Behind Every GREAT Man Employability Programme

This programme is in conjunction with the projects #BehindEveryGREATMan campaign which launched earlier this year, with the key message of “doing it yourself doesn’t mean doing it alone”.

When asked what employment means to them, one participant said:

“It’s means giving my children things I can’t give them at the moment. I want them to look up to me and remember me as someone who was hard working.”

 

The six interactive sessions held at Charnwood Museum were designed to help participants build up employability skills to get back into work or move into training. This is complimented by one-to-one support with CV writing, cover letters and job searching.

 

Five participants completed the programme of workshops covering confidence, employment goals, budgeting, interview skills and managing a return to work. On the final session, participants were presented with their certificates and given a chance to look back on their progress and plan the next steps.

 

Feedback from the group around attending a programme with other male participants was positive. As the weeks progressed the attendees worked well together, finding it easy to talk to others in the same situation.

Tom found out about the GREAT Project when accessing his local food bank after he lost his job. He’d never heard of the project but was interested in anything that would get him back into employment. Struggling with his confidence and self-esteem, Tom found the employability programme to be a confidence builder, gaining invaluable insight and techniques. It helped Tom being in a group of people in the same position, having the opportunity to be open without the fear of judgement.

Talking about the employability programme, Tom said:

“I went through a stage in my life where I reached rock bottom and this was even before I lost my job, it knocked my confidence and it’s hard to pick yourself up from that. I struggled talking one-on-one, let alone in a group of people, it’s personally helped me massively.”

 

Tom is now moving on to a 3 day course, focused around confidence with the GREAT Project. Taking away what he’s learnt on the employability programme, he is making positive steps back towards employment.


Poonam’s Story

Before joining the GREAT Project, Poonam was a stay-at-home mum of three and had plenty of work experience in differing industries. However, Poonam had been unemployed since having her third child. With her youngest due to start school in September, she decided now was the time to do something for herself.

“I wanted to do something on my own – everyone knows me as mum or wife, but I wanted to do something for me.”

Poonam knew she wanted to find a role within social care, but felt she didn’t have enough confidence to start looking for jobs. She joined the GREAT Project after hearing about it at her children’s primary school. Poonam soon referred herself with the hopes she’d be able to access support with writing a CV, help with looking for jobs and help to prepare her for interviews.

Poonam soon met with Chantal, a GREAT Project team leader, who created a tailored support plan based on her needs. Poonam began attending sessions on interview techniques, managing return to work and confidence building, all delivered by in-house Employment Coordinators. She also had one-to-one Work Club sessions, where she accessed the support she wanted with writing her CV and cover letter.

Poonam found that not only was her confidence increasing, but the GREAT Project was able to support her with other barriers she faced. As the GREAT Project covers transport costs and can provide childcare, Poonam was able to access all the sessions Chantal recommended to her without the additional worry these issues could have caused. Poonam was able to attend the sessions feeling relaxed; having her expenses covered and her children cared for meant she could completely focus on the task at hand.

Poonam has seen the biggest increase in her confidence, and credits the group working as the reason for this. She feels that working in a team has given her the motivation to speak to others and she now has the confidence to put this into practice and form new friendships.

“I’ve learnt how to talk to strangers; I’ve even approached a lady on her own at the playground and now we go walking together.”

Whilst on the project, Poonam also forged strong friendships with other participants. They all now go for regular walks together after dropping their children at school. They regularly share stories on their time with the project and any advancements they’ve made with their job search.

Reflecting on Poonam’s time with the project, Chantal said:

“It has been great to see how much confidence Poonam now has. She is able to see employment as an achievable goal and with her new found confidence, it won’t be long before she is in work.”

Poonam has completed her time with the project and has taken away the skills she wanted to learn, as well as a new friendship circle.


Brendan’s Story

Brendan, 21, currently lives at home with his parents and his sister and was referred to the GREAT Project by his mum. At the time of joining the project, Brendan wanted to work towards an NVQ in electrical engineering, but as he had not worked before, his mum felt the GREAT Project would be a good place for him to start.

