Andy steps up from the table and starts dishing out sheets of paper:
“I just thought these might help!”
But he isn’t running the session, he’s a service user and that’s the beauty of this group. Through the Foundation’s Community Matters programme WEA are able to run their ‘Recognise Your Potential Group’ helping people take their next steps towards employment.
Gill Walker, WEA Outreach Worker, runs the programme:
“There are many reasons why people can find it very challenging to get a job, including physical and mental health issues. People don’t always receive the support that they need.
“The distance some participants have travelled just to get through that door is great, and I’m not talking in a geographical sense, they’ve all got their own challenges to overcome but this group is brilliant as they all support each other!”
Attendees do what you’d expect in terms of taking steps towards employment. Looking at job adverts, analysing barriers and going through interview scenarios but what this group does best is allowing its members to share their experiences, questions and tips providing an exceptional support network.
Andy, one of the group’s most enthusiastic members said:
“I started coming in January and I’ve been coming ever since. When I first came I was nervous and everything but as soon we broke the ice we all got on like a house on fire!”
After having to leave his job in 2003 to look after his mother and father it’s been difficult for him to get back into employment, it’s something Andy has been working hard to combat:
“I do suffer from confidence issues when meeting new people and especially looking for a job. But it’s great to come here make friends and build that confidence. “The project has helped me look at things differently, not only the way I go about interviews but also how I can support and help people with problems. The set up is great, we can have a general chat about the issues we have which is really helpful.”
Getting back into employment may not be too far away for Andy who has taken up a number of volunteer positions to help him get back into a routine:
“I’m doing a couple of days voluntary work in the library at the moment and hopefully that will lead to something. It’s helping me communicate with different people and I also help people with IT, I’m an IT nut!”
The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.
The BBO project has received £129,000 of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.