Opportunities Fair aims to inspire children

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INSPIRING young people is what comes naturally to Charlotte Bishop.

She works with youngsters within the Pompey Respectability programme, and is attending the Portsmouth Opportunities Fair on Sunday to inspire even more young people.

The Respectability programme, which is part-funded by Warings and its parent company Boyges, brings together youngsters experiencing social, criminal and educational challenges with children living with disabilities in the city, and it looks to convince them to give something back to their communities through volunteering.

It helps them focus on the future, and find a career that suits them.

And it is exactly that part of the job that makes Charlotte, 27, the perfect person to spread the message wider.

She said: ‘I heard about the Opportunities Fair from Warings. It advertises the different jobs that are available. It’s great to have that variety of routes that people can go down if they want.’

Charlotte is one of the many role models attending Sunday’s event at the Guildhall, between 10am and 3pm.

She will be telling youngsters – and their parents – about how a degree in media led to her working with children with challenging behaviour at the Harbour School in Portsmouth, and how from there she became involved with Portsmouth Football Club and the Respectability project.

She said: ‘I love working in the community, encouraging young people to get involved with sport.

‘It gives people who haven’t thought about further education, and those whose links with the community haven’t been very positive in the past, the encouragement to give something back to the community through Respectability.’

Charlotte was born and bred in the city, attending Mayfield School and South Downs College, and now lives in Southsea.

‘The thing I want to tell young people is that they need to go with the flow and if they find something they enjoy doing, they should pursue that.

‘It’s important that they get as many opportunities under their belts as they can, getting experience in the community and volunteering as much as possible.

‘We had one young lad whose classroom time was a bit lacking, but because he volunteered with us, he got on a college course.

‘And it doesn’t matter if you’re not strong on the academic side of things, it’s about finding out what you do best and what you enjoy.’

The Portsmouth Opportunities Fair is the first of its kind in the city and will see around 100 firms showing off the careers they have on offer.

The fair is aimed at youngsters aged between 10 and 13 and their parents and is free to attend.

There will be interactive showcases, as well as people who were born in the area sharing their experiences of finding a career in the city.

The fair has been organised jointly by the Portsmouth Education Business Partnership and the Shaping the Future of Portsmouth group, as a way of raising the aspirations of the younger generation.