Soon after being referred to the GREAT Project, Brendan met with his Employment Support Officer, Leah. He explained to her that he has Asperger’s and would like help with his confidence and anxiety. Whilst on the project, Brendan took part in all of the activities that were available to him as a participant.

Brendan took part in a three-day confidence building course that encourages participants to work together to overcome challenges and obstacles. The aim of the course is create interaction between the participants, helping them forge bonds and friendships. Challenges are designed in a way which allows the participants individual skillsets to flourish, allowing them to overcome the problem at hand.

Brendan attended sessions on a variety of employability skills, including interview skills, managing returning to work and confidence building. These sessions are delivered by in-house Employment Coordinators and are extremely beneficial in participant’s development. Brendan also received further one-to-one support around interview skills, allowing him to feel more confident when it came to interviews. Other employability sessions that helped Brendan were Work Club, where he was able to work on his CV and cover letter.

Given Brendan’s keen interest in electrical engineering, Leah felt Brendan would benefit from attending Enstruct. Enstruct is one of the project’s delivery partners and offers a 10-week home improvements course, where participants are given a taster in a variety of DIY skills, including electrics, tiling, bricklaying and plumbing. Participants can also work towards obtaining their CSCS card.

Brendan also worked with delivery partner, Business in the Community, and attended two of the behind the scenes tours that were available to him. He visited a local food manufacturer as well as a nationwide logistics company. Behind the scenes tours are beneficial for participants development as it provides them with an inside look into how differing industries work and the opportunities available.

One of the newer offerings the GREAT Project can provide are sessions with the in-house Vocational Rehabilitation Case Officer, Eileen. Brendan went to one of Eileen’s workshops on managing low mood and worry and learnt different ways in which he can help manage his mood.

Brendan utilised everything the project offers and has seen a tremendous improvement in his quality of life. He is now looking forward to putting everything he has learnt into practice by securing a job.

Speaking of his time on the project, Brendan said:

“The project has helped me build and gain confidence, has helped me with my anxiety and has helped me develop useful skills in searching and applying for work.”

Leah said:

“Brendan was an absolute pleasure to support. I’m so glad he took the time to attend everything the project can offer because it has really benefitted him; the change I’ve seen is incredible. I hope that he finds a role soon because he deserves it.”


Naailah’s Story

When Naailah joined the project, she’d not long graduated from university and was unsure what she wanted to do. She didn’t know what options were out there or what would complement her degree. Initially, Naailah wanted to work in childcare but after a bad experience of working in a nursery, she felt that it wasn’t the best path for her.

“I had a lack of confidence and I didn’t feel motivated after I lost my job. My mental health really got the better of me.”

Naailah felt she was under a lot of pressure to find work as everyone around her, including all her friends, had jobs. Her sister was already a participant on the project and after seeing how it changed her life, Naailah decided to refer herself.

Soon, Naailah met with her Employment Support Officer, Yachna, and together they worked out how the GREAT Project could best support her. Naailah outlined all her barriers, which included lack of confidence and motivation, mental health and anxiety, lack of skills and opportunities and lack of transport. With this in mind, Yachna created a support plan tailored to Naailah’s needs.

Yachna recommended Naailah attend the Work Club sessions, as she’d be able to work on writing her CV and cover letter. She also signed up to various job search sites and regularly applied for different roles. Yachna also referred Naailah to an organisation specialising in health and well-being. Through this organisation, Naailah was able to access online/telephone support and varied workshops covering different topics, like dealing with anxiety.

Naailah also benefitted greatly from a three-day confidence building course, as not only did it increase her confidence, it encouraged her to think differently about challenges she faced. The course is designed to encourage participants to work together to overcome different obstacles. This spurs participants to speak amongst themselves, bringing them out their comfort zone, and in many cases, they make new friends.

“I felt like I wasn’t normal because I felt the way I did, but meeting other people in a similar situation made me realise I’m not alone.”

Yachna also referred Naailah to delivery partner, Business in the Community, who organised a two-week work placement for her at a local homelessness charity. Working in the housing support team, Naailah took to the role easily and was always looking for what else she could do. Naailah’s efforts and hard-work paid off, as at the end of her placement, the employer recommended Naailah keep an eye out for upcoming jobs so she could apply. She received excellent feedback as she fit in well with the employer and the service users also thought highly of her.

