Catrin Davies, Delor Evans and Glesni Hemming are the Communities for Work+ Delivery Team for Ceredigion and here they talk about how they’re helping towards making a positive change for people up and down the county:
Glesni: Communities For Work+ is a Welsh Government funded project as part of their Anti-poverty strategy and is delivered by Ceredigion County Council. It supports individuals in or at risk of poverty, aged 16 or over. Participants may be experiencing in-work poverty, unemployment, living on minimum wage or struggling to pay basic monthly outgoings on sporadic zero-hour contracts.
Catrin: As the project has been running for only a year, we’re all relatively new in our roles although we’ve all had experience in similar roles in the past. We already feel we’ve made such a positive impact by securing training and employment opportunities for many people; we had over 200 referrals and supported 111 people since the project started. 28 of whom have secured employment with our support.
Delor: Glesni and I are Employment Mentors for the project. We carry out one to one sessions with individuals and discuss how we can support them to get out of poverty (or reduce their risk of slipping into poverty) through training, volunteering and employment
Glesni: What’s great about the project is that we come out to meet the participants at a location near to them so they don’t have to spend money on transport costs.
Delor: Some people come to us as they’ve found a job that they would like to go for but have identified they’re lacking a specific skill or qualification needed for that particular role. We help by looking into what training opportunities are available and will pay for the training.
Examples of training opportunities we’ve arranged includes CSCS – construction and labouring, SIA door security, Childminding, HGV lorry driving, IT skills, Chainsaw training, First Aid, Food Safety and more.
One gentleman recently completed training in CCTV that we paid for. He immediately secured a job as a CCTV operator with a local employer.
Glesni: As we can pay for transport costs, we can reimburse participants for fuel. If the training lasts a few days and is out of the county we can even arrange and pay for accommodation.
Catrin: I’m the Communities for Work+ Employer Liaison officer and I cover the whole of Ceredigion. I communicate with lots of local businesses about whether they have any vacancies going and whether they have something suitable for some of our participants. Or, if they are willing to give someone a chance to gain work experience in a role a participant is considering.
I liaise with a number of local employers on a regular basis. I also approach new businesses; if I see a job being advertised I may approach the employer and show them some CV’s of our participants and explain what the project is about. It’s great that we’re able to help local businesses in getting the right person that they need whilst at the same time helping someone find their perfect role.
Delor: We also provide volunteering opportunities and help people back into work. One lady who had been a stay-at-home mum for over 20 years wanted a job with children but wasn’t sure how to go about it or what type of job she was after. She was considering an assistant’s role in a primary school setting but didn’t want to leap in to a full-time job before being 100% sure it was the right job. So, we arranged for her to volunteer in a school, we helped with the DBS checks and all the other necessary paperwork. She’s now started volunteering and has this chance to look at her options for the future and what will work best for her and her family.
Glesni: I enjoy the ability to help people of all ages find employment or training opportunities – age is definitely not a barrier. I also really enjoy the fact that we get to help people from all different backgrounds who have different circumstances. For example it’s very rewarding when you help someone find work after being out of work a long time due to health issues.
Catrin: With this project we can offer paid work opportunities – for example, if someone is after a particular role but they’ve never worked in that role/area, I will go and visit businesses to see if they would be interested in providing a temporary position. Once agreed with the employers, participants can try out the role to see if it’s suitable for them – try before you buy. The project pays the employer and the employer then pays the participant, just like any other member of staff – it’s rare for someone to have an opportunity like this in the world of work.
It’s a short period placement, typically lasting one to two months, but this is a long enough time for both the participant to consider whether the job suits them, and for the employer to see whether the participant is suitable for the role. If the participant wants to continue with the job and the employee is happy, then the placement can sometimes lead on to a more permanent role.
Even if the participant doesn’t wish to pursue in the role, it’s still is a valuable experience that they can add to the CV. They can use this experience to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and come to us to help gain training to fill in those gaps.
It’s great when businesses who’ve employed past participants of the project come to us and say they have a vacancy arising and ask if we have any participants that would be suitable - we’re the connection linking the two together.
Delor: People’s situations can change so quickly – one moment you’re working full-time and have that security, then the next moment your work contract may come to an end - you can’t afford to pay the bills and are facing poverty.
Everyone has different challenges they have to face; we’re here to help alleviate some of these issues.
Delor: I arrange one-to-one meetings, go out to libraries and job centres meeting participants and holding regular outreach sessions, helping participants fill in job application forms, create CV’s, brush up on interviewing skills; that’s what I like about the job - you meet such a wide range of people and it’s a great feeling when you see how much they progress as they’re gaining new skills and opportunities.
Glesni: We’ve just had the good news that the project will run until March 2020 so we really hope we can help as many people as we can in the next eight months. The best way to contact the team is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 01545 574 193.