First impressions count at Inspiring Young Men event

Young men from across Hackney attended an inspirational careers event at Young Hackney’s Forest Road Youth Hub on Tuesday 2 October.

Over 50 young people attended the event, coming from local secondary schools; City Academy, Stoke Newington, Hackney New School, Skinners and Swanlea.

The day saw 17 local professional men and entrepreneurs of all ages and from a range of backgrounds, sharing their stories and offering informal career advice on their field of expertise in a bid to motivate and galvanise young men.

Guest speakers included company director Richard Blackburn, who set up his own multi million pound recruitment company, after leaving school with only a few GCSEs. Alongside Firefighter Richard Reid, entrepreneur Matt Lo and Reg Amoah social responsibility manager for charity ELBA.

Matt Lo, Founder and CEO of health and fitness company Outrivals, said: “It’s good for young people to know there are different options in life, and to feel that they can be open minded when thinking about their future. I hope young people can learn today that you will get far with a good work ethic, and that you shouldn’t be afraid to dream, as dreams can take you a long way.”

The young audience listened to speeches and took part in discussion groups to talk informally with all of the speakers. Which also included Hackney Council officers, apprentices, film industry professionals, tech experts and people from other fields who all had an inspirational story to tell.

Ben Fox, Firefighter, who was formerly a London Fire Service Cadet, but had many other jobs before deciding to join the service, said: “Days like today are great for finding out there are many different job roles out there, in our case it’s not just a fire engine rushing past on the way to an emergency, there are actually loads of other things going on behind that. Though you may start with one job, there are no straight career paths in life, so even if you are unsure, you may start in one place but it can lead you to somewhere you love.”

The speakers gave valuable insights into their chosen career paths, talking about their real life experiences, successes and failures, which all helped them grow and achieve. Young people discussed their dreams and aspirations and saw how volunteering and hobbies could be key to getting the future careers they want. The groups also talked about the importance of first impressions, what employers are looking for, and even practiced handshakes and eye contact.

Mahin Ahmed, a Year 9 pupil from Swanlea School said: “It’s been great hearing from different people who choose different paths for their careers. It’s great to learn about how they made mistakes, but learnt from them and that it doesn't matter if you made a mistake or not because you will learn a thing or two.”

Juliet Alexander, Careers, WRL & Enterprise Manager at Stoke Newington School said: It was a great opportunity for our young boys to meet such inspirational men and hear about their journeys. I think it helped to motivate them to do better in their studies. It was wonderful the way these busy professionals took time out to enthuse and inform our students, many of whom do not have strong male role models. It was great to have professionals with such a variety of stories to tell. Our boys also really liked meeting a former Stoke Newington student who had left school with only a few GCSEs, gone on to study a BTEC locally and now had a full time job as a gas fitter. Congratulations to the entire team, we will be back next year.”


Pauline Adams, Head of Young Hackney
It’s important for Hackney’s young people to hear about a diverse range of careers, from setting up your own business to working in the emergency services. Events like this give young people the opportunity not only to network with professionals but to think more widely about what they can achieve in their futures and feel inspired. I would like to thank all those who volunteered their time and expertise on the day.
Pauline Adams, Head of Young Hackney

For more information on Young Hackney and to see what other events they are hosting you can visit: www.younghackney.org. Or follow @younghackney on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. If you want to find out more about volunteering with young people, contact xanthippi.karkantou@hackney.gov.uk.