Journey into employment must be better supported, says Salvation Army at Labour Party Conference

published on 25 Sep 2018

Yesterday, The Salvation Army held a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, addressing the future of employability support. The event looked at today’s employment challenges, making particular reference to the unique contribution of The Strawberry Field project, and explored policy solutions to help jobseekers on their journey to finding fulfilling and meaningful work.

Held at The Beatles Story the panel discussion was chaired by Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive for the Employment Related Service Association (ERSA) while guest speakers included Mike Amesbury MP (Weaver Vale) Shadow Minister for Employment, Rebecca Keating, Director for The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus UK service and Lauren Phipps, Programme Manager for Strawberry Field’s Steps to Work. 

The discussion addressed the need for local and national government to better collaborate, and join together the opportunities available for people with learning disabilities to access employment and training. It also looked at how organisations such as The Salvation Army are meeting this need – highlighting a significant concern around the current gap in employment support for people furthest from work. 

The Salvation Army’s Rebecca Keating said: “The employment support sector has seen major structural changes in recent years. We believe that everyone should be able to access the right employment support; in particular, The Salvation Army is seeing a significant number of people who aren’t on the government’s radar, come through our doors looking for help.

“We are increasingly concerned that many people are disengaged from the support that’s available to them. The Salvation Army is addressing this gap and supporting people not currently being helped by national government programmes back into employment – we’re in a unique position that enables us to take a relational approach and invest more time with job seekers, reaching people who have haven’t been reached by national initiatives.

“People who are experiencing unemployment need more help than ever to find and stay in work. Every person has worth and it is our desire to help all who are willing to work, irrespective of their starting point.

“We were delighted to have Mike Amesbury join us at our fringe event today. We urged the Labour party to prioritise policies that enable people to access the right support needed to move into employment.”

The fringe event identified The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field project as an example of the church and charity’s unique approach to employment support. Fewer than seven percent of people with a learning disability are in employment and in response to this, the new programme at Strawberry Field in Liverpool will work with individuals with learning difficulties and disabilities who otherwise would be unsupported by national employment support programmes. Its Steps to Work programme, based at the soon-to-launch visitor attraction, will offer a vocational training and work placement hub for young people aligning community, business and tourism in the city of Liverpool. 

The Salvation Army offers tailored support to help people become job-ready, to get a job and to stay in work, operating from more than 1,000 locations across the country.