Havering teenagers given chance to shine by vocational skills company

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:15 21 November 2013

Christopher Mann, 15, working on a car with his teacher

Christopher Mann, 15, working on a car with his teacher


Young people who struggle with academic study are among those helped to realise their potential by a vocational skills organisation.

Matthew Cope, 15, working on a wooden horseMatthew Cope, 15, working on a wooden horse

Motorvations, based in Maldon Road, Romford, provides training in fields such as motor vehicle repairs, construction, health and fitness and beauty to raise teenagers’ self-belief.

It supports students in Years 9, 10 and 11 and has been operating since 1997, when it began as a company offering only vehicle training.

Former garage owner Chris Lee, 56, has been with the firm since its inception and was awarded an MBE in 2011 for his work with children.

He said: “A lot of those that come to us come because they find it difficult to cope with a full-time academic programme and we also get more practical young people.

Lily Duke, 15, with beauty teachers Terri Guyon and Sara SimmonsLily Duke, 15, with beauty teachers Terri Guyon and Sara Simmons

“But we see school as the best place for young people and very much see ourselves as an addition to it. We are passionate about giving them the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Christopher Mann, 15, is one student who has been taking advantage of Motorvations’ support, through studying for an Institute of the Motor Industry level 1 motor vehicle maintenance course.

The Drapers’ Academy student said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for me to do the subjects which I don’t do at school and gain a qualification which will hopefully see me on into employment.”

Over the years, Motorvations, which is also a charity, has gone from strength to strength, now working across a number of London boroughs and Essex.

Brentvvood County High student Matthew Cope, 15, who also lives in Brentvvood, said studying for his National Open College Network level 1 in motor vehicle maintenance has made him feel “more settled”.

He added: “Motorvations has helped me improve my work at school. The staff have been great in showing me different ways of working which suit me.”

The organisation has developed from having two employees to 15 and is currently aiding 110 students.

Chris said the expansion of the programmes on offer came about because of high demand.

Many students previously supported by Motorvations have gone on to further education, with four people who finished high school last year now completing motor vehicle apprenticeships and two others enrolling in college to study beauty courses.

However, there are no plans to add any new qualifications at this stage.

“We’re really looking to consolidate the work we do at the moment,” said Chris.

“But we said the same last year and then opened up construction workshops.”

Chris said the company also places high importance on aiding the community. One of its schemes involves repairing bicycles, which are then donated to causes such as hospices, who sell them on for funds, or given to children who are not able to have one.

Motorvations also supports the Falconer Trust, a charity which aids a children’s home in Zambia.

But its main priority lies with providing the younger generation with skills and qualities which will lead them to success in the future.

Project officer Sue Steward said: “So often young people have low self-esteem and believe they will never achieve.

“We celebrate achievement at many different levels and for some that is the start they need to move into the world of work in the years to come.”

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