Last week Work Programme customers with serious, long-term health conditions in Cornwall, where Prospects is a prime contractor, completed a work placement. The pilot scheme was run in partnership with Pentreath, a local mental health organisation and RE:SOURCE, a social enterprise which collects, cleans, repairs, refurbishes and sells unwanted furniture, appliances and other goods. This unique combination of mental health support, work experience and employability, helped some of the most vulnerable Work Programme customers take important steps towards finding work.
All participants were long-term unemployed with health conditions causing a major barrier to work. Colleagues on the Work Programme referred customers to the scheme, where they were assessed by a Pentreath Adviser to identify the support they needed. Customers then attended two one day workshops, where they learned how to manage their health conditions at work. The next stage was a four day course over two weeks, delivered by RE:SOURCE, designed to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience.
Customers then completed a four week work placement with RE:SOURCE, working three days a week in a suitable area of interest, including bikes, electrical, furniture, retail and transport. Throughout the placement they received one-to-one careers, information, advice and guidance sessions, and employability skills training which included CV writing, interview techniques and job searching.
Terry, a participant, said while on the course: “I’m enjoying it, and I want to see if I can do more hours here so that I can get comfortable with doing more hours to help get me back to work. I have learned how to work as part of a team, how to work on my own and, if there is a problem, to ask someone so that we can sort it out.”
At the end of the placement participants were referred back to Prospects, having gained vital work experience and skills development. Since then two customers have had job interviews.
Sue, another participant, said: “My hope for the future is to go back into work and I feel very positive about that. I think this programme will have helped to make that happen quicker. I was already working towards it by doing courses but this has helped boost my confidence a lot more and brought me a bit closer to my goal. Plus I have now got the opportunity to stay at RE:SOURCE to do my customer services qualification, which is something else to add to my new CV!”