When Ilyas Mulla, from Blackburn, arrived at the Job Centre last year, he had no idea where it might lead.
Today, thanks to an innovative government scheme, Ilyas, has worked his way into the management at one of Derian House’s charity shops.
The 22-year-old started a six-month placement on the shop floor at the Derian House charity shop in Blackburn town centre under the government Kickstart scheme, aimed at getting unemployed youngsters into work.
After the placement was up Ilyas decided to try his luck and apply for an Assistant Manager role at the charity’s Preston store – and got the job!
A total of eight young people have had a step up into full-time employment with Derian House thanks to the Kickstart scheme, with support from recruiter Spring North.
The scheme, which offered six-month job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds during COVID, launched in 2020 and closed in December last year.
Ilyas, now 23, said: “The day I went to the job centre, a retail manager from Derian House was recruiting for positions on the scheme. I had an interview that day – and that’s how it all started.
“I began in the Blackburn shop as an assistant and the team there were really supportive. Everyone is so positive – there’s something about that Derian magic that just works. I worked the shop floor and had so many opportunities to gain more skills.
“When the Assistant Shop Manager role came up, I didn’t think I’d get it but I applied anyway – what did I have to lose? I was so happy when I got the job. It makes you realise that it’s only by taking these chances that you get where you want to go. I really enjoy my new role. Everybody works together so well. Having good colleagues makes a world of difference. Derian truly is a family.
“Derian House is an incredible charity too. You get people coming into the shop who know families who have been to Derian. All you hear are good things. It just shows the impact that the hospice has on its families.”
Andrew Upton-Ford, Head of Retail and Online Sales at Derian House, said: “The Kickstart scheme provided a lifeline for young people during COVID – enabling them to gain new skills, enhance their CV, and get into employment.
“It has been inspiring to see Ilyas progress during his time in our charity shops. He has been a real asset. I wish him all the best in his new role.”
Derian House Children’s Hospice currently has charity shops in Preston, Accrington, Chorley, Horwich, and Blackburn.
The shops provide a vital stream of income for the children’s hospice, which cares for more than 450 seriously ill babies, children and young people from across the North West each year.