More than 150 people have signed up to a new programme to help get people furthest from the labour market into work – just four weeks after it officially launched.
The £3m Accelerate project unveiled the first big milestone had been achieved at a special event held in Coventry to give people more information on what support is available to them.
More than 200 individuals turned out at Central Hall to find out about the initiative, which has been designed to help nearly 900 of Coventry and Warwickshire’s most disadvantaged people to tackle barriers preventing them from getting a job or becoming self-employed.
They heard how 23 local employability partners have come together to provide each participant with a single access point to confidence building, work experience and skills enhancement, including training on IT, Literacy, Numeracy and Enterprise.
There was also the opportunity for them to walk round the large Information Fair and take part in bite size training sessions, such as recording a radio interview, first steps to starting a business and an interactive healthy eating workshop.
“The response we have had from people in Coventry and Warwickshire has been fantastic and we certainly didn’t expect to pass 150 participants in such a short space of time,” explained Tamy Matanky, who is leading the project on behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire CDA.
“We know there is a real need to reach out to individuals who are unemployed or economically inactive, including those with disabilities, mental health issues, ex-offenders, people who are over 50 years-old and Black and Minority (BME) communities.”
She continued: “Accelerate is different to other employment support initiatives that have been tried before and works because each participant receives individual employment advice and support to overcome the barriers holding them back.
“Individuals can contact any Accelerate partner to sign-up for our support, or be referred, and the first thing we do is introduce them to a Journey Guide who works with them to design a package of support that meets their requirements. It could be confidence building, mentoring or specialist advice provided by one or more of our 23 partners.”
Accelerate, which is part of ‘Building Better Opportunities’ - a programme jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund, held the launch event to bring all of its delivery partners together and then showcase the expertise and opportunities available to people in Coventry.
It received the public backing of Coventry and Warwickshire LEP Board Member Sarah Windrum and Sue Ormiston (Big Lottery Fund), whilst Sue Ogle (Voluntary Action Coventry) and Coventry Cyrenians’ Mike Flower provided their views on the difference it will make on the ground in the City and surrounding towns.
Local radio stations Radio Plus and Hillz FM were also broadcasting throughout the day and the Information Fair showcased the range of courses and one to one support on offer to job seekers who are struggling to find employment.
Tamy concluded: “150 is a big milestone for us to pass so early on in the project and we feel confident that we will be able to deliver the advice and guidance people need to overcome their barriers and find sustainable employment.”
Colin Maycock is one of the first people to be supported through the new initiative. The former Maintenance Supervisor suffered a stroke on holiday in the US in 2014 and this left him requiring surgery, barely able to walk and struggling with his speech.
He first accessed Coventry and Warwickshire CDA’s Changing Gears programme, which provided him with initial advice and guidance on how he could start to put his life back together and seek employment.
From there he moved on to Accelerate and, working with his Journey Guide Maxine Wykes he was able to access subsidised gym membership to help with his rehabilitation and take part in a number of confidence building exercises.
“It was the constant encouragement that I really appreciated and the fact that you knew people are there to support you as you find a new direction,” explained Colin, who was 57 this year.
“I made it clear early on that I wanted to return to work and would like to give something back, so Accelerate put me in touch with The Stroke Association and I’ve just started to volunteer there.
“It’s early days as I’m learning all of the different modules involved with the job, but I’m really enjoying being back in the workplace. I’ll probably start off with some admin duties and then move on to one-on-one support with other stroke sufferers so I can help them get their lives back on track.”
He concluded: “I would love to gain full-time employment there. That’s the long-term aim and one I’m going to give 110% to try to achieve.”
For further information, please visit www.accelerate.org.uk or follow @AccelerateCW on twitter or facebook.
Pictured l-r: Dave Sternberg (Coventry & Warwickshire CDA), Sue Ogle (Voluntary Action Coventry), Sarah Windrum (Coventry & Warwickshire LEP), Tamy Matanky (Coventry & Warwickshire CDA), Mike Fowler (Coventry Cyrenians) and Sue Ormiston (Big Lottery Fund)