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Steven Winterburn

Steven Winterburn, YEI Programme Co-ordinator. YEI is a programme designed to help young people in Darlington get into education, employment or training. It’s been running since 2016 and I joined in 2017. It’s funded by the European Social Fund and, for the last two years, our programme has been the most successful across the whole of the Tees Valley and has helped many young people into work.

No two days are ever the same. Early morning I’ll update our Facebook page with work and training opportunities then drive to the Youth Hub where I may be doing financial claims, profiling, meeting an employer or checking paperwork. Sometimes I’ll be helping someone find their birth certificate or open a bank account – all things that can be a barrier to finding work. Most of what I do has one underlying aim – to improve the career prospects of young people in Darlington.

Our team offers careers advice, help with applying for work and preparing for interviews and help to boost self-esteem and confidence. So far this year, I have met with EE and arranged for us to deliver a pre-contact centre course for young people, where they will be guaranteed an interview; arranged a recruitment event for Click Digital and St John of God and much more.

After lockdown we realised that seeing people face to face worked best for us, so last year we established Darlington Youth Hub. It has become a one stop shop with other agencies, including the Jobcentre and work coaches, making it easier for young people to get the help they need. We’ve also expanded our team so we can help even more people.

Working with young people, you get to know them, and seeing them a year or two later in the street and hearing how far they have progressed is what it is all about for me. I have always worked in employment and training, mostly with younger people, and how we work here in Darlington, with the Youth Hub, having close relations with the Jobcentre and treating each person as an individual works amazingly well – this type of success is not possible with a one size fits all approach.

Having flexibility has made our YEI programme into what it is, that’s why I love working for the council. Each day I go home with a smile on my face and wake up the following morning with that same smile!

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