BOLTON Lads and Girls Club is trying to find local youngsters who have become “hidden” in society without work or support to offer them a way forward.

The well-known charity in Spa Road, which works with youngsters from all backgrounds, is taking part in a Greater Manchester programme called Hidden Talent.

The Hidden Talent programme is the legacy of a previous programme, Greater Manchester Talent Match, which showed that up to half of unemployed young people are missing out on valuable support to move forward in their lives and find work.

The Lads and Girls Club deliver the GM Hidden Talent programme in Bolton and work in a flexible and holistic way which offers practical and emotional one to one support, advice and guidance to 18 to 25 year-olds who need it most.

Often hidden from the usual contact points most of us have, they will have been out of employment, education or training for four months or more and will not have received benefits during that time.

Dora Mallott and Andy Simm work on Hidden Talent at BLGC and know that many young people who could be helped by the programme may not be aware of it. Their parents, family and friends may equally not know about it “but we do know there are a lot of them out there who would definitely benefit from it,” explained Dora.

They may be young people out of education who simply do not know what to do next. Without guidance or support – or the right kind of information and contacts – they may simply go into a spiral of self-doubt and depression that can lead to despair.

“It’s not just about getting them into work immediately,” stated Andy. “Some of them just aren’t ready yet but then we can help them start that journey, deal with their problems and help them find a way through.”

This is achieved via regular one-to-one meetings with the experienced duo, who can provide up to 24 months support for more intensive needs. They offer access to a range of training, vocational and employability courses and help break down barriers to employment and training opportunities. They also assist with cv’s and job interviews and offer the additional support that some may need.

The youngsters themselves have a variety of different barriers to moving forward. These could include mental health problems, hidden disabilities like autism and Asperger’s, caring responsibilities or they may just be out of care themselves. They may be at risk of offending or re-offending, have a long-term health condition or disability or have experience of exploitation.

What they have in common is that they may find themselves isolated and unsure how to go on. Sometimes, they lose the confidence to even leave their home, inter-act with friends or people generally and may soon find themselves in a downward spiral.

The main strength of Hidden Talent is that each youngster is treated as an individual with the help needed just for them. Fortunately, there are already success stories and Dora and Andy know that many of the young people they see are already more confident and going forward positively in their lives.

One of these is Nikita Bent. She is 18, lives in Bolton, and started seeing Dora on the Hidden Talent team in May this year after being referred through Connections.

After not doing well at school and leaving college, she found herself unsure what to do next. Through meeting Dora regularly, she began to gain confidence and was referred to the Prince’s Trust.

She began work experience and has now been offered a job in housekeeping at a local hotel, due to start in December. “I just didn’t know what to do with my life,” she stated, “but I feel more positive now about the future.”

Owen Harries, aged 21, felt certain about his future: he wanted to join the police and started a degree in Carlisle with that in mind. But, he began to realise that the course was not for him and ultimately returned home to Bolton where he lives independently.

“It’s very easy to just sit and think and worry about the future,” he said. “And the more you do that, the worse things get.”

Owen was advised to contact Dora and Hidden Talent and they have been meeting for the past six months or so. “I do feel much better about things now and have plans for working in security and safeguarding,” he added.

Simon, not his real name, had to quit his college course in early 2018 due to regular anxiety and panic attacks. He also had an eating disorder.

He wanted to improve his social confidence to lower his anxiety levels to make positive plans for the future. Through Hidden Talent, he went on the Prince’s Trust 12-week Personal Development Team Programme and his confidence has grown.

He has enrolled in college to further his interest in music and is looking at possible volunteering opportunities. On taking part in Hidden Talent, Simon commented: “My support has helped me get into a regular routine and do things I would not normally do like join the Prince’s Trust and take part in a Residential. Also, it’s given me a person who I can trust and talk to about things.”

Added Dora: “We would love to find out about more young people that Hidden Talent can help. So we are appealing to them, to the family and friends of anyone they believe could benefit, to just get in touch.

“We know we can make a difference to their lives.”

To find out more about Hidden Talent contact Andy or Dora on 01204 540111 or text Andy on 07787 254988 or Dora on 07787 254987 or email