In March 2019 The Work. Live. Leicestershire (WiLL) Programme launched, supporting those living in rural Leicestershire who are unemployed or economically inactive. The programme is designed to offer a holistic package of support tailored to individual’s needs. Joint funded by Building Better Opportunities and the European Social Fund, participants are able to access support free of charge.
Having worked on similar projects before, specifically for young people, I did not expect to experience much contrast in the issues faced by our participants. There are clear parallels between similar projects such as mental health issues, lack of support and lack of qualifications. However, the real difference that I have noted has been the ingrained isolation among people in rural areas, cementing the aforementioned issues. To see progressive improvement in individuals has meant multiple organisations banding together to build support packages that build momentum and secure trust.
For example, participant JP was referred to the project 10 months ago by their brother and at that point, they wouldn’t speak or look at you directly. Since then, JP has had a regular volunteering role at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire, where they have slowly been introduced to more people each week and at their own request they will start another volunteering role in a separate team working for the YES Project soon. They have also completed the 12 week Prince’s Trust Team Programme, which resulted in them making friends and delivering a short presentation at the final ceremony.
Alongside this, they have met with local professionals to find out more about a career in motion graphics and animation as well as making steps to improve their health and wellbeing; booking a doctor’s appointment to assess their needs, with a bit of support from WiLL.
JP has attended events, workshops and meetings independently, which is a major improvement, thanks to the support of so many professionals working together and keeping communication open. JP is now making plans to find employment, and has a short-term and a long-term plan. They now enjoy spending time with new people and hope this will continue with our support.
JP’s steady improvement has got them to a point where they can see themselves finding employment and leading an independent economically active life. Multi-agency support provided them with a better conceptual and practical understanding of what is required to work: attitude and behaviour, knowledge and understanding, applied psycho-motor skills and the ability to learn how to learn (Delamare Le Deist and Winterton 2005, 39).
How can we continue to develop multi-agency working?
Employability is the end goal for participants on projects like ours, but often before someone can find this, they must first achieve stability, good mental and physical health, confidence, self-worth and practical skills. A person-centred approach helps to identify career identity and personal identity. Multiple factors influence a person’s career advancement possibilities, such as age, education, cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence and work experience.
Employability is constantly evolving. It is less likely that we see people having a ‘job for life’ anymore, and it is more likely that experience is required as well as qualifications. It is widely noted that employability is defined in different ways, from two main perspectives: education and the work place. Schools, colleges and universities prepare students by providing them with a portfolio of skills and achievements. Work places teach people to become resilient to change, take accountability for themselves and regularly improve their skill set.
To continue achieving strong outcomes on these projects we must take a multi-dimensional perspective on collaborative working; attending network meetings and forums, using local services and organisations (Council and community lea), signing up to newsletters, attending events for local organisations, enterprises and charities, attending events for Universities and Colleges, being more active on social media. By doing so, we will not only improve our own knowledge, skills and attitudes, but those of the people we support.
If you would like more information about the project, please contact Zuli Stannard on Zuli.email@example.com