Josef secures employment with a helping hand from mentor David 

“If I never met Josef, I would never have learnt about Afro dance.” 

Josef smiles, “I was excited to get a mentor, I wanted to get a job. When I met David I just wanted to talk about dance.”  

Josef’s passion is dance, all kinds of dance. But, for the past three years, he has had to reign in this passion, only able to dance at home thanks to lockdowns. In that time, he was also dealing with having moved a few years earlier to the UK, after his family faced challenges to their safety at home, and unemployment, a situation made more difficult by not having qualifications recognised by employers.  

A regular friendly face at youth drop-ins, the team joined the dots between his passion and mentor David, who is connected into the Newcastle dance community and has himself danced in many different shows. 

The mentoring was made possible through the CAN Project, which supports 16 to 25-year-olds to overcome barriers and achieve goals with the help of a trained mentor. 

The pair quickly bonded in early meetings, which included taking a trip to a local dance venue, and it wasn’t long before they were taking steps to explore how Josef could achieve his ambition of finding work. 

Josef shares his experience, “I applied for jobs lots but always seemed to face barriers. I really wanted to get a job. If I didn’t do the mentoring, I think I would still be at home looking for work.” 

Sometimes they would meet up and work together on specific actions, like looking at an application or practicing interview questions, other times they would go for a walk and just talk.  

“We would have conversations about lots of different things,” explains David, “things like what work means, what Josef could be proud of, what his expectations were.” 

Josef adds, “I had a previous job which didn’t last. It wasn’t a good job. I wasn’t supported at all. I feel different now. I feel proud… valued.”  

Together they identified organisations that would be a great fit, that could provide him with support, a friendly environment and development opportunities. David also turned to his contacts to help and they found an opportunity with a highly-respected local hotel. 

David also sat in on the interview for support. Although he explains, “I hope my being there was helpful but it was all his work paying off. It was like a jigsaw coming together. I knew he would get the job.” 

And he was right, Josef was offered the role that same day.  

“My mum is really happy. I love it. This job is a big happiness. I have huge thanks for David.” 

The two share a smile and shake hands.  

David says, “We’re a team. I’m proud of you. You worked hard for this and I hope you carry it with you,” adding, “It’s important places like this exist to help. For me, working with a young person in this way, it’s refreshing. It gives you a different way of looking at things. It’s good to look outwards.”