But a team based at the Sussex Community Development Association, which covers the whole of the district and East Sussex, is making great strides in helping some of those affected to get back into employment and look to the future with renewed hope.
The Work and Health Programme now available in Lewes district is a government-funded service designed to help people find a good job, enrich their lives and create a brighter future for them.
Different from other employment programmes, it recognises that everyone is different. have their own set of challenges, their own individual reasons for being out of work and therefore everyone’s path to finding a job will be different.
Its success is because as well as not being a ‘one size fits all’ approach, it looks to enhance every aspect of clients’ lives, not just the employment outcomes.
To help someone find a job that’s right for them, the programme will help clients to manage their health and wellbeing, build emotional strength and resilience and make them feel good about themselves again.
Designed for each person, it looks at issues such as friends, family and personal responsibilities, skills and experience, physical health, housing and money, volunteering and finding and preparing for work.
“There is a new challenge for us because of the way the current pandemic is affecting things and putting people out of work who would not have expected to find themselves in that situation,” says Lee Wakefield, area manager for the Work and Health Programme,
“Many of those people will not have had recent experience of applying for jobs, so there are many ways in which we can support and help them.
“Our team has had to adjust the way it works in giving people really good support in getting them back to work in this particular situation.
“Often people don’t want to share what is going on with their family and that is where our team can help a great deal by offering invaluable, impartial advice and support.
“Since 2018 we have helped nearly 200 people in East Sussex into work – we are one of the most successful partners with the Shaw Trust, a national charity working to create
brighter futures for people and communities.
“In this area there are a huge number of small to medium businesses, none of the really big employers like Amazon. So when these businesses do have vacancies, there is a lot of competition for any jobs available.
“Our aim is to make participants shine to their best ability and so have the best chance of getting a job. It isn’t just about getting jobs for participants – they have to be sustainable jobs, a good match for people. If the right match isn’t there, then they will fall out.”
Through the Work and Health Programme, a work coach at the Jobcentre Plus will refer people to the programme and once referred, they will be introduced to their own dedicated support manager.
The support manager will get to know the participants, what has been holding them back, any health problems, caring responsibilities or financial issues they might have experienced.
They will spend time to understand what type of job they are looking for, what skills and experience they have and where they want to go.
Together with the participant, they will design an action plan to get participants into work and feeling confident about their future. The action plan will include gaining skills and work experience, and getting specialised support for other challenges they might be facing.
With the help of the support manager, participants will work through each area on their action plan until they are feeling good and ready to start looking for a job.
Once they have their job, the support manager will be there to support them for as long as this help is needed.
When the Work and Health Programme team receive someone’s information from Jobcentre Plus, they will contact them within two days to book a face-to-face appointment, which will take place within ten working days.
They will send a copy of the Customer Service Standards in a welcome pack before the initial appointment, and publish them on the Shaw Trust website.
Participants’ individual ambitions, goals, priorities and personal needs will be discussed with them, to agree a Personalised Individual Action Plan within 20 working days of referral from Jobcentre Plus.
They will be helped to identify a realistic ‘target date into employment’ at the start of the programme; and this will be reviewed and updated at least every 13 weeks.
The support manager will provide one-to-one support at least fortnightly and when participants have found a job, the manager will complete a Moving Into Work Assessment within five working days, to identify the support needed to help them stay in work. Within five working days, their action plan will be updated with details of the agreed in-work support.
“There is no limit to the number of people we can help,” says Lee Wakefield. “If the number that any support manager can deal with successfully exceeds a certain figure, then we will recruit more to cope with the demand for support.
“We hear lovely stories from people who have benefited from the programme. The great rapport and support they receive from our team makes such a difference to them and their families.
“It is fantastic for us to see someone come through the door without any self belief then leave at the end of the programme with renewed confidence and hope for the future. Seeing that transition is really special.” •