Activate Learning’s Project Teams are working innovatively and creatively to continue to support the unemployed throughout Oxfordshire, despite the coronavirus crisis.
Activate Learning support those looking for work across various government, Lottery and European Social funded projects to ensure people in the local community can find new jobs.
Supporting the unemployed across Oxfordshire
Although remote working, the Project Teams have adapted their processes to ensure they can continue to support participants in their Removing Barriers Rebuilding Lives and Skills Support for the Unemployed (SSU) projects.
Activate Learning delivers the Work and Health Programme in Oxfordshire on behalf of Seetec Pluss.
Jake Waldron, Head of Work and Health Project at Activate Learning, said: “We are still having successes on the Work and Health Programme and are maximising current working opportunities, particularly within the retail sector.
“We are pleased to have placed participants immediately into work at large retail organisations such as Tesco’s, Asda and Iceland, to name a few. We are still managing to place up to 15 people into employment and achieving up to eight securing sustained employment each month.”
The Projects Team are now exploring other sectors for potential employment, including driving, health and social care, cleaning and agricultural picking to maximise current opportunities and fast track people into employment to support the economy during this unprecedented national emergency.
The team conduct weekly welfare calls to ensure participants are feeling well and signpost them to relevant support services within Oxford where needed. This includes Oxford Together, who deliver food parcels to participants in need within 30 minutes.
Although face-to-face meets are not currently possible, participants are still offered previous support virtually and are alternatively being contacted via telephone, email and online.
Jake said: “In these times of uncertainty and isolation, a friendly voice is a welcome voice. The project also has the financial flexibility to tap into local resources to offer online courses completely free for the participants.”
These courses support wellbeing and development and include building confidence and self-esteem, personal health and well-being and CSCS programmes.
Offering participants everything they need to succeed in the workplace
The team offer a holistic approach, supporting CV and cover letter writing, job applications and job searches, as well as participants being able to access a team of experienced and expert coaches to serve their needs.
These coaches focus on potential barriers to gaining employment or entering education and engage with local employers and other support services to support participants alongside offering guidance where needed.
Kayleigh Oyle, a participant in the Work and Health Programme at Activate Learning had never had a job before joining the programme. Alongside the support of her Change Coach, Ana, she managed to secure a temporary role at Tesco.
Kayleigh said: “It was exciting to get the role. I worked night shifts and would stack shelves and check stock to prepare for customers the next day. I was quite glad that I was doing my bit to help.”
“I worked there for three weeks; I’d like to work there again full time and hopefully I can go back. I wasn’t working before this and at first it was quite hard because I was doing night shifts and my sleeping pattern was all over the place but after a while, I got used to it.
“Having the job gave me a sense of purpose and I will be looking for more roles in the future.
“The support from Activate Learning has been really useful. Ana says if I need any help, or if I am struggling with anything to just ring her up at any time. She put me on the course before I started at Tesco and made me update my CV. I feel ready to find future jobs and it has changed my life. I’d like to be stay in retail but start working with customers.”
Ana McIntyre, Recruitment Coach at Activate Learning said: “Kayleigh hadn’t been on the Work and Health Programme for very long and had been long-term unemployed. I immediately got her to complete the Digital Literacy SSU course which triggered her motivation levels.
“She also attended one of our sector specific job clubs focusing on retail and subsequently began applying for retail opportunities with the support from the Work and Health Programme Team and put herself forward for work during Covid-19.
“I supported her application and in getting her required job documentation ready, and our recruitment lead tweaked her CV focusing on retail. Kayleigh was successful in her application for Tesco’s and started work immediately helping the national emergency. This was Kayleigh’s first ever job!”
For those who have unfortunately not yet secured employment during this time, the team continue to support them in finding a position as quickly as possible.
The team support over 300 participants at any one time to the Work and Health Programme and get around 35 new referrals for the programme each month.
The Project Teams is prepared to return to work as normal, as well as meet the significant demand for their services.
Jake added: “The Project Teams are planning for when the economy returns to normal and there will be a significant need for our unique support services and ultimately, a hike in referrals to our projects.
“We want to ensure we are as best placed as possible to meet this demand and do our part in helping the local community.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Removing Barriers Rebuilding Lives and Skills Support for the Unemployed (SSU) projects, please contact Rebecca Iley, Head of Operations for the Lifeskills faculty at Activate Learning at Rebecca.Iley@ActivateLearning.ac.uk.
The Work and Health programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund.