Individual care and kindness are key to return-to-work help.

What do you think?

  • Sticks or carrots more successful when getting people back to work?
  • “Whole person” approach needed for successful employment support?
  • Great back-to-work support won’t succeed unless it is flexible enough to be shaped around each client?
Help to work partners share their know-how so that you can work

Help to work partners share their know-how so that you can work

Enthusiastic Help to Work partners met last week to catch-up on each others’ services, share information and find new ways of working together.  There are about 40 partner organisations helping residents of Bolsover District (and further afield) to get off benefits and back to work – visit www.helptowork.org.uk and click on Organisations.  When I asked each of them about the key to their success, the unanimous response was that “our clients come first”   .

“We listen, are supportive and approachable,” was the view of Hilary from the East Midlands Chamber, “We want to give them the best support possible across a whole network of organisations and something that suits them best.”  The YMCA’s Cheryl had a similar approach: “We run small classes where we can give everyone the individual support they need.”

All of the partners can assist people with long-term health conditions/disabilities and some such as Hayley from Mencap specialise: “We offer a very person-centred service – they take the lead in everything we do.”  “Empathy and understanding are the keys to our success,” said Dave from Goddards about help for Employment and Support Allowance recipients, “Several of the team have been in very similar situations so we understand how it can feel when the system seems stacked against you – and how you can come through it.”

“We give one-to-one personal support so that our young people always know that they have someone they can rely on and turn to – whatever the problem,” emphasised Jaime from Talent Match, “And we’re not scary but not push-overs either.”    Other young people have taken up apprenticeships with Bolsover District Council as Helen explained, “The staff at the Council are brilliant in the support they give the apprentices and in the quality of the work experience they provide – it’s not just photocopying and filing but really getting a start to working in the public sector.”

Talking about self-employment and business start-up support, Jamie from The Prince’s Trust said, “We want to do the right things for young people: having the patience to let them develop what they want to do – often they change their business ideas several times and we have the flexibility to help them do so.”      Talent Match’s Rachel echoed this approach: “Listening to my clients means that I can understand where they are in life and where they want to be – then it’s my job to get them there.  I’m helping them to become self-employed and start their own businesses – but lots go off in different directions as there are many ways of succeeding.”

But self-employment can work for other people too with the type of support offered by Paul of Clowne Enterprise: “Understanding their personal needs – it’s more than just making a business work but making sure that the owner is on top of every aspect of life and the new venture.”

“Matching the right people to the right opportunities – so that they are doing something they love,” said Richard from the Volunteering Centre as he championed voluntary work as a step towards a job.

There’s practical help too such as the Wheels to Work scheme as Sandie explained: “We aim to remove the transport barriers for people who want help to access the future – help with bikes, mopeds, travel costs and more – anything to stop transport being a barrier.”  Community Voluntary Partners (CVP) are also fully involved: “Providing information and networking opportunities for the community and voluntary sector,” said representative Heather, “We help them find out more about how to work together and support local people to get backing to employment.”

For more information, go to the website or e-mail info@helptowork.org.uk.

Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

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