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Employment

support at

Stockport Homes

Tr a n s fo r m in g L i ves

www.stockporthomes.org

Employment support at Stockport Homes

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Introduction Stockport Homes is committed to increasing employment opportunities for people who have faced difficulty finding work or who have been out of work for some time. Supported employment opportunities within Stockport Homes have allowed previously unemployed customers and local people to gain valuable work experience. A number of people have then secured permanent employment or extensions to their original contract with Stockport Homes. In addition to this, work experience and apprenticeship placements are regularly created and offered to customers. Some Stockport Homes vacancies are recruited through non-traditional methods, such as work trials, removing barriers to employment for people who struggle to demonstrate their skills through formal recruitment processes like interviews.

In 2010/11, 48% of entry level vacancies were recruited without formal interviews.

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By providing these opportunities, Stockport Homes not only ensures that a wider range of applicants can demonstrate their ability and achieve employment, but the organisation is also fulfilling its commitment to social inclusion. To maximise the employment and work experience opportunities available, Stockport Homes currently works in partnership with a number of supported employment providers who are described in more detail later in this booklet. Three people who have benefitted from supported employment share their stories on the following pages. 2

Employment support at Stockport Homes


Alan's Story Prior to working for Stockport Homes I had been out of work for five years due to a disability that forced me to quit my last job. I came to a point in my life, with all three of my children in school, where I could look for work again. It had to be in a less physically demanding job, but the opportunity was there.

Finding Support I enquired at the Job Centre to see if there was any specialised help for people in my situation and I was referred onto an organisation called Remploy which provides a range of employment services to support disabled people and those experiencing difficulties getting back to work. At Remploy I gained help with improving my CV, filling out application forms and I was given up to date news about recent job vacancies. As a help towards gaining employment it was recognised that although I was computer literate I could do with learning about Microsoft Office and gaining a recognised qualification. I started on the ECDL course which I have recently finished. At Remploy the main thing that I am most grateful for is the boost in confidence it gave me. I felt capable again and most importantly – employable. This is largely due to the expertise of Remploy staff who went through my Employment support at Stockport Homes

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abilities and previous job roles and made me realise that a lot of job vacancies I was letting pass me by were actually realistic possibilities for me. I managed to get a job with Stockport Homes through their Supported Employment Programme, which helps people like me who have been out of work for a while. I have now been working at Stockport Homes since September 2010 and for six months into my employment I still had the support from Remploy if I was ever in need of it.

At Stockport Homes Working on the Social Inclusion Team as an Administrative Assistant I have been made to feel very welcome by all the team. My line manager has helped me settle into my role and I have learned from his expertise. Stockport Homes has provided the funding towards an ergonomic chair, mouse and flex desk which assists me in my day to day working and helps me to manage my disability. I have also been provided with physiotherapy sessions through SportsMed, also funded by Stockport Homes, which has been a tremendous help. Since starting working here I have learned that my position was targeted to people with disabilities. “I think Stockport Homes as an organisation should be very proud of itself for supporting people back into work in this way. I am very grateful for this opportunity.�

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Employment support at Stockport Homes


Nathan’s Story Whilst at college, I had unsuccessfully been looking for part-time work to supplement my income. When I finished the college course I immediately went to Jobcentre Plus to ask if there was any help I could get in finding employment.

Finding Support After approximately six months of searching for work I was contacted about the Future Jobs Fund. The fund aimed to create jobs for 18-24 year olds and offered six months’ paid employment where people could gain skills and experience that ideally could be used as a springboard into full-time employment. I have had interviews before, but was unsuccessful in gaining employment and at this point in my life my confidence was at a low ebb. The course helped with my confidence, I gained help with my CV and was told of jobs that were being advertised and funded by the Future Jobs Fund. I was successful in gaining a six month contract at Stockport Homes that was funded by the Future Jobs Fund. This was a period for me to gain skills and experience in the working sector but there was no guarantee that the position could be made permanent at the end of the six months. What I did, however, was impress with my diligent attitude, teamwork and willingness to learn and develop.

Employment support at Stockport Homes

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I gained valuable experience and skills that were to prove vital six months later.

