Sky’s the limit thanks to Accelerate into work,
Greg Smith was homeless for many years before moving to the area and finding out about the Accelerate programme through Crisis in Coventry. Crisis put Greg in touch with Hereward College, a partner in the programme who have specialist expertise supporting people with complex issues that may be a barrier to work.
Greg’s ambition has been to work as a certified Football Association coach and gain the skills and qualifications to financially support himself. Through Sky Blues in the Community, Greg has completed the Level 1 Sports Leadership course, accessed further training, a variety of voluntary coaching opportunities and is taking a level 3 tutoring and mentoring course.
Not only has Accelerate given Greg tailored advice on building confidence and the employment market, but he has also received a bicycle to enable him to access the football coaching and work related training sessions.
Hereward College Job Coach, Kate Henderson said:
“Greg has gone from nothing to being able to build a career for himself. He has been supported by a number of Accelerate partners working together to help him achieve his goals, and is an incredibly motivated individual who is committed to making a success of his coaching.”
Hereward College is a partner in Accelerate, a free employment service that can build confidence, offer training, improve skills, provide valuable work experience and access to work.
The programme is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund. It specialises in supporting people who would like to work but for various reasons find it hard to get a job.
Anyone who is currently unemployed, has a disability or additional need and lives in Coventry or Warwickshire can access a dedicated Journey Guide based at Hereward College. The Journey Guide will look at options tailored to individual needs on a one to one basis. This can include job matching, enterprise advice and a holistic approach to barrier breaking.
Hereward student Ellie Sansam was offered the position of Junior Customer Service Adviser at Airwave as a result of her year long supported internship with the company.
Job Coach, Lucy says: “Ellie has been committed and motivated throughout, always looking to find ways to develop her learning and try new things within the workplace, which is what the internship is all about.
“Her confidence has developed enormously and it’s hard to compare her to the person who started the internship last year. Ellie has had fantastic support from her mentor at Airwave who was patient, supportive and encouraging.
“Airwave have made the workplace adjustments needed to accommodate Ellie’s visual impairment to ensure she is able to continue providing the excellent customer services skills she has demonstrated over the past few months.”
Ellie says: “I have developed so many customer service skills and am excited to have gained a full time job here. I owe all this to everyone who has supported me over the year. The internship has allowed me to become a better, more confident person who is ready for work.”
Mava, James and Luke, Whitefriars Housing
Mava Matyhila, James Osborn and Luke Elson undertook work placements with Whitefriars Housing Cleanworks team, to support the maintenance of communal areas.
The young people were supported by a Hereward College Job Coach onsite at Whitefriars to help to ease their transition into the world of work:
“Mava, James and Luke have really grown in confidence since starting the internship and it’s great to see their progress.”
“The Supported Internship programme has helped to develop many skills for our interns, as well as gaining work experience and an opportunity to find work; they have benefitted from the development of several life skills including social, emotional and communication skills while also increasing their overall confidence.”
“The interns have been given the opportunity to learn and practice new skills in the real world, they’re learning how to develop strategies for themselves and deciding what choices to make, which is extremely empowering.”
“Supported Internships has such great value and is the bridge for people with learning disabilities between education and the world of work.”
In addition to the College Job Coach, Whitefriars Housing also allocated their own buddies to assist the interns with their daily tasks.
A cleaner who acted as a buddy for Luke said: “As Luke’s buddy I had to train him on how to do the various tasks within the Cleanworks team, including how to safely use our cleaning chemicals and equipment.”
“It has been an absolute pleasure to teach Luke and be his mentor. When Luke first started he was shy and quiet, but he is now very much part of the team and feels confident to work independently.”
Here’s what each of the interns had to say about the work experience:
Mava, aged 23
“I would recommend this work experience to my friends; it’s fun and you are always learning. It’s also a little bit better than college.”
“The cleaning was a bit difficult at first and it was hard to get used to it, but I can manage it now.”
“I’ve learned how to clean properly, including mopping, sweeping and window cleaning. These new skills are making me stronger and more confident.”
“I have enjoyed the cleaning work, meeting new people and being with the interns. I think I would like a future job in cleaning.”
James, aged 22
“I have learnt so much and I’m really enjoying the work experience. It’s great working with everyone. I’ve learned loads of new skills such as how to clean properly, how to deal with difficult situations and how to work with people.”
