As part of preparing our young people for independence, I arranged a visit to Leeds British Gas Smart Metering Centre in Armley. The purpose was for the young people to experience:

  • seeing people at work within a work place;
  • what British Gas is and what British Gas does; and
  • learning about different careers.

We arrived at the Centre and was greeted by Raz and Chris, the two British Gas Employees who were running the session. All the young people had to sign in and were given a visitors pass to wear, and after an introduction and health and safety briefing we were taken into a room.

Firstly, the young people had to share their thoughts on what they knew about British Gas. They all said the cute penguin and flying cars in relation to the TV adverts! The two workers discussed types of jobs available at British Gas and got the young people thinking about what they enjoy doing now and their thoughts on future jobs.

One of the young people stated that she would be a teacher as she corrects everyone’s spellings. The group agreed and all felt she would become a teacher. Another young person stated she would be a PE teacher or a physio therapist as she loves anything to do with sports, whilst a third young person stated that she would like to be an artist as she likes to spend time drawing and creating.

One young person said he would like to be a mechanic, but everyone in the room suggested he would make a good politician!

We were given a tour of the work place and Raz and Chris informed the group of the different jobs people were doing, and showed us the café and computer games room. The staff talked about a good work environment and what to look for in a work place when looking for a job. The staff also discussed incentives and getting the group to discuss why incentives are a good idea.

After the tour the group had to do a paper activity – the aim of the task was to see who would give it a go and who would decide they couldn’t do it at all. I was happy to see everyone had a go! The objective of the task and discussion following the task was about always trying to think of how you can do something rather than think you can’t, and that your mind-set is very important.

The group then looked at an example of a good CV and a poor CV and had to discuss the differences. The group split into pairs with one group looking at what an employer looks for in a person who has come for a job, and the other group had to write down qualities they have as a person if going for a job. Both groups presented what they had looked at to everyone in the room.

The group discussions ended with a discussion around emails and how to make your email name professional and not use silly names, which is very important when applying for jobs.

Throughout the session the young people kept referring to Wilbur the penguin or pointing out Wilbur if they saw him throughout the work building. Chris asked if they would like a penguin each. They all said yes and he said he would contact London and try and get some. Big happy smiles about this!

The VASSTEL group provided some feedback in regard to the session they were involved in:

  • The session was good, explained well.
  • The tour was really good seeing people working and seeing the office.
  • We have learnt about the different jobs there is to do at British gas and how many jobs there are. There are more jobs than you realise.
  • Engaged well in the paper activity this was well, good we will do it to our friends. Chis and Raz engaged well with us.
  • Seeing a good CV and a poor CV was good, helpful and fabulous and learning about your name in your email address.
  • Oreos were delicious and its mint we are getting penguins from London.

They all said to make the session longer (I explained to them it was meant to be longer and that it was my suggestion of 1.5hrs). The group stated they would definitely come again and yes, it would be good for other young people to do too.

The young people’s group VASSTEL would like to take this opportunity to say a special ‘Thank you’ to Chris and Raz at the Leeds British Gas Smart Metering Centre.

Alison Strodder-MurphyLeeds and Yorkshire Placement Support Worker