Throughout the last week, Cressida Dimmock, Corporate Responsibility and Community Manager at ASOS.com has been running a Get Started in Fashion programme the program at The Civic. She has been running similar courses in London for three years now. Since, she has developed the program and brought it to Barnsley, where they are now the second biggest employer; second only to BMBC.
She said that ‘here, ASOS have created a program that shows that there are many sides to fashion; not just being a model or a photographer. We wanted to show that young people can get involved in the industry through many different ways. We run the program via ASOS Marketplace which is almost like a fashion ebay; where people can sell their own designs or upcycled clothes.’
Throughout the week, the team of young people learned how to produce mood boards and each member sourced an item of clothing from a local charity shop with a budget of £10 and upcycled them; changing the garment in to something completely new a saleable, by adding trims, reshaping or embellishing. Following this, the group also learned how to photoshoot the garments and load them on ASOS Marketplace enabling them to sell them and produce copy sheets for on-line sales and advertising.
Another day course involved a trip to ASOS and a module on CV writing and demonstration of the variety of jobs there is on site. There the team met a guy who worked his way up from a ‘picker’ to a team leader in just five months.
The course which was funded by ASOS, took place in The Civic and was run in conjunction with The Prince’s Trust, whose aim is to support those who are unemployed or not in education or training and to move them forward into a positive outcome; either via various courses or with development mentors.
Steph Shiel’s works with the Trust and has helped facilitate the course throughout the week. She explained that ‘one way that we do this is to work with Expert Delivery Partners such as ASOS, to be able hold these kinds of programs and help these young people move forward.’
She went on to say that ‘following the course, each person here will be paired with a mentor and will get progression support for up to three months and we will provide continuous advice and development throughout that period.’
Each of the young people who attended the course came from different backgrounds. Some had already had prior experience in fashion; one was in the middle of starting up her own business and all were unemployed and between the ages of 16 and 25 years.
Sarah Heald had already worked briefly within the fashion industry but found herself unemployed as of late last year. Since then she has started producing knitted and sewn accessories and toys with her mother with the idea of selling then online in the near future. Of the course she said, ‘the course is a great way of engaging young people in fashion and the idea of it as a potential career.’ When I asked her what she got from the course, she explained that ‘the course made her realise that she likes working with people and that the work that The Prince’s Trust does has inspired me to work with young people and become a Young Ambassador for them.’
Sadie O’Connor is already developing her own line of hand-painted fashion and accessories inspired by rockabilly culture and she found that the course helped her developed her public speaking. She said that ‘now I hope that I will go on to sell my fashion online and I’m going to attend a Prince’s trust Enterprise Course in July.’
On Friday 18th, Dan Jarvis MP and Shadow Culture Secretary was present at The Civic to give the team their Prince’s Trust Awards. As well as thanking ASOS and The Civic for their work in supporting the young people of Barnsley he also said of the work The Prince’s Trust, ‘thank you for doing some incredibly valuable work across the country and in Barnsley. It is a very difficult time to be a young person at the moment. It is a very difficult labour market and equally as difficult to find a job. The reality is that in places like Barnsley, young people don’t always get the best start in life. The Princes Trust helps them in a way that is valuable and important.
‘Most importantly, I want to thank the young people involved this week for making a fantastic contribution and you have really made the most of this opportunity. I spoke to some of you before hand and have all said that you have gained a really useful experience out of this.’
This was apparently the first time The Prince’s Trust has run a Get Started course in Fashion in Barnsley and it has proven to be quite a success. Every young person involved is now inspired to start their own business, go into volunteering and/or going into full time education or work very soon.
Let’s hope there are more courses like this in the near future.