At Stockport Homes After my six month contract had ended it was decided by Stockport Homes that there was a need for a longer term position. The ‘Caretaking Services Clerical Assistant’ post was created and advertised. At the time I was still looking for work and was checking the your council jobs website. Seeing that the post was available I applied for it and ended up being successful at the interview. Due to unfortunate circumstances I suffered a serious health scare just prior to the start of my job. I was hospitalised for ten days and had approximately a month’s time in recovery. This delayed my start time with Stockport Homes. I am very appreciative that my position was kept for me whilst I was in hospital. I was ‘over the moon’ when told I was successful at interview and I am delighted to be back with the team I had worked with previously.

“The best part about working for Stockport Homes is the atmosphere within the office. Everyone is available to assist you within the team, but more impressive is that everyone is available and willing to be approached all the way up to the Chief Executive. That feels unique; this is the best job I have had so far.”

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Employment support at Stockport Homes


Louise’s Story Before Stockport Homes, I was out of work for five years due to a back problem which ultimately required surgery. I spent these years living on Incapacity Benefit and after having to go through a risky operation; I had to spend some time in recovery. When I felt fit and ready for the challenge, I started to look for part-time employment.

Finding Support For approximately a year I struggled to find employment. In an effort to find help I searched for organisations that specialise in helping people back into work but struggled to find suitable support. I was surprised to receive a letter in the post from Stockport Homes which informed me of a course with Groundwork – “Successful Transitions”, which is a twelve week course that gives training and support to people who have been out of work for a lengthy period of time. On completion of the course I was guaranteed an interview with Stockport Homes. I completed the course during which I received support and guidance with interview techniques, confidence building, modifying CVs and filling out application forms. One thing that stood out for me was that everyone who attended the course was in a similar position and they were all genuine job seekers.

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Everyone on the course at the same time as me ended up being successful in gaining employment, a voluntary position or a relevant college course. Six months after the course, Groundwork worked on a project and created a video to promote the work they do. They drafted in help from the BBC and Ranvir Singh, the presenter from North West Tonight, got involved. At a time of government cuts Groundwork wanted to present a case about the important work they carry out with local communities and the video was presented to Iain Duncan Smith, who at the time was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. I was drafted in to be involved in this project and it is now available on YouTube.

At Stockport Homes I gained employment at Stockport Homes on a six month contract as a part-time HR Clerical Assistant. This suited me as I wanted to take a gentle step back into working life. By working part-time I used it as a test to see how I could cope physically and to see if full-time work was something I could realistically do. Within Stockport Homes I have since worked on the Homechoice Team (two x six month contracts) on a job-share basis, which was again a part-time position, and currently, I am employed on a permanent contract as Administration Assistant in the Customer Involvement Team. This role is a full-time position and I now feel confident that I can manage full-time employment. I feel that I get support from Stockport Homes with flexibility around any hospital appointments and am encouraged not to sit in my chair for long periods of time. Working in the Customer Involvement Team I feel that I don’t just get to do basic admin work but I’m encouraged 8

Employment support at Stockport Homes


to get involved in other work like meetings and forums and this helps make my role more interesting. At customer forums I find it is particularly interesting because I get to meet customers face-to-face rather than over the telephone. Personal development has been encouraged and I have attained NVQ level 2 on the FlexiQual course which is an IT based course dealing with Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint. After being with Stockport Homes for 21 months I am enjoying being back in the swing of things and feel there is a reason to get up in the morning. When I was told I had the job in January 2010, I was absolutely elated. “After twelve months of trying to find a job I thought finally someone is going to give me a chance, it was a great feeling – and since I have started at Stockport Homes I have been made to feel valued.”

11 people

In 2010/11, secured work through supported employment.

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Supported Employment Programme Partners National Apprenticeship Scheme Stockport Homes works in partnership with Stockport Council and a number of local NVQ providers to promote youth employment through the National Apprenticeship Scheme. This scheme is open to Stockport residents who are either finishing education or are currently unemployed. Successful apprentices, during their time with Stockport Homes, have the opportunity of working in housing and are supported to complete an NVQ qualification linked to their role. They can attend other training organised by Stockport Homes and are supported by the Human Resources Team to build up their work experience to prepare them for permanent employment. Stockport Homes expanded its Apprenticeship Scheme during 2012/13 with a total of five positions on offer, and supports National Apprenticeship Week as part of its commitment to helping young people achieve their goals through apprenticeships. Jobcentre Plus Stockport Homes works with Jobcentre Plus to attract applications from unemployed people currently seeking work. Jobcentre Plus support all under represented groups to assist people in gaining employment.

