4C UR Future, the industry-led social enterprise that aims to empower young people to make well-informed decisions about their education and future careers, held a successful 4C UR Future LIVE event at the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex, Lisburn on June 15, 2022.
The event was attended by Year 9 pupils from Lisnagarvey High School, Fort Hill Integrated College, Friends’ School, and Breda Academy.
Founded by engineer and business leader Rose Mary Stalker, 4C UR Future works with over 80 local employers to create an exciting, action-packed day that enables students to identify their own strengths and interests, relative to those that are in demand by different sectors.
“4C UR Future LIVE was designed from the very beginning to be at-scale and to be inclusive, with as many businesses and sectors as possible represented throughout.
“We’re encouraging young people, before they make their GCSE choices, to look at the vast range of companies working in Northern Ireland today, look at the wide range of sectors, and by playing games explore their own strengths and attributes.”
The 4C UR Future LIVE events are a departure from typical employment and careers seminars and instead embrace a more interactive, hands-on approach. Pupils have the opportunity to participate in an exciting range of skills games and work-based activities, each of which is co-designed with and facilitated by local employers.
“Some games they will like, some games they will dislike, some they’ll find easy and some they’ll find hard,” explained Rose Mary, adding: “It is important that they try each game and as a result have a better understanding of their own aptitudes and capability, and how that relates to what they might like to do in the future.”
Having had the opportunity to witness the game zones in action, Alderman Allan Ewart MBE, Chairman of the Development Committee at Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council agrees the 4C UR Future LIVE events help pupils make informed decisions that can affect their future. This includes their GCSE subject choices, education pathway, and future career aspirations.
Alderman Ewart MBE said: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to show the young people from post-primary schools in our area that where they live is a great place for their future careers to thrive.
“Events focussed on future opportunities give our young people both an invaluable insight into the future world of work and how they can use their talents and skills to make a real difference to their future.”
The alternative approach 4C UR Future has taken to traditional careers fairs has similarly impressed David Watson, retired Managing Director and Senior Advisor at Ryobi.
“I think this is one of the most exciting events and exciting initiatives I’ve seen in a long time,” he said, adding: “It’s so important for young children today, who have so many choices in front of them at school, to be able to focus their minds and understand what is their natural aptitude.
“Everybody has different aptitudes for different careers, and at that early age it’s important to understand. There’s games and activities for engineering, construction, hospitality, computers, and more.
“Students can work in a group, understand what their leadership capabilities are, how their group dynamics pull together, and it really gives them something they can be proud of.”
The activities that the students take part in vary in each game zone and cover multiple sectors, giving them the opportunity to develop an insight into potential careers they may not have previously considered.
4C UR Future Managing Director, Rachel Doherty, is keen to get the message across, that it is crucial to reach students at the right age and raise their awareness to help them navigate the complex careers landscape.
“Through 4C UR Future LIVE events and our first-generation CAREERS PORTAL, which is launching in September, we aim to inform young people of the wide range of opportunities available to them, help them navigate the complex careers landscape, and inspire them to achieve their ambitions and become the best version of themselves.”
On how these events are different from traditional careers fairs, Rachel said: “It’s the energy. It’s the buzz. There’s live music, it’s fast paced, the pupils are engaged and playing games. They’re finding out what they’re good at, there’s a little healthy competition, and they’re supporting each other.”
Students from the four local schools attended the careers inspiration event, accompanied by teachers and school staff members.
Teachers praised the event not merely for its benefits as a careers inspiration event, but that it enabled students to mix and cooperate with pupils from other schools – something that many young people haven’t had the chance to do in light of the recent pandemic.
Leah Sherry, teacher of IT and Business Studies at Lisnagarvey High School, agreed that the 4C UR Future LIVE event provided students with the “kinds of life experiences” that many pupils haven’t had due to the pandemic and that not only does 4C UR Future provide young people with employability skills, but that it teaches them key life skills too.
“The benefits are how practical it is, how hands-on it is,” Ms Sherry said, discussing the ways in which 4C UR Future differs from a usual careers event. “It’s not just going up to a stall, chatting to someone for a minute or two, getting a wee bit of paper – that doesn’t really stick with the kids; it’s something very easy to forget.
“Whereas, a few years down the line, this will be something they’ll remember. They’re out there, being hands-on, playing with the dough, the robots, the coding, all the real practical activities – that’s what will stick with them in the long term.”
Besides the practical elements of the ten game zones, it is the interaction with the wide range of organisations taking part, which makes it more engaging for students. John Watson, Head of Year 9 at Friends’ School Lisburn, echoed a similar sentiment and commended the hands-on nature of the LIVE event.
“This is very interactive for them, which is crucial,” he said, adding: “You need young people engaged in these events and to think about their career. Here they’ve got each business setting up a different zone where students are able to get immersed in that industry, which is brilliant.
“It’s far better than hearing somebody talking just about their business. You’re actually seeing it, seeing what’s required, it’s great.”
Thanks to the games and activities on offer, students came away from the event with a greater knowledge of the future world of work and a better understanding of their own skills and abilities. Students were rotated through each of the ten game stations, ensuring that each young person had the opportunity to try activities that were new to them.
