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Progress2work: January 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.  

Happy New Year from the progress2work team! After an exciting 6 months, we’d like to take the opportunity in this Monthly Update to review our activity in 2020 and set out our plans for the future.
Despite the progress2work project beginning and being run during the course of the COVID outbreak and pandemic, we have achieved a number of successes and begun to really make a difference in local communities in Bradford, Leeds and Kirklees. We have had 45 participants fully enrolled on the programme since September 2020, with further individuals pending enrolment.

The support delivered by progress2work is intensive, and – usually – most effective face-to-face, so we have had to adapt existing techniques and try new methods to maintain the same level of support. The aim for inclusivity has shaped our delivery in the first 6 months of our project, and we have ensured that progress2work support is accessible by all. The ability to meet face-to-face in the Opportunity Centres has been invaluable for supporting those who have barriers to digital access, or those with disabilities meaning they cannot access or benefit fully from virtual support. Where possible, we’re aiming to continue offering the range of accessibility to our participants, giving them the option to access digital or face-to-face support as needed.

The New Year heralded an important deadline for the progress2work team – we have been working towards our Project Inception Visit (PIV) and the associated actions to make sure we are running the project as it should be. The preparation involved collecting documents, reviewing practices and checking resources to ensure they are all compliant and appropriate for the project. The PIV meeting with our contract manager went well, and we’re glad to have the support we need to ensure the project is run the best it can be.

As we moved into another lockdown, our plans for various groups and events like the Tea and Talk sessions and Walk and Talk groups were put on hold. In December we had planned a number of different activities both for delivery with our clients, and behind the scenes: networking, meetings, and more. Instead this month, we have taken the time to review our practices, undertake research, and thoroughly set out our plans for the next few months.

One brilliant resource we have created over lockdown is our Wellbeing Pack!

Wellbeing and mental health have been at the forefront of our plans since the second lockdown in November, and we wanted to produce resources which our clients could follow along and use in their own time.

The pack contains a PowerPoint, which clients can dip in and out of, and follow along in whichever way works best for them. The presentation is mirrored with a booklet; giving extra information, setting out interactive activities and providing signposting links so clients can take the wellbeing pack further. The pack is designed to complement virtual sessions with our therapeutic worker, and covers topics like mental health, goal setting, and positive thinking.

Here’s a sneak peek of the booklet!

In terms of partnerships, we had a very positive meeting with the Bradford Employment Hub team this month. We had a chance to present our project, and discuss eligibility and potential referral streams between our two projects. There are opportunities to progress Employment Hub participants on to progress2work if they have reached their exit point and need extra support to achieve progressions, so this is an avenue we will be exploring further. The Employment Hub is also delivered by aspire-igen, so we’re looking forward to more collaborative work in the future!

We also attended a webinar this month, held by the Holmewood Project. The webinar was focused around data science and was incredibly educational – we learned new techniques of research, how to maximise the quality of our research, and how we can better use the feedback and data we collect to help to shape the programme. The webinar gave us some very interesting insights on how we can deliver the research and evaluation aspect of the project to an even higher quality. We also learned how other projects have used data and feedback to shape their delivery within Holmewood.

As the lockdown put a hold on plans for our Tea and Talk events, this gave the delivery team a chance to reconsider the plans, and ‘rebrand’ the event to better suit delivery, and the needs of our clients. The new events being planned combine training and information sessions with external expertise. By inviting representatives from a range of organisations and backgrounds as guest speakers, the new Tea and Talk plans include sessions on a whole host of different topics: for example, men’s and women’s health, money management, and survival skills! This will form part of the delivery for existing clients, and will give new prospective clients a sneak peek of what they could gain upon joining the programme.

Stay tuned for more news on the Tea and Talk event plans!

Networking with Job Centre Plus teams in our areas has been focused on how we can best support their customers and improve our provision. This has led us to begin to develop an Over 50’s employability package. This Package of Services includes various sessions which the JCP will be able to refer their customers to, and act as an introduction not only to employability training, but the whole progress2work programme. The package will cover topics such as ‘myth-busting’, skills and experience identifying, and motivational sessions aimed at those over 50, combating specific barriers to employment they may face. This is a great opportunity to specialise our content towards a certain group, and to boost our expertise and knowledge of working with Over 50s to get them closer to the labour market.

Despite the lockdown, the progress2work team have hit January with fresh energy and excitement for the months ahead. In order to support the wider community over lockdown, the team have set up a ‘Progress2Chat’ Facebook forum, where people can send in questions covering a range of topics, and the team will reply with answers, information and additional signposting links. Check out the page here, and send in a question!

Click here to go to our project page to find out more and contact us.

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