor and accelerate their progress.

INT: What can the creative industry do to support your mission?

TP: If you know anyone who would benefit from the mentoring programme, they can sign up here.

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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