Work by the Charitable Housing Association BCHA and its partners to help people get back on their feet and into work following Covid has paid dividends.
BCHA Learn, the employability arm of BCHA sprang into action during the pandemic, launching a range of free support and training programmes to help people whose finances had been adversely affected, either through the loss of a job or a reduction in working hours.
BCHA Project Manager Val Jefferies explained: “Our back to work provisions like The Way Forward, which have been supported by J P Morgan, BCP Council and Citizens Advice Bureau BCP, have helped people whose lives were turned upside down by the effects of Covid to regain their confidence and feel ready to get back out into the job market.
“We have provided training opportunities in hospitality and catering and customer services, as well as all the generic but vital employability skills people need to seek work, including communication skills, team working, CV preparation and getting ready for interviews. And we are pleased to report that we have helped 115 people back into work and 122 people to achieve accredited learning.”
Paul Keddle, 57, from Poole, has a background in catering, but lost his job during the pandemic.
He said: “It’s been a real struggle.
“I did manage to get work after being made redundant, but it’s not nearly enough hours and I was referred to BCHA Learn and The Way Forward for some support in looking for full time work. And that experience has been amazing.
“Through The Way Forward I’ve had digital training, I’ve taken and passed certification and I’ve had invaluable help in practical things such as updating my CV, applying for jobs and even how to perform well at interviews.
“All the BCHA programmes I have taken have made me feel more confident, prepared and I am actively applying for jobs with two interviews lined up for this month alone. I know I am going to get a job very soon and this will be largely due to the help from BCHA Learn.”
Liz Orme, Economic Development Officer for Development Services at BCP Council said: “It has been a pleasure to support Val and the team at BCHA on The Way Forward, which has enabled local residents to access top quality skills and training opportunities and ongoing support to enter the job market and gain financial independence.
“This has consequently supported local businesses, in the hospitality sector especially, with qualified staff and fresh resources when they needed it most, following the challenges presented by the pandemic. It’s been great to be part of a project that can deliver this much needed multi-faceted support.”
Tom Lund, Head of Operations & Service Delivery at Citizens Advice BCP agreed: “We have supported The Way Forward Project since its implementation in 2021. The ability of the project and its dedicated staff team to support participants during the pandemic and more recently the cost-of-living crisis has been exceptional. Citizens Advice BCP has been proud to be associated in partnership with the Way Forward Project and anticipates further success in the future through the excellent work delivered by the BCHA Learn team.”
BCHA Learn is now also running a range of sessions and workshops responding to the cost of living crisis to support people with budgeting guidance, affordable cooking and managing tenancies.
Val said: “Our work has probably never been so important, and we are now keen to partner with more companies and businesses able to offer sponsorship and recruitment opportunities for our programmes.”
To find out more about BCHA Learn’s current provisions or partner opportunities, please contact Val on Valjefferies@bcha.org.uk