Abri’s success at Victorious Festival

Abri’s Employment Service engaged with 34 people through their Abri Work Academy (AWA), resulting in 30 jobs across the weekend. This included a group of Sudanese young people and many from disadvantaged backgrounds.

AWA’s see them working in partnership with employers across a range of sectors including sales, customer service, care, construction, and events to deliver sector-based training. It makes sure that people have the skills, values and behaviours that employers require. This approach has successfully enabled Abri to deliver training to 94 people this year, including those at the Victorious Festival.

In addition, Create, their self-employment project, sponsored four market stalls and pitched the Abri Create gazebo, promoting the work of Create and supporting business start-ups to trade and meet new clients.

The opportunity for Abri’s Employment Service to become involved in the Victorious Festival came out of their partnership with Shaping Portsmouth and Portsmouth Creates. George, their Employer Engagement and Project Lead brought the project to fruition. The main aim behind Abri’s work with Victorious was to involve and include those who faced barriers that would usually impede access, awareness and the relevance of this type of cultural event.

Abri is hugely grateful to Andy Marsh, Sian Kelleher and Katherine Sim as well as the rest of the Victorious Festival Events team for embracing the idea and welcoming all of Abri’s clients. And in particular the Sudanese refugees, including those yet to secure their right to work, who were offered voluntary roles.

Abri partnered with a range of local agencies including Teentalk; Motiv8 South-Music; Havant and South Downs College; Portsmouth City Council and Street Support; and owe them all a huge thank you for their enthusiasm and energy enabling Abri to engage a diverse range of people of all ages across Portsmouth and beyond.

“When the first day of the festival came, I was really nervous as I knew no one and felt out of my comfort zone. However, when I arrived everyone was great, and it was like we were all friends already. George was lovely, Chris was really friendly and everyone in the team made everything much easier than it would otherwise have been. I had a great time, and it was a really positive experience. I’m now really looking forward to being part of We Shine and future festivals.” – Lou, Victorious Festival AWA participant

All of Abri’s participants demonstrated an amazing work ethic and commitment, and were overwhelmingly enthusiastic, loving the friendliness and fun that the experience offered. Shane said that for him the experience “was amazing” and that he “loved making new friends”. Similarly, Hannah exclaimed that she “loved it” and that now she has done it she “wants to do it again and again”.

Following the festival all the participants will be offered opportunities of onward employment that are emerging through Abri’s work with Costa Coffee, Vespasian, and others. And VFest are very happy with their participants, in particular the Sudanese contingent, and have said they want Abri back next year.

The feedback from the young Sudanese refugees themselves, who worked in either voluntary or paid roles, has been extremely positive. Their support worker, Miranda, said: “They gained real hope for a future in the UK. The experience showed them this is possible in the UK and there is support from Abri to be able to do this; that has given them the encouragement that they need. Our young people have, for the first time, also been allowed to have fun whilst working which they had not experienced before. The young people have asked when the next festival is and if can they work then too. It was an amazing few days for them and for us and I cannot thank you enough.”

Everyone who participated will now be on the bank for future opportunities with the Victorious Festival including We Shine in the autumn and Victorious itself in 2022.

Emma’s Story

My name is Emma and I live in Portsmouth. I first heard about Abri’s Employment Service from George, Employer Engagement and Project Lead, when he was talking about the Abri Work Academy (AWA) planned in preparation for working at the Victorious Festival. I was excited at the idea of being involved with the project and eagerly signed up.

As part of the AWA I joined a call on Teams where we met the team and were given an overview of the roles available at the festival, the values and ethos of Victorious and the application process. I was then enrolled on Digital College and completed a first aid course. When the time came, I was helped to complete my application and was guided through the process.

The first day of the festival arrived and I was nervous because I get really shy around people and have had bad experiences at work in the past, and I have been unemployed for some time. However, I really enjoyed it and managed to come out of my shell, which was great. I met lots of new people and we had a great time together. On the Friday evening I even got to see Madness perform, which was fantastic!

I’m now really excited and looking forward to helping out at We Shine and other festivals in the future.