Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Member of Parliament for Torfaen and Labour's Shadow Minister for Employment, welcomed the enhanced support offered to Londoners trying to find work at Shaw Trust's Community Hub in Hackney. The hub is based in the heart of Hackney on Ramsgate Street where it offers support to people of all abilities and backgrounds. Shaw Trust delivers the Work Programme from both its hubs in Hackney and Lewisham - a back to work scheme supporting people experiencing long-term unemployment into sustainable employment.
Shaw Trust, the national employment, learning and skills charity, welcomed the Shadow Minister to its hub to witness first-hand how the transformed centre, operating with additional advisors and reduced caseload sizes, is helping long-term unemployed people. At the hub, jobseekers receive a bespoke service that is tailored to their specific needs to help them overcome the barriers holding them back from finding employment.
In September 2014, Shaw Trust transformed two of its Work Programme delivery centres in Hackney and Lewisham into Community Hubs. The pilots are designed to enable innovation both in the way that jobseekers and staff interact and the services that are available. In order to continuously support their jobseekers, particularly those who face health barriers into work, Shaw Trust has created a place where they feel more comfortable about engaging with the Work Programme. There is a range of health and wellbeing support on offer at the hubs. Jobseekers 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 individual needs. It is a one-stop-shop for the employment and wellbeing services that jobseekers require.
Hackney's Community Hub has achieved some great outcomes. One jobseeker supported by the hub is Kazeem Essoh, a 23 year old, who has lived in Hackney all his life. When he first came to Shaw Trust, Kazeem had very low confidence, experiencing depression and anxiety. He was unable to communicate effectively and to let anyone understand where his anger stemmed from. He was unable to read, write and articulate himself. Kazeem's advisor identified that he had learning difficulties, and realised that he would need intensive support to help him progress towards work. During the two year programme, Kazeem had multiple mock interviews, attending events run by ITV, Barclays and Michael Page. His confidence and general wellbeing improved considerably at the Hackney Community Hub, he felt ready and able to work once he completed the Work Programme.Kazeem achieved great deal at the hub and has used what he learnt with Shaw Trust to find work at Amazon and a cinema.
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 satisfaction levels and better Work Programme participant engagement.
Having gained further insight into the full range of Shaw Trust's services and activities, the Shadow Minister welcomed the performance of both Community Hubs. The Shadow Minister also spent time meeting staff and jobseekers to understand some of the key challenges faced in London when people try to find sustainable work after a period of long-term unemployment.
Shadow Minister for Employment, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, said:
"I was delighted to visit Shaw Trust's Community Hub in Hackney. They have shown that a holistic approach to employment support does help more jobseekers realise their work ambitions. The Work Foundation evaluation of both Community Hubs highlights the importance of delivering personalised employment services so that jobseekers get the support they need and want.
"It is vital that this important work can continue and I have real concerns about the impact of Government cuts to the employment support budget. There are still too many unanswered questions around the new Work and Health Programme and these must be addressed so that employment support providers like the Shaw Trust can plan for the future."
Roy O'Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of Shaw Trust, added:
"Shaw Trust is committed to working with all mainstream political parties to help reduce unemployment. We are happy to share our employment research, industry knowledge and expertise to aid thinking on future policy development for the good of the people we support into jobs every year. It was great to meet the Shadow Minister for Employment and to discuss how our Community Hubs transform lives. By investing support towards jobseekers with a range of barriers, including those with health problems, more people can find sustainable employment."