Future Opportunities is funded through The Henry Smith Charity for 3 years from January 1st 2020 to December 31st 2022. This project has replaced our previous STEP programme where funding ceased in December 2020.
It offers intensive, holistic work with 200 people from BAME communities in Leeds who are facing extreme barriers to employment. We have a full-time Key Worker providing one-to-one coaching and support to 67 people per year.
We not only address training and employment-support needs, but also provide advice, information and onward referrals to ensure people’s wider challenges that negatively impact their lives, confidence and ability to secure employment (e.g. benefit entitlements, family support needs) are addressed.
We typically work with each person for 6-months. We begin with a holistic assessment, undertaken face-to-face at our centrally-located offices, lasting approximately two hours. This includes a detailed numeracy and English assessment, covering speaking and writing. If people speak very little English, some may choose to bring a friend as a translator or we are skilled at communicating with people with lower levels of English.
We explore people’s qualifications and past employment (if any) from their home country; their current situation and values/motivation in seeking employment. We look at what roles they’d like to do and the skills they need. We cover their personal situation, including refugee status, housing, family and health and wellbeing. We review their income and whether they’re receiving the correct benefit entitlements.
Following the assessment, we work with each person to create an Individual Learning Plan. Each plan is tailored to the person’s specific needs and goals from our support. Many plans include undertaking an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course, but other elements vary widely depending on circumstances. We then help people implement their plans, including booking them on our courses (e.g. ESOL and skills courses, such as IT), helping them access courses and support from partner organisations where needed.
Over the following 6 months, the Key Worker will meet 1-2-1, face-to-face with each client once or twice a month. Every session is different and depends where the person is on their Individual Learning Plan but, alongside learning English, is likely to include: a) Support with skills development, especially to improve confidence/self-esteem; b) Help accessing other support, including therapeutic help, e.g. if people have suffered trauma before arriving in the UK; help with benefits or getting an NI number; c) Support on effective job search; d) Interview techniques, including mock interviews with employers; e) Coaching on CV writing and completing application forms; f) Arranging work experience placements. In between face-to-face meetings, our Key Worker provides people with support and advice by phone, typically at least once a week.
Towards the end of the six-months, the Key Worker meets with everyone to assess progress and consider the next steps. Based on past results, we expect 56 people (28%) to find paid employment during the six- months, (70) 35% will move on to further education or training. Of the remaining 37%, some people’s personal circumstances change and they may no longer be looking for work. Others continue their search using the skills learned during their time with us. Our Key Worker remains available to provide informal advice to everyone until they find a job or stop looking.