The Be the Change programme, which has been developed by LoveLocalJobs.com and Graham Moore, of Metamoorephosis, works with disengaged 13 and 14 year olds to help give them the confidence and motivation to make the right choices for their future.

Students at the district's six secondary schools have been matched with business guides who have volunteered from a variety of organisations from across Chichester District. The students then benefit from a series of sessions with their guides that help to break down barriers which may be preventing them from achieving their full potential.

The programme began in February and will run until May.

Stephanie Thorndyke, Manager of The Novium Museum and Tourist Information Centre, is one of the council's business guides.

Stephanie said: "I decided to get involved with this project because when I was in Year 9 I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do and didn't really know how to explore my career options.

"I have since found a career that I love. There are many routes into the world of work and I'm keen to help show these students that it is possible to combine work with your favourite subjects or hobbies.

"I am also keen to represent the museum and tourism sectors. Roles in organisations like The Novium Museum are not often explored with students whilst still at school, so it's a great opportunity to promote these career paths.

"I really empathise with a number of the issues that young people of that age might be facing and I'm keen to use my experiences to help others.

"Even if it's just one person, I hope I can inspire the students to take really positive steps forwards over the next couple of years to help them realise their full potential, and enable them to thrive in their future career."

Sue Crabtree, Registered Nutritional Therapist at Chichester Wellbeing is another of the council's business guides.

Sue said: "I wish I had the chance to take part in a programme like this when I was a child. It's fantastic that we can show the students that everyone goes through obstacles in their lives, but it is possible to come out the other side.

"As part of my role, I work with a lot of overweight clients that use food as a coping mechanism. Some of these clients are elderly but their behaviour stems from something that happened in their teen years, so I really understand how a knock in confidence at that age can affect the person for many years to come.

"I'm really looking forward to taking the time to listen to the students and their stories, and also sharing my own experiences with them. At the age of 40 I graduated university with a science degree. Never let school or the people around you define you."

The other business guides are:

  • Amy Loaring, Community Project and Partnership Manager;

  • Michael Bradshaw, Estates Surveyor; and

  • Steve Hill, Rural Town Co-ordinator.

Pam Bushby, Divisional Manager for Communities at Chichester District Council said: "We are very proud of all our staff who are volunteering their time to take part in this fantastic scheme. It is a really worthwhile project and I look forward to hearing all about the impact it has in our community."

Nastassija Kolakovic, Events Manager at LoveLocalJobs.com said: "This programme equips young people with the tools, confidence and belief to realise their full potential and ensure that they can overcome any barriers they may face. Working with business guides and other students, you can see the students transform throughout the six parts of the programme, into confident young people at the beginning of their employability journey. Working in Chichester has been amazing and we are overwhelmed by the support of the business community and success we are seeing in the students."

For more information on Be the Change, please visit LoveLocalJobs .