The Kickstarter & The Employer…

There Are Two Sides To Every Story

The Kickstarter & The Employer... There Are Two Sides To Every Story. Chris Doggart and Leah Jones, the people behind the story

Kickstarting My Career

A story of ups and downs in the face of 2020

Written by Leah Jones

Finding jobs for young people had started to feel impossible, with more than 200,000 under 25s out of work for more than six months since the pandemic, and I was about to give up all hope.

Like many others, I found myself out of work and struggled to find anything through the year (the one that shall not be named but sounds like plenty-plenty) and early 2021. I was at the point in my life where I wanted to start working towards a career, so I completed a marketing course online, watched hours of YouTube videos on tips and tricks and listened to podcasts from experienced people within the industry. However when I went on numerous of platforms to finally apply for jobs, I was greeted with “no jobs available”. Well great, what was I suppose to do now? Even when a job did pop up, it was one of those “Assistant/junior jobs that had next to no pay but wanted a minimum of 3 years experience and the knowledge of someone who has been in the industry for a lifetime! What a flawed system.

I decided to sign up with the Jobcentre to see if they could help me find a good starting point.
To my frustration and disappointment, I found out that the assistance the Jobcentre offered was in the form of weekly calls that were ONLY 10 minutes long. Nowhere near long enough for the coach to go through numerous listings, check them by me, and then send over details to take a further look. By the end of the 10 minutes, I might get one application (or up to three if I was very lucky!) to look at, which I then had to hope they were somewhat close to what I was looking for. One day my coach asked if I had heard of the Kickstart scheme and began to explain how it all worked. I told them I was interested, and my coach said they would get back to me soon.

The kickstart scheme was rolled out on the 2nd of September 2020 and has just been extended for another three months until the 17th of December 2021. The Scheme aims to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

Then it happened, after 8 applications, 7 phone calls and 41 days, I won the golden ticket!
The stars aligned, and my coach found a job for a Marketing Assistant role at a company called Beings, which they found on the final day of applications.
I was nervous. I had no experience as a marketing assistant but had always wanted to give it a go. I just hoped they would accept an interview with me.
The next day I got an email from Magali Collin, offering me an interview for the role! I could not quite believe my luck, it was beginning to feel like all my efforts were finally paying off.
After staring at the walls of my room for months in a fever-dream, thinking that there was no hope, it was time to prepare a plan. I think I was on plan T at this point or was it plan S? I lost track of how many plans I made at this point, as Covid was not plan-friendly, or anything-friendly come to think of it. I might finally have an opportunity to start working towards my career and engage with people in person again!
Within an hour of my second interview, I received the call from Magali offering me the job! I said “YES!” before she even had the opportunity to finish her sentence. Magali laughed and finished saying she was going to give me some time to think about it, but I knew that I did not need that time as I was ready to start yesterday!

The Kickstart role gives people like me the opportunity to learn new skills, experience the industry and get back on our feet and be better prepared when applying for jobs in the future.
Since starting my role here at Beings in April 2021, I have had many opportunities and worked with some of the friendliest and funniest people you could ever imagine. From organising social media channels, day-to-day Office Management, revamping the website, and pestering Chris Doggart every chance I get with tonnes of questions.
While working at Beings I’ve been able to attend conventions at ExCeL London, masterclasses and conventions online and get to see the behind the scenes of a working production set at Kennington Film Studios. All of which have provided me with the opportunity to meet people within the industry and make connections that I hope to carry with me to future roles.

I love working for a company that not only cares about its staff but the planet as well. Beings is a company that will always try its best to make the right decision and help a good cause, from planting trees for attendees to using bamboo in the loo. The ethics and ethos of a company are essential for me, and I couldn’t be happier than where I am right now.

As you may have already guessed, I am pleased to say that I was offered to work at Beings permanently after my 6months were up in October.

My advice to those who are thinking about applying for a kickstart role is to go for it. You might end up in a job you love, surrounded by a team that you wouldn’t change for anything.

And to those of you who are considering the Kickstart initiative for your company, I would recommend not thinking twice and help kickstart someone’s career!🎉

Please share this blog and see if we can inspire another young person to become a Kickstarter or business to help the initiative!🤞

Kickstarting Our Business

A story of hope and triumph in the face of adversity

Written by Chris Doggart

As a business with a 10 year history of working in the live event industry, the pandemic threatened to destroy our world, but we got lucky. Our reputation as experts in event broadcasting meant we were perfectly placed to support the explosion in virtual events. Far from being destroyed, we had to address the challenges of growing pains and workout how to scale the business at speed.

