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Progress2work: September Update

Progress2work is an adult employability project funded by the European Social Fund. The programme seeks to support those further from the labour market using new and tried and tested methods.  

September has brought plenty of new things for the progress2work team. We’re excited to announce that as of this month, we have a full team working with us – thanks to the arrival of our final Volunteer Training Coordinator Alex! Her previous experience includes working within a large charity, helping young people access volunteering opportunities. She enjoyed helping young people expand their horizons, build their skills and improve their experience to get them ready for jobs, and we’re excited to see her in action with our clients. We’ve also had a number of sign-ups to the programme, so the team has been busy piloting the programme with new clients.


As well as supporting our new clients, the team has been busy engaging with new partners and finding new sources of referrals. We’re looking forward to working with a variety of organisations who share our vision and drive for bringing socially excluded adults into the labour market. Womenzone – an organisation in Bradford dedicated to supporting women of all ages – are looking forward to working with us later this month. We’ve also been in contact with the Family Hub in East Bradford, who agreed to promote our project and refer potential clients to us.


We have been looking at digital inclusion this month – how we can help our clients and the wider community to improve their digital access and skills. As part of this, we are preparing to work closer with 100% Digital Leeds, a Leeds City Council initiative to improve digital inclusion throughout Leeds. Research suggests that a lack of digital access and skills are large barriers to employment for many people. By forming a relationship with the 100% Digital Leeds team, we can create more opportunities for our clients. Stay tuned for updates on digital inclusion within Bradford and Dewsbury coming soon.


Another partnership we’re developing is with NHS Social Prescribers in the areas we’re working in. In Bradford, the Social Prescribers we have relationships with are willing to work with us and let us add value to their existing support. We have had a number of referrals from the areas, and we’re working to help them overcome their individual challenges. In Leeds, we have 9 Social Prescribers on board with the project, with one facilitating a presentation to her team of 11 from one of our Volunteer Training Coordinators. This relationship is very positive and will hopefully provide not only a source of referrals, but lasting support from influential and like-minded support organisations in the area. We’re looking to replicate this relationship within our areas in Kirklees, with upcoming meetings with Volunteering Kirklees and More in Common, we’re raring to go with new contacts and links to build our referral streams in the area.


This month we held our first launch events! To ensure we followed Covid-19 guidelines, we held different style launches in The Opportunity Centres on Bradford, Leeds, and Dewsbury. In Leeds, we set up a stall outside the Centre, and spoke to potential clients passing by. It was a wonderfully sunny day, so our Leeds team (pictured) spoke to plenty of people and managed to make 6 new referrals! In Bradford, the Chamber Hall allowed us to host a presentation to potential partners, in addition to an outdoor stall to speak to people. Our Dewsbury launch was similar – using our dedicated progress2work room and setting up a stall outside. They have been a good way to promote our presence, and despite the challenges we have faced due to new guidelines, the team have been proactive and enthusiastic to make the most out of the events! We are delighted to be working with partners Electronic Village in Dewsbury who deliver digital access and support to residents in the Dewsbury and Batley areas, we are excited to begin to complement their services with the Progress2work team offering job search support and liaising to gain ESOL access for their service users.


We held our first virtual steering group meeting at the end of the month with some of our high-level partners. The steering group will help us to keep the project on the right track – keeping us up-to-date on progress in our areas, in particular the CLLD areas and Kirklees Council provisions which we aim to add value to. The steering group members will signpost us to important referral sources, support providers we could partner with, and additional opportunities which would enrich the programme.
From the beginning of this project, we have had to adapt and deal with the challenges presented by the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19. This month one of our Employment Key Workers, Allison, has adapted her support in a creative way! One of her clients requires extra support with speaking English as a second language (ESOL). Unfortunately, nearby ESOL training centres aren’t open or are operating at a reduced capacity, so Allison has decided to take her meetings with her client out of the office and into the town centre. This way, her client can improve their English speaking skills by putting them into practice, as well as learning more about their local area.


In the coming weeks we’re planning more exciting things for the project. We’re hosting virtual launches for Bradford, Leeds, and Kirklees partners at the start of November – contact us as progress2work@aspire-igen.com to get more information and register your interest! We’re also discussing possibilities of working together with Aspire-International to hold a virtual careers event. As always, keep your eyes peeled for further information on our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts!


One big success this month has been achieving our first job start! We are well under way with supporting our growing number of clients – helping them in a variety of ways and giving them the tailored support they need to sustainably progress into work.

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