As we are now a few weeks in to the school holiday period, it’s customary to say some words of reflection at the end of the academic year. And what a year! So I’d like to start this update with words of heartfelt appreciation, to convey how very grateful I am for every member of the Employment, Skills and Learning Team who has pushed on and stayed productive – even more so than usual – during this devastating pandemic. A massive pat on the back and ‘well done’ for managing your work from home, for developing a new routine, for your critical self-care and your care of others in the team. You know that the ESL team has a critical job to do, now more than ever, so I do hope you are taking some well-earned time to rest and recoup over the summer in time for the September return to school, and a busy autumn to come.
So what’s in the pipeline, and what more are we going to do to support young people and adults who have lost their job, who are at risk of redundancy, who need advice, and want to get trained or retrain? The latest benefit claimant figures we’ve seen make grim reading – the number of registered unemployed people in the city has rocketed from 2.7% in March to 6.3% in June. Those hardest hit live in Bristol’s most deprived neighbourhoods, particularly young people and those over 50, and those facing the greatest risks and challenges – people with few or no formal qualifications; BAME communities; Disabled people; women – particularly single parents and those with caring responsibilities; and young people leaving care.
ESL Leaders have worked together with our valued partners to create and submit a strong case for additional resources that would make a swift and significant impact. Here are a few details of programmes that are under discussion that we hope will be all in place soon:
One Front Door Job Matching Scheme (Ways2Work Service)
An expanded Ways2Work One Front Door Service will deliver a range of resources to assist employers, individuals and support agencies by creating new work trials, apprenticeships and entry job roles; match vacancies with jobseekers living in Bristol’s most deprived communities; expand the service we offer individuals including the introduction of a telephone support service and signposting to employment and skills services. This service would also embed and link with a new Youth Hub that’s being developed in partnership with the DWP.
Health and Social Care Skills Pipeline
Bristol City Council will work in partnership with the DWP, Health and Social Care Providers and other not for profit organisations to fill critical social care vacancies from within Bristol’s diverse communities , reducing unemployment by increasing skills and resilience support. Through our existing links with adult social care provision in the City, the established Proud to Care network and the proposed ‘One Front Door’ programme a range of providers will be engaged.
Rough Sleeper Initiative
Working with 100 homeless individuals in the City who are currently housed in hotels as a result of the Covid response, this multi-agency project will support them to move to more secure accommodation and help them progress towards work, increasing their skills and knowledge, and building resilience. Due to the fact that our target cohort are currently residing in hotels, we have already commenced the engagement and support process ahead of confirmation of funding rather than risk them returning to the streets increasing the risk of not being able to engage with them.
Step and Stone
The local DWP have approached us with a funding application from the Community Interest Company, Bristol-based bakery, Step and Stone who work with young people with learning disabilities, helping to develop their skills and confidence so they can eventually find employment in the mainstream catering world. Having engaged with them previously through the Bristol WORKS for Everyone programme, we are currently working with them to submit a joint funding bid to support 10 people with learning disabilities into paid employment.
The Future Bright programme, managed by the Employment Support Team, will be a key resource within our expanded Ways2Work service. Funded by WECA, we are pleased to report that the eligibility criteria has been widened in recognition of the spike in unemployment across the region. In addition to working with those in work on low pay, Future Bright career coaches can now work with anyone who is at risk of redundancy, who has recently been made redundant, or has lost hours due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Simon Bayliss, a Future Bright Career Coach, has kindly supplied a ‘day in the life’ article, attached, which provides an insight into how this service works remotely. Participants sound extremely grateful for the support received – which is another reminder why it is so vital that we keep connecting with Bristol residents who want and deserve our support.