Young people have been given vital support towards entering training, education or employment thanks to Norse’s involvement in a project created by Olympic silver medallist Kriss Akabusi.

Project Mackenzie helps young people aged 16 to 19 to develop the essential skills required for taking the next steps towards a job or finding the right course or apprenticeship.

The recent local initiative, run by Norfolk County Council’s Virtual School for Children in Care and Previously in Care and the Akabusi Company, was tailormade for those taking part, explained Kirsty Shanahan, Development Coach at Norse.

“Kriss Akabusi came up with Project Mackenzie because he was in care himself and wanted to give back to the community and help others overcome some of the challenges he faced,” she said.

“The programme provides opportunities for young people, all of whom were looked after children or care leavers, to spend time with local employers, meet training providers and receive specialist advice on subjects such as money management, safe social media, CV writing and interview skills.”

Young people from the project were placed with Norse across a period of four weeks.

They included a 17 year-old girl, who spent time with Kirsty, learning about her role at the group, supporting employees into training opportunities.

“The young lady was work shadowing me and attended various meetings, observed training and even delivered some training herself on Teams,” said Kirsty.

“She gained experience of the workplace and was exposed to business etiquette. She told me the placement really boosted her confidence as she suffered from anxiety.

“Being in a work environment was really challenging for her but now she feels ready to start seeking employment working with animals, which is what really interests her.

“For my part, I really enjoyed spending time with her at Norse: she was enthusiastic, engaged and asked lots of questions. Seeing development like that is very rewarding.”

Kirsty, who also took part in a Project Mackenzie event to offer employability support to other young people not in employment, education or training, stressed that Norse is always keen to offer work experience to those aged 16 to 19.

“It is very easy for young people to fall through the gaps and we were very pleased to offer our help by taking part in Project Mackenzie,” she said.

“Young people not involved in a programme like this can also come direct to us to see if we can help them to find appropriate work experience.

“The Norse Group is so varied in the services it offers that we are usually successful in finding suitable placements.”

Kirsty added: “Supporting the community and offering opportunities like this is very important to Norse.

“I believe working with young people can also be very beneficial to us as a business. It brings a fresh approach to what we do here, and it is good to be a part of developing people for the future.”

Jamie Robson, Learning and Employment Adviser at Norfolk Virtual School, said: “The Virtual School is incredibly grateful to all of our delivery partners and work experience providers, including Norse for providing this opportunity to Norfolk’s Care Leavers.

“The work experience placements have provided them with a chance to get a taster of real work environments and job roles they may not previously have considered; this has helped them to explore career ideas and increase their aspirations.”

For more information on work experience placements with Norse visit