Jessica Barton

Having worked for just under a year on the Barclays Degree Programme, it has become clear to me just how much Barclays loves to invest skills, time, money and expertise back in to the community.

I had applied to join Barclays during the same period the tuition fees rose to £9000 a year - a price I simply could not afford. I had always wanted a career in banking and I was keen to begin work as soon as possible.  However I also knew the importance of gaining a degree. 

I managed to stumble across an advertisement for the programme (via a very lucky Google search) and after a competitive yet fun assessment, I found myself working in a fast paced retail banking environment, as well as studying for a degree in Management and Leadership (fully funded by Barclays). Barclays had allowed me to gain valuable paid work experience in the banking industry, and also an equally valuable degree.

Being on an undergraduate scheme with Barclays, I have a real passion to help young people just like me to build their financial, enterprise and life skills for an independent and secure future. I am currently based in the Camden Town branch in North London, where this passion is also shared. We have been working closely with a local Youth Centre, New Horizons, in delivering ways they can build their own life skills.

Over the summer months, we have conducted several 'Money Skills' sessions in our branch with New Horizons such as 'Guide to Budgeting' and 'Small Sacrifices, Big Rewards'. The guys at the Youth Centre have big ambitions of owning their own businesses, so we thought it would be a great idea to help them achieve this. My colleagues and I ran a separate session on Business Banking which consisted of a heap of activities regarding task management, taxation, branding and also common reasons why businesses fail.

Camden Council have now given New Horizons permission to set up a Crepe Stall (now named 'Crepe Up') which they run every Friday at the local market - what a fantastic way for them to gain first hand practice at running their own business! New Horizons found our Money Skills session really useful in helping them create and maintain a successful business, but we at Camden wanted to take this a step further by physically helping them on their stall in order to help them raise as much as possible. 

We will also be helping the Youth Centre via Barclays' Matched Fundraising, which is a great scheme that will match 'Pound-for-Pound' any money they make from the stall in order to give them a head start and a boost in to their new business. This opportunity has really encouraged New Horizons to push themselves even harder to maintain a successful business.

To give the young people even more motivation to succeed in their enterprise project, I had also contacted both our MD, UK Branch Network and our Regional Director - London, who created their very own crepes to be sold on the stall! Inspired by a meal on holiday. Our MD decided on "crumbled goats cheese, toasted pine nuts and runny lavender honey, with the name of Crepe "a la Point Sublime", whereas our Regional Director decided on shavings of melon with slices of Parma ham and shavings of parmesan cheese, named "the London-Italian job.". Which one will you be tasting?