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Bright Lights | Meet the Graduates

Teesside Park and Middlesbrough Football Club (MFC) Foundation have marked the success of their joint educational programme, ‘Bright Lights’ with a graduation ceremony at the centre.

For the past five weeks, the Bright Lights initiative has seen 11 people aged 18-24 from across Teesside receive high-quality training, advice from industry experts, and support with interviews and CV writing.

Participants also gained valuable on-the-job experience and in-depth knowledge of how retail businesses operate by working at Boots, Nando’s, M&S and Morrisons at the centre.

We caught up with two participants, Shaunna and Dante, to hear their thoughts on the programme.


Shaunna stands in a hallway at teesside park

19-year-old Shaunna was waiting to hear back from Middlesbrough College about doing another year when she learned about Bright Lights.

She is profoundly deaf and wanted something to improve her confidence. Having been an avid fan of Middlesbrough Football Club, she knew she could trust MFC Foundation to help her.

What did you do before the Bright Lights Programme?

I went to Middlesbrough College to improve my maths and English skills. I also undertook a supported internship with Shaw’s Trust. I have a dog that I would take for walks, and I love football.

What motivated you to join the Bright Lights Programme?

I wanted to try something new and needed a challenge. I also wanted to see what it was like first hand in the workplace.

Where was your placement?

It was at M&S. I really enjoyed it.

What have you enjoyed the most about your time at Bright Lights?

I found it nice to talk to people, and the atmosphere throughout the course was really friendly. I also really enjoyed helping people in the clothes section on my placement.

How has the initiative impacted your life? What has it meant for you?

I found the confidence to look people in the eye when talking. I feel happier and more self-assured in the workplace, as well as asking for help.

What skills have you found most useful?

I have developed my social skills allowing me to make friends on the course and increase my confidence when speaking to people.

What challenges have you faced along the way, and how have you overcome them?

Being profoundly deaf, I struggled to make friends at the beginning, however the course leaders created an atmosphere that allowed me to make connections with other people and supported teamwork.

I also found it difficult when in M&S, but they provided interpreters to support me in the placement which really helped.

What are your next steps and future plans?

After the course, I know have the skills to actively search for jobs. I will be going for anything at M&S when the opportunity comes as well as other retailers.

Any additional comments you’d like to add?

I felt supported by the course and really enjoyed my time here. I’ve made some great friends and I would recommend it.



Dante leans against a glass wall

23-year-old Dante from Billingham didn’t have much luck when it came to the job search, then when his Job Centre work coach told him about Bright Lights, his life changed.

What did you do before the Bright Lights programme?

Before the Bright Lights programme, I completed Prince’s Trust Level 1 last year and Level 2 in May of this year.

What motivated you to join Bright Lights?

Truthfully, the programme was first mentioned to me by my Job Centre Work Coach. They suggested there could be good opportunities to work in retail – an industry I wanted to pursue – so I signed up, and I’m very glad I did.

Where was your placement?

My placement was at Boots.

What have you enjoyed the most about your time at Bright Lights?

My favourite part of the programme was 100% the work placement. It was really fun and enjoyable, and I felt a valued member of the team.

I was really nervous beforehand as I didn’t know what I was doing and I hadn’t met anyone, but as soon as I met my manager, Rachel, and the person I was to shadow, Helena, I was instantly put at ease with their warm welcome.

How has the initiative impacted your life?

For the first time in a very long time, I have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, which feels great!

I have had such negative experiences with finding a job, and this course has given me more than I could hope. Support, confidence, and a job!

What skills have you found most useful?

I found that communication skills were the most important to me. I was able to talk and be myself, that led to forming connections and friendships, that in turn helped my confidence. This followed into the work placement, and I felt confident to ask questions and learn when I was struggling.

What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

I struggle with ADHD, which leads me to talk without thinking, but I worked really hard to not interrupt Adam & Rachael when teaching.

I also suffer from insomnia, so I was really tired for the first few weeks, but I didn’t want to let anyone down so I continued to show up. I’m glad I did because it really paid off!

What are you next steps and future plans?

I didn’t really have plans for when the course finished, but now I have secured a job at Boots & start on 3rd October on a 20 hour contract, which I’m really excited for!

Any additional comments you’d like to add?

I loved the course, I found it very useful. I was able to build my communication, confidence & team working skills. I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone struggling to find work.

Find out more about MFC foundation

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