You Make It helps unemployed young women of colour living in East London find employment—and a sense of self. But as cuts bite, its own future is under threatby Ciaran Thapar / October 22, 2018 / Leave a comment
In December 2017, Joy was sat in her local job centre in Hackney, north-east London. Having recently graduated from university, home life was becoming unbearable. Whilst her mother battled multiple sclerosis and the discovery of a tumour, Joy was diagnosed with depression.
“I couldn’t decide: should I focus on improving my mental health, or on getting a job? I was stuck. There were times when I questioned whether there was any point even being here…”
Her voice trails off. “Then You Make It came into my life.”
Fast-forward to the summer of 2018: Joy is stood at Spitalfields market, selling her artwork, just three months into You Make It’s intensive six-month program.
The charity helps unemployed young women of colour living in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney to find employment—but also find a sense of self.
“It gave me a platform to be creative, to write and think about having my own business. But I was also supported to be more confident, to work on my mental health, to self-care.”
“The programme is different, because they give you time and encouragement to settle your head first, then they focus on your future and career,” Joy says.
You Make It has supported hundreds of vulnerable young women since its inception in 2011. Its founder Asma Shah was raised in social housing by her single mother, who left her abusive father shortly after moving to the UK from Pakistan in the 1970s.
“My mother died in 2009, and it made me wonder: if she didn’t have people around her who understood her talent and potential when she was starting off on her own, how would she have coped? Where would my sisters and I be now?”
“So firstly, it was about providing inspiration, contacts, networks and self-belief to those who need it most: working class women of colour, who are either unemployed, or underemployed,” she says.
The second of these categories has become more relevant because, as the Office for national Statistics found earlier this year, young women are more likely than any other social group to work under the…