A few weeks after her placement came to an end, a position came up with the charity and Naailah applied for the role with Yachna’s support. In preparation for her interview, Naailah had a one-to-one interview skills session with an in-house Employment Coordinator to ensure she felt as confident as possible. The day after her interview, Naailah was successfully offered the job.


Going behind the scenes at Leicester City Football Club

The tour of King Power stadium gave the participants an real insight to the club. Starting at the players’ entrance, used by the squad on matchdays, before heading to the media suite where they had an opportunity to take photos.

They continued the tour down to the tunnel, visiting the away changing rooms before they made their way into the home changing rooms, showers and cryotherapy rooms. Participants then had the opportunity to walk pitch side and visit the home dugout.

This eye opening tour finished with a Q & A session and the merchandise manager gave career insights for the Foxes fan shop.


Kiran’s Story

He found out about the project on social media, and after researching what the GREAT Project does and the outcomes it achieves, decided to refer himself.

When Kiran first met with his Employment Support Officer, Yachna, he explained his barriers to work as his lack of skills and opportunities. He also explained that he didn’t have any experience of writing a CV and felt he needed support with this. With this in mind, Yachna factored this into the support plan she created specifically for him.

Kiran first attended work club sessions and here, he was able to access the support he needed with writing a CV and a successful cover letter. Work Club Development Officers emailed Kiran suitable job adverts regularly, which he found really helpful with his job search.

Whilst on the project, Kiran attended an interview for a role but was unsuccessful. However, Yachna reviewed the feedback he received with him so he could improve for the next time. This is something Kiran found exceptionally beneficial, as it helped him learn what to do and see the previous interview as practice. They also talked through the different methods used when answering interview questions, such as the situation, task, action and result (STAR) technique.

With Yachna’s support, Kiran secured a part-time contract as a supervisor at a local convenience store.

Kiran said:

I’m really grateful for all Yachna and the GREAT Project has done. By helping me with my CV and interview techniques, I was able to secure a job and that’s the best part.

 

Yachna, speaking of Kiran’s time on the project, said:

Kiran was a pleasure to support, and I’m very proud that he secured a supervisory role. I do however, hope he finds a role within IT in the future as I know that’s his dream.


Aleksandra’s Story

A single parent with two children, Aleksandra suffered with depression and wasn’t sure what steps to take to find the right job.

She was signposted to the GREAT Project by her work coach at the job centre, and at Aleksandra’s initial meeting with her employment support officer (ESO), they discussed the courses and support available to obtain her goal of finding a job. Aleksandra felt positive that the one-to-one support she was receiving from her ESO would help her overcome the difficulties and anxieties she was facing.

Aleksandra attended a 3 day confidence building course and discovered skills she had forgotten she possessed which increased her confidence greatly. This course is aimed at participants that struggle with their confidence and self-esteem as it encourages them to talk and engage with one another, bringing them out of their comfort zone.

 

Aleksandra reflects on the training she received with the GREAT Project:

 

I proved to myself that my English is not that bad. The course reminded me about skills I already had but I hadn’t used them for a long time. I had a really great time and had lots of fun, it was a huge step for me.

 

Alongside this, Aleksandra attended the GREAT Project work club, receiving support in writing her CV completing applications forms and interview preparation.

She felt that the GREAT Project had provided a support system for her, from helping Aleksandra with job searching to exploring other opportunities. Aleksandra found she was happier, with more energy and feeling more optimistic about the future.

After completing her time on the project, Aleksandra found employment at Leicester Royal infirmary as a Combined Services Coordinator.

 

Speaking of her time on the project, Aleksandra said:

Thank you to my ESO for her patience, optimism and support, she never gave up on me. I would recommend the project to everyone.

 

Yachna, Aleksandra’s ESO said:

She is an inspirational woman and I am super proud of her and how far she has come in just 6 months. She will be a great asset to her team and I wish her all her all the best in the future!