Professionals in social mobility “coldspot” helping young people get ahead

Duncan Toplis
Francesca Tricarico

Professionals in Newark are coming together to help young people get ahead in their careers and beat the town’s poor record on social mobility.

In November last year, the government’s Social Mobility Commission identified Newark as one of the worst areas for social mobility in the country, with young people from poorer families likely to remain poor throughout their lives.

The figures showed that young people in Newark are less likely to pursue further education and are less likely to grow up to secure senior positions in work. To combat this, professionals in the town are stepping up their efforts to give young people a helping hand.

Newark Young Professionals meet four times a year for an evening of informal networking and support. Now approaching its seventh meeting, the club is geared toward getting people at all experience levels to help each other succeed in the world of work.

In Newark, just 21% of people are in professional or managerial roles, whereas in Oxford the figure is 51%. By helping young people gain the expertise, confidence and connections to succeed as professionals, it’s hoped that the town can overcome its negative reputation.

Organiser, Francesca Tricarico, an accountant at Duncan & Toplis says that Newark Young Professionals is designed to be an inclusive and supportive community: “Newark really is a great place to live and work, we just need to make sure that it’s a place where everyone can succeed. As professionals working in the town, I think we have a responsibility to help each other and to help younger people who want to succeed in business. Everyone has gaps in their knowledge and everyone gets thrown into the deep end at some point, so this is a great way of us all helping each other.

“Newark already has the very successful Newark Business Club which promotes broader business interests, but there isn’t anything else like this. Coming to a networking event can be a bit daunting and they’re not always helpful if you aren’t completely confident in yourself or if you don’t have a great deal of experience. Newark Young Professionals, is much more relaxed; you can have a drink, have a laugh, meet people and be yourself.”

When Paul Andrew from design and marketing agency Brand Newark started going to Newark Young Professionals, he struggled with public speaking, but the club was able to help: “Compared to other networking events which can be very business-oriented and formal, this is almost the opposite and it suits the way I work. Here, you might make some really strong business contacts or you might become friends with someone who can help you in future.

“Like most people, I wasn’t comfortable speaking in front of a room full of people but my lack of self-confidence made the idea of doing a pitch or presentation in a boardroom truly terrifying. When I first went to Newark Young Professionals, I immediately felt at ease. Fran talked me into being a guest speaker at one of the events so I could get some practice.

“It was quite a test for me, but everyone helped me through it and they were really supportive. They gave me the confidence and advice that I needed and now I don’t think twice about addressing a room full of people, meeting new clients and presenting my work.

“I still go to the events and it’s great to help other people who are in the same situation. It’s definitely not just for young people either; there’s a mix of all ages which means there’s a real variety of experience. It’s inclusive and it feels like a community. If anyone has a problem, someone will be able to help.”