More than 60 youngsters from East London boroughs have taken part in a pioneering programme – launched by the companies constructing London’s new super sewer – using the river to inspire young people to achieve their career potential.
The scheme has been created by the three companies working in joint venture on the eastern part of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, Costain, VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche. ‘Breaking Barriers’ aims to help increase employability and promote careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), channelling the focus on the river to support young people to achieve their potential.
Run in partnership with London Youth Rowing (LYR), the programme includes rowing sessions on the River Thames, where students learn the value of discipline and teamwork, along with building their own and each other’s self-esteem.
Year 10 and 11 students from Stepney Green in Tower Hamlets and St Angela’s, Chobham Academy and Brampton Manor Academy in Newham have taken part in ‘Breaking Barriers’, which also involves mentoring sessions run by dedicated STEM ambassadors working on the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Through the business skills explored during these mentoring sessions – from goal setting to problem solving – the programme aims to strengthen the resilience of each student. The bespoke Visitor Centre at the Chambers Wharf site is specially equipped with rowing machines and screens enabling students to simulate racing each other, championing the importance of teamwork. After all, as a lead mentor summarised, “rowing is just like our project; we cannot do it alone. We need a team.”
Daniel, a student from Chobham Academy said:
“It has been both an honour and a good experience working with Tideway, giving me the confidence to run for Newham’s Young Mayor.”
He joined twelve other participants who have applied for work experience and apprenticeships at Tideway following the programme, which was first launched by the joint venture in 2015.
Jeremy Galpin, Legacy Manager for the joint venture at Tideway, said:
“Recognising the national importance of investment in technical education, Breaking Barriers forms part of our STEM volunteering commitment, giving students an encouraging insight into industries they may not have experienced before.”
The programme promotes careers in STEM to a diverse group of local pupils; of the 60 students, 55% were female and 75% come from a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicities) background. The programme’s impact measurement survey shows students’ scores consistently increasing towards their being well-rounded individuals, capable of dealing with life’s challenges.
As part of Responsible Business Week, taking place this week, a ‘Breaking Barriers’ showcase is being held at Tideway’s Chambers Wharf site in Bermondsey, aiming to recruit more staff to get involved.
Other activities being organised by Tideway during the week include a careers workshop at the University of East London in Newham.
Constructive, rewarding, and enjoyable, ‘Breaking Barriers’ puts the Tideway vision into action and sets up some of London’s young people with skills for life.