Rebecca McGeary, a PE teacher at Fort Hill Integrated College, praised the fact that the LIVE event provided students with an alternative way of considering their future careers.
“The students have really enjoyed looking at a different side of things. I think it’s been a real eye-opener for some students and hopefully beneficial to them.” she said
With the impact of the pandemic still making itself known in an already highly competitive job market, it has never been as important for students to have opportunities to develop skills that are highly sought after in the workplace.
The 4C UR Future event gave students the power to interact with employers from various sectors, giving them an insight into the roles and responsibilities of different careers.
4C UR Future is running a calendar of LIVE events in different councils across Northern Ireland during the month of June. The full schedule can be found on 4C UR Future’s website.
Lidl Dundonald Customer Bags Top Prize in Sustainability Colouring Competition
Lidl Northern Ireland has today announced local aspiring artist, Jenny Hanna, as the winner of its sustainability colouring competition. Handpicked from more than 3,000 entries, Jenny’s design will feature on the retailer’s special edition batch of heavy-duty reusable shopping bags made with 100% recycled plastic.
Earlier this year, Lidl Northern Ireland launched a nationwide competition calling on budding artists from across the region to submit their shopping bag design entries with a focus on the theme of sustainability. Entrants were encouraged to get creative and submit a drawing, sketch or painting of what one of the R’s of Sustainability means to them – choosing from the themes ‘reduce’, ‘reuse’ or ‘recycle’.
Dundonald-based Jenny eclipsed hundreds of entrants to be crowned regional winner, with her masterpiece focusing on the reuse of plastic bags, depicting a bumblebee with the message “Bee clever, use me forever.”
The artwork is one of five designs set to feature on the special edition bag range, which will be available to buy across Lidl’s 210 stores throughout the island of Ireland from August.
Congratulating Jenny on her win, Owen Keogh, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Lidl Northern Ireland, said:
“We are incredibly proud to be leading the way in sustainability in the Northern Irish retail space. This initiative alone will see the elimination of 6.3 million ‘bags for life’ from circulation on the island of Ireland each year. With that in mind, we were delighted to see our recent competition spark the all-important conversation around sustainability and would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who entered the competition. Huge congratulations to Jenny whose design will feature on our 100% recycled plastic reusable bags from August”.
Commenting on the win, thirty-four-year-old Jenny, who is living with autism and has a passion for art, said:
“I was delighted and so surprised to get the call to tell me that my design had won Lidl Northern Ireland’s competition. I can’t wait to walk into my local Lidl in Dundonald and see my bag for sale. It is such an important initiative encouraging customers to reuse their plastic bags to protect our environment and reduce plastic waste.
I’m thrilled to also receive £500 in Lidl vouchers to spend in my local store. I’m not sure what I’m going to buy yet, but whatever it is, I’ll be carrying it home in the 100% recycled plastic shopping bag with my winning design on it.”
The introduction of Lidl’s 100% recycled plastic bags is the retailer’s latest move in tackling waste to protect the planet as part of Lidl’s ‘A Better Tomorrow’ sustainability strategy set in 2018, and complements a range of other in-store initiatives introduced over the last number of years. This includes the removal of plastic packaging on fruit, providing reusable fruit and veg bags and offering in-store recycling bins.
Under its sustainability strategy, the retailer has made a number of Plastic Pledge commitments which include eliminating single use plastics, using 20% less plastic packaging by 2022 and having 100% recyclable own-brand packaging by 2025. The theme of the competition is also aligned with Lidl’s Reset Plastic approach which focuses on Reduce, Redesign, Recycle, Remove and Research.
Second Call for Urban Investment Fund
Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) is seeking expressions of interest to its successful Urban Investment Fund. To date £337,000 has been invested to support local entrepreneurs open new 11 businesses and radically revamp seven in the council area.
This grant programme is funded through the Department for Communities (DfC) COVID-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme. Administered by the council it aims to support economic growth and resilience in the urban centres of Lisburn, Dundonald and Carryduff.
We want local businesses and entrepreneurs to submit an expression of interest now. New businesses wishing to renovate a vacant property; or existing businesses planning to expand and repurpose part of a currently occupied property, or change the use of an area are welcome. Grants ranging from £7,500 to £25,000 per business are available for interior and exterior improvements to commercial properties.
Alderman Amanda Grehan, Development Committee Chair, speaking about this capital grant opportunity said: “The Urban Investment Fund has been a great success for our council area, attracting new visitors and boosting our local economy. I am delighted we can offer a second call for this grant which has been beneficial to date. I would encourage local entrepreneurs with a business idea to get in touch.
“This fund has attracted a wide range of new businesses with many independent retailers making the Lisburn Castlereagh area the place to start their business. It has also supported existing businesses to revamp their business or premises. I look forward to welcoming more new businesses to our area.”
Councillor Hazel Legge, Development Committee Vice-Chair added: “The Urban Investment Fund has attracted unique businesses to Lisburn and Castlereagh. We have The Geek Retreat, The Running Bubble, RT Computing, Ruean Thai Square and Blush Lounge in Lisburn. In Carryduff The Beaut Cube has been a fantastic addition with more businesses due to open soon.”
The council will accept expressions of interest until 5.00pm on 16th July 2021. These will be assessed and successful submissions will be invited to complete a full application in due course.