A group of long-term unemployed young people from Leicestershire volunteered almost 10,000 hours of their time to raise public and corporate awareness of the barriers to employment faced by young people due to hidden disabilities.

The young people, many of whom had never met each other before, came together on Talent Match, a young people-led Big Lottery and Prince's Trust project that supports long-term unemployed young people into work, education or training.

Peter, one of the young people in the group said:

Before coming to Talent Match, we had all faced long-term unemployment because of our own hidden disabilities and health conditions, and wanted to make sure other young people like us didn't experience the same issues we had.”

One of the key issues the group wanted to tackle was the understanding of the needs of young people with hidden conditions like mental health problems, school exclusion, homelessness and offending.

The group then ran a series of events supported by the Chamber of Commerce, Leicester Business Festival, Leicester City FC and the Leicester Tigers, to highlight hidden conditions and the limited work opportunities for young people with additional support needs.

We created training for the Department of Work and Pensions' work coaches which has been rolled out across job centres in Leicestershire and created materials for employers and professionals to use to help them support young people. We also made a short animation about hidden conditions.

"Through what we've achieved, we've grown personally and professionally. Two of us have become members of the County Council's equalities challenge group, and many of us have secured work which had been almost impossible before we started. More importantly, we hope to have laid the foundations for an easier transition to work for disabled job seekers of the future."