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Inspiring Future Generations
From the end of April 2019, staff from within UKVI Immigration & Protection based in Liverpool, in conjunction with Civil Service Local North West, ran a six-week project entitled ‘Inspiring the Next Generation’ with year 10 students from Maricourt High School in Maghull. The project aimed to support students who ordinarily may not go on to further education with valuable work and life skills.

Neil Turner as project lead overcame a few obstacles and persevered, with a little luck, to ensure the project became reality. This despite some bumps along the way, including two schools withdrawing, having to obtain appropriate clearances for students to enter the buildings and acquiring suitable accommodation for each date, He recruited a cross-departmental team consisting of: Fay McKinlay, Lauren Calderhead and Faye McGuire from Asylum Operations Mersey; Jonathan Haake and Adam Tinsley from Refused Case Management and Christine Sherratt from the Liverpool PNC Team.

The team’s aim was to build confidence and empower the students to think positively about life after school, thinking about how social media might impact employability and how to be prepared to enter the work place.

The students attended the Capital Building in Liverpool one day a week over a six week period and partook in a variety of sessions with I&P staff. With the support of colleagues, the team were able to show the students a wide variety of work within the Home Office including Immigration and Enforcement, Refused Case Management, Euro and Settlement, Crown Commercial Services and EU Settled Status Customer Resolution Centre.

The sessions started with twelve excited students and a presentation from former Maricourt High student and Chief Immigration Officer, Joe Shirley, who outlined his career progression since leaving school. With bags of personality and scouse humour, he won the students over, who were impressed at the teams specialised equipment and their enforcement vans. This was followed with multiple visits from staff sharing life stories and invaluable advice. From Heather Laing (Director of Asylum Operations) depicting her leadership journey that started straight from school to Diane Burton (Team Leader at RCM) sharing her journey from Maricourt to management. Each week was kept unique and engaging. The organising team led the workshops surrounding the visits, and using drama games, challenges and informal chats, the team were able to contextualise the visits and talks to support their learning of key skills for the future.

After 6 weeks of dropping eggs, building paper bridges, filling in a hashtag wall, celebrating three birthdays, sharing fears and future hopes, the team got to know the students well. And even after putting them each through a Civil Service mock interview, they were delighted to receive feedback from the students on how engaging the project was. They wished that the days “had lasted longer” and were impressed with how the staff “were able to relate to us”.

The project ended with a celebration party and a review of the project. The team were joined by Maria Riding (RCM) and John Malone (Crown Commercial Service) to acknowledge and recognise the students’ achievements. With certificates given, selfies taken and full stomachs (yes, there was cake), the students headed home. For the I&P team, it was a pleasure to engage with a local school and show them the many ways that we navigate through adulthood and reassure them that we are all still learning.

Neil and his team would like to thank all colleagues who shared their time or their work space over the six weeks to deliver such a diverse and worthwhile project.

Neil Turner
Maricourt Catholic High School
Hall Lane
L31 3DZ
© 2020 Maricourt Catholic High School