Penny Mordaunt, the new Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health, visited Shaw Trust’s Community Hub in Hackney to learn more about how the charity helps people into work.
Shaw Trust, the national employment, learning and skills charity, welcomed the Minister to its Hackney Hub to witness first-hand how the transformed centre, operating with additional advisors and reduced caseload sizes, helps people experiencing long-term unemployment.
In September 2014, Shaw Trust transformed two of their Work Programme delivery centres in Hackney and Lewisham into Community Hubs. The Hubs are designed to enable innovation both in the way that customers and staff interact as well as the services that are available to jobseekers. There is a range of health and wellbeing support on offer at the hubs. People can access counselling sessions, support from healthcare professionals, advice on healthy living and even yoga classes.
The hubs aim to improve skills and motivation and provide training that is tailored to people’s individual needs. It is a one-stop-shop for employment and wellbeing support to help people overcome their barriers to work.
Both Community Hubs recently took part in an evaluation by the Work Foundation, who carried out a 12-month independent review of both pilots. Their review found a statistically significant increase in performance, an increase in staff and customer satisfaction levels and better Work Programme participant engagement.
After touring the Community Hub, Penny Mordaunt spent time with staff and jobseekers to understand their experience of the Work Programme. The Minister also met Shaw Trust’s Chief Executive to discuss how the charitable sector can drive better outcomes in employment services and work with employers to promote the business benefits of employing a workforce of all abilities and backgrounds.
Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, said:
“From mental health problems and physical disabilities to loss of confidence or gaps in skills, we know there are many reasons for long-term unemployment and it’s crucial that people get the support they need. Too many people don’t get that, and we must ensure they do.
“Halving the disability employment gap is my top priority, and the Community Hub is a great example of how the right support helps people realise their potential.”
Hackney’s Community Hub works with many people who are determined to find employment. One jobseeker supported by the hub is William Davies, a 56 year old, who lives in London. William first came to Shaw Trust in October 2014. In the beginning, he was shy, quiet and anxious, but with intense one-to-one and group sessions, he began to slowly come out of his shell.
William has bipolar disorder and has been HIV positive for over 20 years. He opened up about his condition, and how it had negatively impacted his mental state and wellbeing. He stressed that he would never be able to change and he didn’t think anyone would hire him when they found out about his condition. After talking openly about his condition, William decided he would like to do volunteering work in the HIV field. Shaw Trust set up an interview for a volunteering role with a HIV counselling service, which William was successful for.
At the counselling service, William’s confidence increased, and he now feels more able to interview for paid positions. William recently secured a temporary job at a local call centre and when that came to an end he decided to volunteer at Shaw Trust’s charity shop in Stoke Newington. The volunteering role has helped William gain more valuable work experience. His Shaw Trust advisor has noticed an immense change in William from when they first met, and he is now confident, outgoing and eager to progress. Shaw Trust has no doubt he will be in work soon.
Roy O'Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of Shaw Trust, added:
“I am delighted we could host a visit for Penny Mordaunt within her first month at the Department for Work and Pensions. We discussed how best to build on the success of existing employment support programmes to continue the downward trend of unemployment figures across the United Kingdom. Our Community Hubs prove that personalised support that addresses work and health needs is the most effective way to help people realise their life ambitions.”