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Progress2work: November Update

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

The progress2work team have been focusing on wellbeing and support this November. With the arrival of the second lockdown, the mental health and welfare of our clients and the wider communities we work in have been at the forefront of our delivery and events this month.

We held Wellbeing Workshops throughout the lockdown which were open to clients and members of the community not signed on the programme. These events helped guests to develop their team-working and communication skills, which the guests learned were important not only for their careers, but also for their own wellbeing. The feedback from these events has been really positive; here are a few quotes from our guests:

“I learned to communicate with other people at the workshop. It was quite enjoyable, and a nice relaxed atmosphere”

“I learned how to relax and take a step back. The team were able to listen to me and were interested in what I had to say”

“The workshop was really interesting and motivating”

The first wellbeing workshop in Bradford sparked an interest with the guests to learn more about the programme and get involved. Based on this feedback, the team piloted a wellbeing walking group. Adhering to COVID-19 Guidelines, the group was support-based and helped clients to open up and become more comfortable with our team. Building relationships of trust is key for our delivery team and our clients so that they can get the most out of the programme. Participants in the walking group learned more about the history of the area (as taught by our canal-expert VTC Hadji), and about the support they could access on the programme. Visiting the canal at Apperley Bridge, the feedback from our participants was that they enjoyed finding a hidden gem that they hadn’t discovered before, so close to home.

We held another round of virtual launches for potential partners and referral sources. With events happening in all three locations – Bradford, Leeds and Kirklees – we covered a lot of ground and spread the word about progress2work. From these launches, we have formed some new relationships and links which we’ll be able to build on in the coming months. These links will support our programme through creating referral streams, as well as supporting our delivery by contributing to the expertise we can use to help our clients overcome challenges.

We’ve had some promising partnership meetings this month, including an introduction at Sensory World in Dewsbury. The organisation supports those with all abilities, focusing on those with learning and sensory difficulties by creating a multi-sensory centre with therapeutic and entertaining facilities. It’s a great link to have within the community in Dewsbury and it will be interesting to see how our relationship develops with the organisation. We’ve also had meetings with Act Early Holmewood, JCP Southern House, Employment and Skills at Leeds City Council, and Works Better Enhanced. To boost our networking and partnerships, we have planned more network activities in December to focus on building weaker relationships and building new ones with employers, more third-sector organisations, and other partners.

The whole team has taken part in training opportunities this month, participating in the piloting of Aspire-International’s ACCEnT Project. The project delivers an e-training course for counselling practitioners. Our team has sampled a number of the modules and units on offer – particularly the unit on Hard-to-Reach Groups. Many of our clients have characteristics which make them more isolated, so the expertise that this training course offers is helpful to boost our understanding of how to deal with specific challenges which might come from these characteristics.

As we move into December, the areas we are operating in are all in Tier 3 under the Government’s Coronavirus Tier System. We will continue to follow government guidelines, in line with Aspire-igen’s commitment to keeping staff and participants safe and healthy. The progress2work team will continue to develop creative solutions to challenges we face to the delivery of our project, particularly so we can maintain the support we offer to our clients and to the wider community. We’re looking forward to our final month in 2020, when we will be reviewing our progress2date, evaluating our delivery so far, and planning for the new year.

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