After a very successful year from last year’s Ladders programme in Newcastle City Centre, it was only right for us to continue the journey on the other side of the river – Sunderland, our HQ this time based in Software City. This outstanding venue supports and creates opportunities for aspiring and established software businesses in the North East, and we are incredibly grateful to be working closely with them for the next two cohorts.

Young creatives, all ages and interests, filled the room with apprehension and excitement in prep for today’s session. Cal Kilpatrick, Enterprise Development Co-ordinator at Generator, kicked off the afternoon with a very warm welcome and individually introduced the Ladders team, followed by a presentation by our very own Jenny Barrett, Managing Director of TICE. Before getting into the course details, she of course faced the elephant in the room and promised that there’d be pizza as promised! But primarily, she shared the importance of commitment and communication as well as revving the students up for the weeks ahead.

It’s all good and well stating the benefits of Ladders but why not hear it from those who were in their shoes? We were thrilled to be joined by Ladders alumni, Rebecca James (Music) and Emily Robertson (Software Development). They were kind enough to give the students a taste of their personal experience, emphasising how the course truly does ‘put your foot on the ladder’. They re-iterated much of what Jenny expected, telling them to become self-reliant and take the opportunity to network despite how intimidating it can be.

Even Film & TV pilot students, Peter Banks and Sisley Henning, otherwise known as Fandangle Films, sent over a lovely little video to share their success story since completing the programme. They wished the students luck on their journey and guaranteed that it’d be a life-changing experience but for that to be the case, they’d have to put in 110%. Their words certainly gave the students that motivation and clarification they needed to move forward in their creative journey.

Once this year’s students were filled in on their creative courses, it was time to explore the other opportunities available including employability support and general advice/guidance. They were separated into two groups – one working closely with Foundation Futures to talk about how they could personally improve on their experience through drop-in sessions and group work. Meanwhile the others sat with Youth Focus and individually set up their Open Badge Academy accounts to document the Ladders experience in the best way possible.

A few days later, students arrived back at Software City to fully immerse themselves in their creative courses. All were excited to be finally in their groups, meeting their mentors Sam Burt (Music), Chloe Rodham (Film & TV) and Phil Jeffes (Software Development) and getting their first taste of what their course will entail. All three rooms were thriving with potential, ready to face the creative world and showcase their talent in the North East region.

Want to keep updated on this year’s course? Visit our Ladders: The Diaries page for more!