Making it work: our funding for employment
From furlough to home working, the past year has seen a lot of changes in the labour market, from Covid-19 transforming jobs to Brexit affecting both trade and the number of European nationals working in the UK.
But some things don’t change. A new generation of young people is about to enter the job market, while others at different stages are looking for training and experience on the journey to employment. For people of all ages and experience levels, work can offer a sense of achievement and connection that supports wellbeing and improves lives.
We want to talk about the difference charities and community groups make to people who are out of work, especially those who have never worked, have been out of work for a while, or have particular barriers to accessing employment.
In two new reports, we explore how National Lottery funding is supporting charities and community groups to do more in this space, and what makes them stand out in providing employment support.
What the voluntary and community sector adds
The voluntary and community sector (VCS) complements mainstream employment provision by supporting people who may need more help, for longer, or in more flexible formats than other services might be able to offer. Through just eight of our programmes, our VCS grantholders have supported over 181,000 people.
The sector makes a real difference to people’s experience. One young man with a history of homelessness and mental health difficulties found work after almost three years in Talent Match, our largest employment programme for young people. More generally, VCS programmes like Making it Work show that the sector has a similar impact to mainstream employment support – the programme had an employment rate of 30%, which is well within the 15-40% range achieved by similar programmes in Scotland.
And as well as direct employment outcomes, the work we support also helps boost people’s confidence and wellbeing. “If this support wasn’t available”, a participant in the Bit Lottery Veterans Service explained, “I would be lying in bed looking at four walls [or] on the street.” This lifts people’s overall life satisfaction while also helping them to make the most of training, volunteering and employment opportunities.
Supporting individuals benefits society as a whole too – Talent Match, for example, has created at least £3.08 of public benefit for every £1 spent. In Scotland, Making it Work has an economic value of £11.5 million, as well as providing £3 million in social value through wellbeing outcomes.
Meeting people where they are
When helping people move towards employment, formal environments can be intimidating. Realising this, charities take their support out to people, meeting them in places that feel familiar and safe. Some work from community and youth centres, or homeless drop-in centres, while others meet participants in their homes. This can make it easier for people to open up, and helps staff to understand the range of support they might need.
This approach involves taking time to understand what’s going on in people’s lives, which is especially important when working with those least likely to access support. Simple things can really help, like starting with conversations rather than form-filling. It’s also important to fund employment services led by people from the communities they support – that's why we support groups like Babbasa, Limehouse Project and Intercultural Youth Scotland.
Supporting mental health, supporting people to work
Employment issues can take a toll on people’s mental health, so embedding mental health support with employment services is always important, and even more so after the pandemic. Talent Match Plus Liverpool used to refer young people to specialist mental health providers, but now the organisation builds this expertise into its own service.
This means the group provides speech and language therapy, counselling and behavioural therapy in-house, in a trusted environment. The approach prevents people dropping out while tackling some of the personal and entrenched issues that make it harder for them to find and hold a job.
Owning your journey
The route from unemployment to a job can be long. What’s important is that people feel ownership of the journey. By being flexible and adapting support to what’s going on for that person, services show people that they matter. We know that setbacks are part of life, so people should be able to return or stay as long as they need to.
One-to-one support is at the heart of the journey – often through a dedicated key worker who can build a trusted relationship. This is what the VCS does so well, going the extra mile to accompany people to job interviews, or even driving them to work on their first day. Talent Match Plus Liverpool is developing a tailored qualification for the key worker role, understanding that it requires training, recognition and support.
Setting people up to succeed
Working relationships and personal issues can affect people’s ability to stay in work. Many of the groups we fund keep supporting participants for the first three to six months of their first or new job. This can include advice on what to do when someone disagrees with you at work, or practical help in organising childcare. Staff at Warwickshire-based employment service Accelerate, for example, work with employees to create workplace circles of support, helping participants settle in and sustain employment.
Find out more
You learn more by reading More than just a job: The difference we make for people who are out of work and Seeing the full picture: How the voluntary and community sector supports people who are out of work.
You can also contact us at email@example.com