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Charity increasing ties with housing associations to get disadvantaged into work

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Charity increasing ties with housing associations to get disadvantaged into work

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Featured, Housing

Charity increasing ties with housing associations to get disadvantaged into work Charity increasing ties with housing associations to get disadvantaged into work

A business-led charity is hoping to expand its relationship with the social housing sector as it looks to increase delivery of a successful employment scheme. 

Business in the Community's (BITC) Ready for Work programme has supported over 2,600 into employment since 2001, and recent analysis has suggested that for every £1 invested in the programme, £3.12 of value is generated for society.

BITC currently works with a number of HAs which refer disadvantaged tenants to the scheme. Members benefit from a dedicated account manager that helps to develop responsible business practice, as well as gaining access to research, training and network opportunities.

Mark Nightall, Director of Supported Housing at Riverside, claims the scheme has supported the HA's commitment to help the disadvantaged into work. He said: “We have been members of Business in the Community for many years, helping us to develop and maintain our ongoing commitment to the local communities in which we’re based...through an approach of shared aims and vision, a number of people have made the successful transition to work."

BITC works with 160 businesses in 20 cities providing training, work placements and post-placement support disadvantaged people such as ex-offenders and those recovering from substance or alcohol dependence. Its partners include Barclays, Marks and Spencer, Carillion and Royal Mail.

As of August 2012, 6,981 people had been supported by the Ready for Work scheme, 2,632 of which found employment. Between October 2011 and October 2012, BIC recorded that 28% of those it had assisted blamed rough sleeping as a barrier to getting into work, while 23% said that living in hostels had been an obstacle.

Adullam Homes Director of Business Development, Steve Woods, said: “Adullam is a referral partner for Business in the Community’s Ready for Work programme simply because the programme works. 

“We have a local contact and access to a simple referral process so that when we have a resident who needs some extra skills, confidence or experience to take the final steps into employment, we can easily offer them the opportunity to take part in Ready for Work. We are looking forward to building our partnership further so that we can together support more of our tenants to prepare for employment.”

One of those who has benefited from the Ready to Work programme is 19-year-old Sally.

Having spent most of her life in the care system, she had suffered from depression which had led to her dropping out of education. She became "terrified of trying to find work" but was referred to the scheme by her aftercare services. 

After training she was offered a placement at a major retailer. The first few days at work were a big step for her, but with the support of her buddy – a trained employee who was assigned the role of helping Sally during her placement – she quickly gained confidence.

Sally said: “I was afraid I would not be able to do the work. But my buddy helped me. The other staff made me feel part of the team too – not like a ‘work experience’ person.

“I’m actually excited for my future now.”

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