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Employment support at Stockport Homes


Work Solutions Work Solutions is a national organisation which provides employment support to anyone who is currently unemployed. Work Solutions also provide additional support to candidates where necessary, usually those who have not been employed for some time due to illness or caring responsibilities. Standguide Standguide is an organisation with offices in the North West region that provides employment support to anyone who is currently unemployed. They provide support to candidates from the first day of unemployment, and where necessary provide additional training after a candidate has started employment. Groundwork Groundwork is a group of charities that provide training to help people build skills and job prospects. Groundwork work in partnership with Stockport Homes to deliver the ‘Successful Transitions’ course. Groundwork provides 12 week training courses to Stockport Homes tenants, with a number of ‘graduates’ in each course being given a six month volunteering placement with Stockport Homes to gain valuable work experience. Stockport Homes pays reasonable expenses for travel, childcare and lunch and candidates can work up to 37 hours per week, depending on individual availability and needs of the department. The roles can cover administrative support, general manual work or support services work as required by the service. Employment support at Stockport Homes

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PURE Innovations PURE Innovations is a Stockport based organisation that work closely with local organisations to provide paid placements to their clients. Although the majority of their clients are people with learning and/or physical impairments, they also provide a range of support for underrepresented groups such as homeless people, refugees, people with previous mental health issues, looked after children and care leavers. Due to the needs of the clients, it is recognised that there may be a requirement for additional support prior to and during employment. This may include the submission of CVs instead of application forms, a support worker organising additional funding to purchase adapted equipment once the candidate is in post, or even remaining in contact for the initial three months of employment to provide additional support and training. PURE are also able to meet with recruiting managers to establish whether they have suitable candidates. PURE also arrange for year-long placements for care leavers through its ‘Corporate Parenting’ programme, where organisations will be required to pay the appropriate minimum wage rate for the care leaver. Remploy Remploy is a national organisation which provides employment support to disabled candidates who are currently unemployed. Remploy also provide additional support to candidates where necessary, which continues during contracts of employment as necessary. 12

Employment support at Stockport Homes


Work Placement Programme (Formally Compass) Work placement programme is part of Stockport Council’s Children and Young People’s Services, and seeks to find practical work-based placements for school children aged between 14 and 19 years of age with an employer in the vocational area the student has expressed an interest in. Work Placement Programme organises long-term work experience placements for schoolchildren in Year 10 and 11 at school for between one and four days per week, depending the organisation and on the age of the student. These are mainly students who would either benefit from gaining more practical experience over academic study, and are those most likely to find securing employment or college places difficult without early intervention. There are no cost implications for the placements, though it is expected that students will receive supervision and mentoring from a member of the team. The placements usually last for the current school year (up to nine months depending on when they start the placement), though arrangements can be made for a continuation of the placement for a second year dependant on individual circumstances. Work placement programme also organise presentations from employers to provide information on vocational areas such interactive media, construction, social care or business administration. In addition, shorter term projects for individual or groups of college students to complete can be arranged for the same areas, for example organising a staff conference or awards ceremony.

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Education Business Services (EBS) EBS is contracted by secondary schools in Stockport to arrange one week work experience placements for Year 10 students, typically aged 14-15 years old. There are no cost implications for the placements, though it is expected that students will receive supervision and mentoring from a member of the team.

Glossary of terms Long-term unemployed Usually used to mean people who have been unemployed for six months or longer. Minimum wage rates 21 years old and over £6.08, 18 to 20 years old £4.98, 16 to 17 years old £3.68 Work trial Sometimes, Stockport Homes can best assess someone’s skills and suitability for a job role using unpaid work trials. This is usually a period of between one and three weeks where candidates complete the duties of the job to help Stockport Homes see if they are suitable for the role. Candidates can try the post for up to three weeks without losing any benefits they receive, and there are no cost implications to the organisation during the work trial.

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Employment support at Stockport Homes


Useful contact numbers Should you have any queries regarding the programme or any of the Supported Employment Programme Partners, please contact a member of the Stockport Homes Human Resources Team on 0161 474 2853. Stockport Homes’ 0161 474 2836 Employment Support Officer Job Centre Plus, Stockport 0161 429 2000 Work Solutions

0161 474 8360

Standguide 0161 962 9901 Groundwork 0161 220 1000 PURE Innovations

0161 474 5900

Remploy 0300 456 8028 Work Placement Programme

0161 480 2679

Education Business Services (EBS)

0161 474 2350

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Employment support at Stockport Homes

Ref: 1019-03/04/2012-EG

Tr a n s fo r m in g L i ves


Supported Employment booklet