We are eternally grateful for the trust our clients have shown in us and the support our network of partners and freelancers have provided during this period of huge disruption. It has always been important for us to do what we can to give back and to support the industry and community we inhabit. Our team grew by 400% to cope with the explosion in demand and we were able to purchase 2,000 freelancer days at a time when their phones had stopped ringing. When Rishi Sunak announced the Kickstarter scheme we saw another opportunity to provide further help to the local community whilst also easing the strain we were experiencing … a classic “win win” scenario? We were cautious in our optimism, with the phrase “If it seems too good to be true it probably is” ringing in our ears we were keen to find out more.

The scheme was box fresh new and there was little information about how it would work. We did some Googling (other search engines may exist but client loyalty prevents us from experimenting with lesser providers of information) and as a small business looking to offer a couple of roles we needed to find a Kickstart Gateway company to support our application, we chose Kickstart Jobs UK, which subsequently became Sutton Croft. We completed a very straight forward form and despatched our application for grant funding to support the hiring of a Marketing Assistant.

The level of commitment required was minimal, the role needed to be a new role that wouldn’t be replacing / reducing an existing role and we had to provide formal training to help the young jobseeker find long term work. In return the scheme would fund 25 hours work at national minimum wage, pay National Insurance contributions and provide a contribution to admin and training costs of £1,500. Still sounding a little too good to be true? Keen to make this a meaningful employment opportunity we decided to make the role full-time (35hrs a week) and to use the National Living Wage as our guide for what we should offer to pay, both of which added incremental cost that the business carried.

At this stage we had no idea of the volume of applications we would receive or the level of experience the applicants may have. The scheme is open to jobseekers from 16 to 24 years and there is a huge difference between these two extremes. Would we be receiving applicants with zero work experience, minimal qualifications and too young to drive (a bit of an issue for a business in a rural location) or 24 year old graduates with professional qualifications and an amount of work experience under their belt? With reports of massive youth unemployment would we be drowning in a deluge of CV’s or would being based out of town on the Surrey Hampshire borders be a problem?

We had no need to worry about drowning in CVs! Having completed the forms on 12th January we were told a decision would take approximately 1 month. 16th February we received the good news that our application had been approved. Hoorah! When can they start? Hold your horses! First an online grant agreement needed to be completed and then the specifics of the job description articulated, all completed by 3rd March. Brace yourself … any moment now we will have an inbox full of CV’s … 4 weeks later … yippee … our first applicant!

If you are anything like me you will know the trauma of “finding the perfect picnic spot”. As you seek the unachievable perfect picnic spot you have in your mind, you can never plump for the first spot you find. It might be great, it may be the best option but it will involve a level of compromise, it won’t be quite perfect. Do you accept that compromise at the first spot you find or carry on and discover it was the best spot when you have visited 10 more “less good” options?

So when, after only 15 mins of Leah’s first interview I wanted to offer her the job, you will get a sense of how perfect she was for the role. I approach most interviews with the expectation that the person I am about to meet will be the answer to all our prayers, the perfect solution to every challenge we face. It rarely happens, but when it does, you know it at once. Being the consummate professional (no tittering at the back) I played it cool and we went through the process of having a second interview to validate our initial assessment.

Now before we get too carried away, Leah is the good news story, in full disclosure and for impartiality not all kickstarters have played out like this. We had one kickstarter who joined after Leah and left after 3 months to follow a career in surfing and a third web developer role which we advertised and which we had zero applicants for. What we learned is that the experience of hiring via the Kickstart programme is that it is a very curated experience. As opposed to being contacted directly by (or being able to reach out directly to) those looking for work, there is a team at the Department of Work and Pensions whose job it is to filter and match applicants to roles. So although initially a little disappointing not to have many applicants, when we did get them they were well suited to the role, with relevant attributes and pre-vetted. Essentially the DWP checked out all the possible picnic spots and saved us the trouble.

20th April Leah joined Beings, 99 days after we submitted our first application. 6 months later and we are delighted to say we have employed Leah on a full-time basis. Her kickstarter experience was a positive one for both of us, her aptitude, enthusiasm, confidence, energy and desire to learn meant she has become an invaluable part of the team. In addition to her core role as Marketing Assistant she has now also taken on the role of office manager and will no doubt be taking over from me as Managing Director within the year.

To those considering whether to take advantage of this opportunity, I would say unequivocally, do it! It may take a while and be frustrating when you don’t get an instant response, not everyone will work out but when it does it feels like you have the golden ticket.

If you’re thinking of applying for the Kickstart Scheme grant is easy and can be done by either:

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