West Dunbartonshire Council’s approach to Working Matters was adapted to meet local ambitions to introduce system changes to assist highly vulnerable people to move towards and into employment.
The pilot focused on a specific hard to reach group with a key objective to strengthen relationships between the mainstream employability and specialist support services – recognising and addressing the complexities of different organisations struggling to align efforts, despite shared intentions.
The approach included a shared agenda and measurement framework, mutually reinforcing activities and strong lines of communication.
The service was developed on a partnership basis where Working 4U, the council’s employability service, provided case managed support and Work Connect, a specialist supported employment service, engaged with members of the community to provide:
- Specialised person-centred needs analysis.
- Low level psychological interventions with a health professional.
- Activities to promote healthy living.
- Support from other services within Work Connect, designed to help participants in their journey to better health.
Colin was referred to the programme in November 2019. Since leaving school over 20 years ago, he had yet to gain experience in paid employment. Through discussion with a dedicated case manager, Colin’s main objectives emerged as a need to increase his confidence and improve his ability to compete for work in the open labour market.
Initially attending six sessions at the Work Connect Employment Lab, he received advice, guidance and support on traditional employability skills development, suited to his learning style. He also attended and enjoyed a six-week, working on Confidence course where he engaged and participated keenly in peer group work.
As Colin expressed a particular interest in catering roles, he was provided with relevant training and learning opportunities. And working at a pace that suited him, he achieved a range of vocational qualifications that will assist him to pursue his career goal, including REHIS – Food Hygiene and Customer Service, and Health and Safety.
With the skills and knowledge gained, Colin was offered a voluntary placement at the Pavilion Café in Dumbarton. This work experience further developed his confidence to communicate with the general public and he now has the knowledge and skills to explore opportunities within the wider labour market.
Thanks to the City Deal employability pilot, Colin is now much better placed to pursue his goals and the partnership is in a stronger position to design and deliver specialist, employability services for people with challenges that prevent them from considering employment as a viable option.