The latest articles on the Convergence programme showing the integration of activity, lessons learnt and good practice available here...
European Social Fund: Adding Value – Changing Lives
In my job, I often hear people say that ESF is complicated and bureaucratic, and so they focus on what they think it can’t do. For me, the message is simple. ESF is about helping more people into work and helping more people to gain the skills needed to help our businesses to grow and compete. But in delivering those all important outcomes there are a whole range of wider benefits to be exploited.
One of the many advantages of ESF Convergence investment for Jobcentre Plus is that it affords us the opportunity to test new delivery models for back to work programmes. An example is Cornwall Works for Social Enterprise (CW4SE), commissioned by Jobcentre Plus in 2008, informed by lessons learned from Objective One delivery and evidence of need from the Cornwall Works strategy.
The programme uses social enterprise settings to engage, inspire and support people back into work, and from the outset we knew that we had bought something with the capacity to be remarkable.
At an individual level, the programme changes peoples’ lives, over 580 of the 1,500 people supported have gained work with on-going training, over 30% were previously receiving incapacity benefits. But it also delivers additional benefits for our communities and economy.
Through CW4SE, the Citizens Advice Bureaux train workless people to become CAB advisers as part of their journey back to work. Not only has this helped over 60 people to gain work, it has also enabled CAB to deliver an additional 33,994 hours of advice for the benefit of people in Cornwall.
The inspirational Fifteen Cornwall has not only trained 70 more young chefs of the future, it has also created 100 additional jobs in Watergate Bay and ploughed £1milion a year into the local supply chain. The Cornwall School for Social Entrepreneurs has helped to create over 40 new enterprises with a community benefit. A recent independent evaluation undertaken by New Philanthropy Capital concluded that across all UK SSEs, the total value of jobs created by Fellows is estimated to be £13m per year.
The Real Ideas Organisation didn’t know that when they recruited disengaged young people by asking them if they wanted to skate at work that three of those young men would use the carpentry and employability skills they gained through building skate ramps to develop their own social enterprise – Xtravert. In addition to making a profit through selling bespoke furniture and skate equipment, the Xtravert team work in schools with young people, introducing them to woodwork first hand. Jack Latham Byrne, from Xtravet says:
“It’s great to see kids, naughty kids like I was, really get into something. They relate to us, because we’re not teachers, because we’re like them.”
And so the list goes on, from volunteer placements with ReZolve that support a reduction in land-fill to work experience with Pentreath that has produced new resources to support people experiencing mental ill health, ESF Convergence has helped us to make a real difference.
What’s complicated about that?