Lifelong leadership learning in Cumbria

Workington students gain key skills through town centre regeneration

Students from St Joseph’s Catholic High School in Workington have spent the week formulating ideas on how to spend £500,000 redeveloping the town’s former Opera House.

“it was a great experience to learn more about the world of work and great to work in a team with other people I necessarily normally wouldn’t” – Student

The students took part in the ProjX programme organised by the Centre for Leadership Performance for Sellafield Ltd. ProjX is funded by Sellafield to support SME’s and micro businesses within the supply chain who often find it difficult to take part in work experience activity. It provides a platform for young people to have their voices and ideas heard and is designed to involve them in decision-making. 

The twelve ProjX students were based at Allerdale House and worked with Allerdale Borough Council as ‘the client’. With advice and guidance from CCL Solutions Group, National Nuclear Laboratory, Armstrong Watson , Lakes College/NCfN, Baines Wilson LLP, Pladis Global and Business Toolbox Cumbria, the young team produced exciting ideas on how to transform the former Opera House location, encourage new businesses there and turn it into an asset for the town, especially young people.

The two teams from St Joseph’s chose very different solutions to the challenge.

One team opted for a garden centre with café that would particularly benefit the older generation in the town, encourage volunteering with an emphasis on people with disabilities and recovering addicts, and act as a focus point for campaigns to support the environment. Read more here

The other team planned to create an arcade offering young people the opportunity to come together as they ‘time travel’ from the 80s to modern day to play retro and modern games in a safe environment. They were seeking an antidote to antisocial behaviour and crime and envisaged creating a vibrant location by regenerating a neglected backwater. Read more here

ProjX is designed to enable young people to explore a range of interests whilst working collaboratively with business professionals and industry experts from across West Cumbria, ranging from large organisations to SMEs, business owners and microbusinesses.

Companies working with the students also included Armstrong Watson, NNL, Baines Wilson and Lakes College. CforLP also supported the students and business partners throughout the week in developing their project brief ideas and solutions.

Nicola Woolley – Secondary Programme Manager at CforLP explains: “The students had a terrific week learning first hand some of the challenges involved in different real-life projects, the skills required to bring a complex project to life, and the behaviours needed to succeed in the workplace. It is a huge boost for the students which would be impossible to deliver without the support of local businesses“

The ProjX brief was part of the wider re-development that is currently underway in Allerdale. It had to be self-sustaining financially with students showing how their scheme would attract people and benefit the community, particularly young people. Plans take into account environmental impact, sustainability and any Health and Safety considerations, time-scale for development and construction, and finance.

At the end of their working week the students made a presentation to ‘sell ‘ their concept to Allerdale Borough Council.

ProjX programmes provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills including teamwork, problem solving, collaboration, innovation, planning and communication. They also meet and interact with industry experts, gaining exposure to a range of businesses, jobs, skill sets and careers.

By participating in the programme students develop their confidence, aspirations and leadership skills, and gain a greater understanding of the range of disciplines and job roles in a workplace,

They get to experience project management and business processes through real work scenarios, build greater understanding of the workplace environment, and develop skills and behaviours needed to succeed in the workplace. ProjX at the same time gives students insights into the range of local businesses in the area and careers available, including less visible jobs and roles.

Below are some testimonials from the students:

“I would recommend it because you get to know how and what a workplace is like and know what this type of job aspect it is and if you are interested in it

“I would recommend it because you get to know how and what a workplace is like and know what this type of job aspect it is and if you are interested in it”

“I thoroughly enjoyed working in a team”

“It taught how to get my ideas around”

“it was greatly enjoyable, far more so than conventional Work Experience”

Lifelong Leadership Learning in Cumbria