ESA Chesterfield Report – 2017

The Overview

3SC ran the ESA support programme in Chesterfield from June to December 2017. The programme was designed to provide intensive support, build momentum and to motivate individual participants by enhancing their employability prospects through the provision of a bespoke programme of support provided with our partners The Babington Group.

Participants were referred to 3SC by the DWP, their details were securely inputted on our bespoke IT platform. 3SC then liaised with the delivery partner and the participants were assigned to a course and contacted regarding the arrangements.

Each participant received an initial in-depth diagnostic and planning interview upon induction onto the provision with a dedicated mentor. Babington worked with them creating and agreeing a detailed Work Plan. This Work Plan also contained details of any training undertaken and accreditation gained whilst participating on the programme.

Participants engaged with an intensive course of activity for 4 days a week (up to 16 hours per week in total). The programme lasted for 6 weeks with an additional 13 week of Work Support service provided.

The Contract Story

We identified a local partner in Chesterfield that held town centre offices and were able to offer excellent local links, spacious and high-quality facilities and a friendly, open approach.

This contract was aimed at those currently in receipt of ESA and thus were some way from the job market. There were also some high need cases represented referred to the scheme including individuals who could not attend without the escort of their partner/carer. This naturally represented something of a challenge.

The contract was comparatively small and short but was delivered with our participants at the heart of our planning, management and execution. Provision started with breakfast in the canteen in a relaxed atmosphere where discussion was focussed around employability but without the restrictive feel of a traditional classroom. The move into the IT suite came more naturally as a result and participants spoke frequently of the appreciation they had for this element. Many of our participants struggled with food bills and loneliness, the opportunity to start the provision with something to eat and an opportunity to socialise was one of the factors praised by participants.

Some of the activities were designed to be fun and enjoyable whilst building empathy, team work, understanding and communication. These included visits to local cafes, building marshmallow towers and the morning team breakfast which ran alongside more traditional employability fare such as job searching, CV tailoring and covering letter work.

Examples of the impact of the service include:

  • On one of my own visits I spoke with a gentleman who had spent his life as a carer for his recently deceased adult son and significant impact this had on his mental health and aspirations. He was discussing with me his business idea of providing adaptations to ablution facilities to aid those living with disabilities but which would not create a separate, segregated environment. He attributed this dramatic change in his outlook, aspirations and mental health to this provision and felt that he had a future to look forward to and perhaps could use his lived experience to develop a business.
  • Another customer thanked me for the team’s attitude as they have been the only people who actually treated him and his wife as ‘unique individuals, as human beings’.
  • One participant with a criminal record produced her first ever CV as she overcame initial mistrust because of the relaxed, ‘Not-corporate’ atmosphere. This individual earnt a paid role and said ‘I must say the support has been amazing, if I can find a job after 21 years then it truly is possible, my self-belief is coming back slowly and my future is looking brighter’.
  • Another found a role as a tradesman and insisted on popping into the offices for his support sessions because of the welcome and connection he felt with the team there. He spent the weeks working to save up for further tools with the ongoing support of our delivery organisation.
  • A participant who found a role as a warehouse operative was helped to obtain his CSCS card and he said ‘I still can’t believe that I have got such a brilliant Job!! Everyone is so nice to me and help me if I’m stuck. I truly enjoyed my time at Acorn Training even though it was short it was so relaxed and friendly’.