Minister of State for Employment visits Collage Arts!

Most Tuesdays tend to be quite casual, the same, inane and mind numbing stretch of the week, however the first Tuesday of March was unusually bustling – especially for a place like Collage Arts.

A special visit had been arranged for Damian Hinds MP for East Hampshire who is also Minister of State for Employment.

Damian Hinds MP visited the Talent Match London Hub, a youth-led enterprise aiming to reduce unemployment in youth, spanning across London with specific focus on reducing and identifying “hidden young people”. The Big Lottery Funded programme, Talent Match covers 21 regions across England.

The Talent Match London partnership is led by London Youth with delivery in North London led by Collage Arts with Rinova and KORI.

In a meeting, Mr Hinds spoke to Manoj Ambasna, Executive Director, and Preeti Dasgupta, Deputy Director, Collage Arts, along with Jim Minton (Director of Communications), Ornella Nsio (Policy and Communications Officer) and Matt Dronfield (Senior Employment Manager) from London Youth at Collage Arts’ head office, on the uniqueness of the Talent Match London Journey of Change for young people embarking into work and on local investment into the creation of more studios, as well as an entrepreneur incubators for young people to hold and establish their own business, which will inevitably boost the local economy, alongside allowing much needed opportunities to flourish.

Sarah Benioff (Deputy Director, Strategic Programmes) from the Big Lottery Fund gave the wider perspective of the national Talent Match Programme available across the country.  Sam Windett (Head of Policy and Communications) from Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) spoke about the wider stakeholders and the role of the Core Partnership and Vasi Nadarajah (Director) from Movement to Work gave the employer’s/industry perspective on the Talent Pipeline and their involvement in encouraging employers to change perceptions around employing young people.  

Damian Hinds MP then visited the Talent Match Hub with Employer Engagement Apprentices, Sela Pinarbasi and Chloe Smith, and engaged with numerous young people on Talent Match London who spoke about their experiences, skills and career aspirations. He was very interested in finding out more and asked pertinent questions of Sarah, Akil, Georgia, Tayseer, Otis, Sami, Michael, Jerome, Agz, Luke, Llamar, and Dowa. The Minister particularly liked a T-shirt custom-designed/screen-printed by Otis aka Unitee.  


“It was enriching to have the chance to meet and communicate with the MP!” – Sarah Buller – Talent Matcher

Sue Neville, Funding and Relationship Manager for Talent Match (Big Lottery Fund) and Lilian Barratt, Communications Officer (Big Lottery Fund) also attended and had the chance to speak directly to some of the inspiring young people.  

We spoke about Talent Match being the key inspiration for Talent Matching Europe – Collage Arts’ Erasmus+ programme in partnership with Rinova looking at the role of the vocational mentor and peer mentoring when working with young people across Europe’s creative and cultural industries.  Otis and Michael from the Talent Match Youth Board recently attended a mini-conference and knowledge exchange seminar in Barcelona to share their practice and experiences from Talent Match London with international partners in Spain, Poland, Italy, Croatia and Macedonia.  


“It was so lovely to visit and see the work of Talent Match up close. The young people I met were so friendly and it is an absolute pleasure to help promote their work.”  Lilian Barratt, Big Lottery Fund. 


It’s difficult for young people to follow their dreams,the opportunities to do so are often rarer, in a crippled economy – one where most have had to grown up during not only one, but two recessions.

It is imperative that organisations like Talent Match continue to thrive and run as they allow for young adults to be entrusted with management level opportunities which employers tend to be apprehensive about handing out, especially to those suffering with disabilities or those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Talent Match has so far been successful in their work by engaging over 939 young people, 41% whom were not accessing any support prior to starting Talent Match London, alongside 66% of the young people enrolled in the programme are now engaged in employment.


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