Joy as pledge target is met for Own Grown

BUSINESS leaders and employers in 1066 Country are celebrating a momentous achievement after a campaign to get 1,066 pledges to help young people into work hit its target.

Last February representatives from the business community, Jobcentre Plus, Rother District and Hastings Borough Councils, and the Observer, met at Sussex Coast College to launch the year-long Own Grown initiative with the aim of helping young people aged 16-24 become more employable.

These included offering things like work placements, apprenticeships, help with interview techniques and CV writing.

Organisers set a target of 1,066 pledges to be made by February 2014 and, after 10 months of hard graft the target has been met, just weeks before the end of the campaign.

Cllr Peter Chowney, lead member for regeneration for Hastings Borough Council, said: “Young people are very important to the future of Hastings, so it’s vital that we make sure they have the right skills to help them into useful, rewarding jobs. That’s why the council has been committed to supporting this initiative by providing the day-to-day administration and coordination of 92 employers who have all made pledges. We are delighted that they have enabled Own Grown to hit the challenging target set by the partnership.”

Jay Wootten, from Hastings Direct, said: “It has been really good to interact with the community we serve by providing schools and colleges with an insight into the world of work. Through the business mentoring, CV writing and interview training sessions that Hastings Direct has provided, we know that people have found employment either with us or with other employers in the area. We are keen to continue this work in 2014, and hope to be part of more success stories.”

Rother District Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Maynard, said: “I’m delighted at the results that the Own Grown initiative has achieved in forging links between our businesses and our young people, who will be the business leaders of the future. It has been a huge success for all concerned, long may it continue!”

Brett McLean, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), East Sussex branch, said: “The fact that Own Grown has hit its target with weeks to spare shows the willingness of businesses to help young people. They are the employees and business owners of the future. Several businesses have taken on a young person for work experience, and then taken them on into employment, finding them to be excellent workers and team members.”

Dan Shelley, vice-principal of Sussex Coast College, said: “This innovative scheme arose from discussions between the college and the Observer Group newspapers, and it shows what can be achieved when people commit themselves to working together to address a long-standing problem in Hastings and Rother. We think Own Grown is the only scheme of its kind in the country – and we are now getting phone calls from all over England asking how we did it!”

The partnership aims to build on this success in 2014, by sustaining links between businesses and schools, and supporting employers who can offer work experience and apprenticeships.

For more details about the Own Grown campaign visit