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Parents of some of the UK's top performers in their field support the 'Talking Futures Campaign'



The parents of some of the UK’s top performers in their field, including double Olympic swimming champion Becky Adlington; JLS band member and farmer JB Gill; and barrister, author and campaigner Alexandra Wilson (also known as the ‘Essex Barrister’) have come together to support ‘Talking Futures’ – a new national campaign to highlight to parents1 the positive impact of having regular conversations with teenagers about their future career options, and the influence they have on the decisions their children go on to make.

Sharing their stories of the nurturing and supportive career conversations they had with their children growing up, Kay Adlington, Cynthia Gill and Julie and Deon Wilson explain in a series of new online films, how these helped define the working lives their respective children went on to have.


In a job market which is very different to how it was when today’s parents of 11–18-year-olds were considering their own education and careers paths, many are not always confident about the advice and support they can provide, due to their own lack of understanding of the available education pathways and job options.

Cynthia Gill, Kay Adlington and The Wilsons’ collective top tips for parents on how to approach conversations with children to help them achieve their work aspirations, include:

Learn to listen, rather than talk - You might not always feel confident in offering advice, but you can hold honest and open conversations. Listen to what they want and then allow them the process of seeing how far they can develop. You don’t need to be an expert to be supportive, but by understanding their aspirations you can look for ways to guide them to where they want to be.


Try to understand their passions and do your research - If you don’t understand their goals, do your research and learn about it. If you don’t know where to start, the Talking Futures website can help to signpost to relevant, helpful information. Some people have a clear idea of what they want to be when they grow up, and for others it can be a process. Following their passions as they grow up, means that you can keep regular conversations going.

Suggest they talk to someone who works in a career that interests them - Encourage them to seek advice and talk to people who have followed the career path that interests them. Giving them the forum to explore and ask questions will open doors, and emphasise that it doesn’t matter if they change their mind or things go wrong along the way, there’s no harm in testing the water.

Since the onset of the pandemic more than a third of parents don’t feel informed to support their children with potential future career choices.


The Talking Futures campaign is designed to improve parents’ confidence and give them the information and the signposting they need to have more informed and regular conversations. Seeking advice from teachers and other parents to help navigate different options can also help to can bridge this knowledge gap.

Funded by the Gatsby Foundation4, which created the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance that schools and colleges across England 5 must deliver against, Talking Futures is a campaign and website launching today to help parents, carers and guardians, as well as educators, have constructive and informed careers and education conversations with young people (11- to 18-year-olds).


The campaign website, as well as providing guidance and practical tools for parents to help have career conversations with their children, also recommends and signposts to other useful sites and resources that can help parents explore the different training and education opportunities available for young people. From practical guidance on how to kick start a conversation, to information on different education pathways, the tools are designed to give parents the confidence to have meaningful career conversations with their children.


Throughout the films, the parents explain how they approached these conversations, despite not having knowledge of the industry their child aspired to break into, by listening to them and embarking on a journey together with them, to work out what their path should be to be successful in their chosen field.


Cynthia Gill (62), mother of JLS band member and farmer JB Gill, said: “As parents, we have a unique opportunity to be our child's most valuable asset at the beginning of their path to independent living. At the same time, it is important to remember that this is their life, and your role is to support and facilitate them to reach their full potential, in whatever path they choose, so that they achieve the goal of living the best life that they possibly can. We don't always know the answers, or what to do, so having an essential resource like the new ‘Talking Futures’ website will empower parents in the quest to provide direction and advice - through regular conversations - to help their children navigate this journey.”

Kay Adlington (61), double Olympic swimming champion Becky Adlington OBE’s mum, said: “It’s so important to have open and regular conversations with teenagers and give them the opportunity to be completely honest about what they want to do with their lives. By listening to your children and educating yourself on the career choices they’re making, you can understand and support them. Becky was always sure she wanted to explore being a professional swimmer and we shared the ups and the downs equally. We discussed many things along the way, some with the benefit foresight, but other retrospectively. We always dealt with things as openly and honestly as we could. It’s not always easy, but having a resource such as the new ‘Talking Futures’ website will allow parents to equip themselves with helpful and practical tools, so they can have productive conversations with their children that guide them in making decisions that are right for them.”


Deon (55) and Julie (54) Wilson, parents of barrister, author and campaigner Alexandra Wilson (also known as the ‘Essex Barrister’), said: “We value the conversations that we had with Alexandra growing up and believe these helped to give her confidence to make bold career choices. We are not experts in her chosen field, but by pointing her towards people who are, we were able to help her access appropriate advice and support in order to move forward into a job which has inspired her. We are proud to support the launch of the ‘Talking Futures’ campaign – its resources are an excellent place for parents to start, when looking to support their child’s future education and career options.”


Talking Futures | The Making Of… JB Gill | Cynthia Gill



Talking Futures | The Making Of… Becky Adlington | Kay Adlington



Talking Futures | The Making Of… Alexandra Wilson| Deon and Julie Wilson



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