Virgin Balloon Flights Case Study

The Government’s Kickstart campaign – a £2 billion scheme to help young people aged 16-24 at risk of long-term unemployment – is ‘taking off’ across the region.

Virgin Balloon Flights, based at Stafford Court in Telford, has taken on the 100th Kickstart recruit through Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.

Bookings and admin assistant Charlie Collins is the second team member welcomed to the Virgin team through the Kickstart programme and he was treated to a balloon flight over Shrewsbury, along with Alex Brown, a member of the Chamber’s own team who was also recruited through Kickstart.

Hundreds of companies across Shropshire have come forward to offer vacancies in a wide range of sectors from manufacturing to professional services, hospitality, social care, marketing, animal welfare, and more.

“It was both a lovely surprise and really quite an honour to hear Virgin Balloon Flights took on the 100th Kickstart placement facilitated by Shropshire Chamber,” said the company’s head of marketing, Maria Wilkinson.

“And what a way to celebrate, with a balloon ride over the gorgeous Shropshire countryside.

“Charlie is absolutely fantastic and a real asset to our company. He is the latest of a number of brand-new roles we introduced as part of our flying recovery from Covid-19 restrictions, which has seen us back in the air for the first time in over 18 months.

“It seems everyone is heading into summer with a real enthusiasm for ‘living life to the max’ and after a tough year for the leisure and experience industries, we’re as busy as we have ever been in almost 27 years of taking you up, up and away.

“Shropshire Chamber has co-ordinated new Kickstart roles across our customer service and even marketing departments and everyone we have employed under the scheme has brought great skills and inspiration.

“Mentoring and encouraging young people and giving them a chance to really shine has always been something we have strived towards here at Virgin Balloon Flights.

“It’s a brilliant scheme with an equally brilliant gateway team in Alex and Nicola, who made the whole process from our very first application to the last of our Kickstart employees to start work completely seamless.

“To any company who is either just hearing about the scheme or might be in two minds about whether to sign up, we’d absolutely encourage them to ‘go for it’.”

Under the Kickstart scheme, the Government funds 100% of relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Shropshire businesses taking on a Kickstart candidate receive £1,500 per job placement available to cover their setup costs, support and training.

All the placements generated from the Chamber gateway are being advertised on the dedicated Shropshire Chamber web page – see

Shropshire Chamber chief executive Richard Sheehan said: “I want to say a big thanks to the Shropshire business community for the way it has stepped up to engage with Kickstart. We are extremely proud to be able to play our part in creating opportunities which really can be life-changing for young people.”