“I wanted to do the internship because it was another job I could do to get experience and I can use this in my other work as I’m also an organist and I have a grass cutting service. In the future there are loads of options for me and I think it’s important to keep the door open to everything.”
Luke, aged 19
“I wanted to do this internship to see what work life is like.”
“I am happy being at work, I have done lots of training and learnt new skills in cleaning and I can now use a Numatic floor cleaner.”
“When I first started I was a bit shy, I didn’t talk and I overcame that by talking more, laughing and smiling. I found the placement to be welcoming and I have made new friends. I would like to find a job in cleaning.”
“I would recommend this experience to my friends as it might inspire them to do something they enjoy and they might just get a job out of it.”
Luke has now secured permanent paid employment as a cleaner at Whitefriars Housing as a result of the college’s supported internship programme.
Clive Rose, CleanWorks supervisor at Whitefriars Housing says: “It has been a pleasure working with Luke and we’re thrilled he is now a permanent member of the team. All the interns were very shy to start with so we have enjoyed watching their confidence grow over the months. The internship programme has been a great success and we’re very pleased that we have been able to give these young people this opportunity at the start of their working life.”
Lucy, Business and Administration learner
Lucy studied at Hereward between 2011 and 2014 and on leaving Hereward had completed her Level 2 Business and Administration NVQ Certificate.
Initially starting in performing arts, Lucy realised her talents lay elsewhere and transferred to business administration where she enjoyed all aspects of the course, including telephone work, stationery orders and filing.
Lucy suffered with anxiety and short term memory loss so needed a lot of support in creating a sound structure with guidance and repetition and received this systematic method of working at Hereward. She has now applied this structure to her new supported living accommodation and the world of work.
“At Hereward it’s doing everything, but supported. We looked at a number of different colleges, but Hereward was a very positive experience for Lucy. I always felt that the staff were accessible; all the mentors were very helpful and communicated what was happening.” Lucy’s mum
At Hereward we focus on individual achievement and personalised goals; Lucy’s primary target was to achieve paid employment and increase her confidence levels:
“What I really wanted to achieve from Hereward was paid employment. I wanted to become a lot more confident and I have definitely achieved that. Having a mentor to support me really helped me with this.”
Lucy has excelled with her independence and is currently residing in supported living accommodation and has also secured paid employment at the NHS Trust Headquarters. Through her business administration experience from Hereward, Lucy was offered a volunteering position at the NHS, and from this, testament to her skills and hard work, was offered a part-time paid position, the first time a volunteering role within the scheme has converted into a paid position. The role comprises of working on the switchboard and reception, so Lucy is demonstrating her increase in confidence every time she’s there, dealing with the general public and their enquiries, both over the phone and face-to-face.
"“Hereward helped me to gain independence; I never thought I’d be able to get a job and be independent and now I’m doing both…all of the Hereward staff were very supportive during my time there; they really understood my disability.
“I’m really happy.”
Everyone at Hereward is very proud of Lucy, as Jon Clugston, Vice Principal Student Independence and Progression articulates:
"I am delighted to see the fantastic progress that Lucy has made since leaving Hereward. Her story should act as great inspiration to others; I pay tribute to my colleagues here at Hereward who played such a crucial role in her journey, but most importantly to Lucy, whose efforts and strength of character are a testament to her great achievements.""
Matthew, Sports student
Matthew Arnold left Hereward in 2015 with BTEC level 3 in Sports – having progressed from level 1 when he first started at college.
He now works with his brother running sports clubs for children and organises and manages active summer school holiday clubs in the Warwickshire area which include a whole range of sports from table tennis to football and multisports.
Matthew also gained some work experience during his time at Hereward and is delighted to have recently secured a permanent contract at Homebase – working part-time hours to fit around his sports coaching.
"If it wasn’t for the staff at Hereward who taught me the coaching experience, I wouldn’t be where I am now. They have given me the encouragement and confidence to keep going."
Kieran, Discovery Pathway learner
Kieran, a Discovery Pathway learner, took part in National Grid’s supported internship (EmployAbility) and was offered a full-time permanent position as a result. He now works at National Grid as an Analyst and is responsible for streamlining and analysing the technical requirements for new staff.
"EmployAbility has had a miraculous impact on my future. I used to be a boy with little hope of earning my own future, however, the Supported Internship gave me opportunities that I had only thought possible for advanced university students and heavily experienced professionals. The scheme gave me the chance to work at National Grid and gave me two things I was very unfamiliar with; pride in myself and ambition in my work."