Hosted by the Wilderness Foundation UK, (based in Chatham Green, Chelmsford) The TurnAround Project aims to help young people who have experienced personal or social problems change their lives using the positive power of nature.

The TurnAround Project was founded in 2007 and focusses on risk factors such as truanting, drug and alcohol misuse, youth offenders, poor family relationships or leaving long term care. It works with some of the most vulnerable youth aged 15-21 in the local community and has a successful track record of 83% of graduates entering further education or employment.

The three day employability workshop enabled the young people to think about the world of work in their future and the skills and qualities needed to maintain a job. Work ethic, motivation, career brainstorming and job applications were the topics most focused on, though the workshop involved a variety of tasks such as team challenges, questionnaires, feedback sessions, individual challenges and self-reflection.
Rosie Carpenter, who co-ordinates the TurnAround Project commented, “I have seen the group realise that they have skills which are transferable to the workplace. This course has given them a real confidence boost and I know that it will have a positive impact on their transition into the workplace”.
Stef, volunteer and previous TurnAround participant, says “I can really see the benefit of a specific three day employability workshop. Since I’ve completed TurnAround I have applied to university and am currently in my last year to become a social worker. Having the opportunity for the group to take part in these workshops gives them great skills to help them in the future”.
When asked about their favourite part of the workshop, one participant commented “I most enjoyed the drum stalk activity. We were outside for this and whilst blindfolded we had to listen to the sound of a drum and move towards it. We learnt how to trust each other, how to work in a team, how to communicate and how to focus. To some people this activity would probably seem a little strange but when you think about all the skills we learnt it makes sense as we know that we can do this and they are great skills to have in the workplace”.
Another young person, Brandon, commented, “The most interesting part of the course for me was learning what my natural skills are and what jobs would suit me. I learnt that I am good at linguistics and that there are many jobs that I had never thought of that I could therefore be good at and enjoy. I learnt that I have lots of strengths and that with help I can do more than I thought I was capable of”.
As well as the employability workshop the group also takes part in two wilderness trails, monthly day long workshops, monthly social evenings and weekly one to one mentoring. This current group of participants will graduate from the project in November 2016 and project staff will support them to ensure they access training, education or employment as suitable for each young person. As part of funding from the Dulverton Trust, graduates will also be able to apply for a scholarship to help them with future plans for education, skill based training or even start up business costs.
The project is also part funded by the Police Crime Commissioners Office. Lindsay Whitehouse, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, commended the project by saying “This project is really worthwhile. It using nature and respect for the environment to help young people get their lives back on track and learn new skills which enhance their employment prospects and enables them to make a positive overall contribution to society”.
The TurnAround Project will run again for the eighth cohort from January 2017.
We will be taking referrals for our next intake of young people from October 2016 so please do contact us if you would like to refer someone. Additionally we are also always looking for volunteer mentors so please register your interest with us.
Contact details:
0300 123 3073 or rosie@wildernessfoundation.org.uk