Salvation Army calls for clarity on funding of specialist employment support post-Brexit

published on 25 Jun 2019

Employment campaigner

The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to provide clarity for organisations that help people who are unemployed find work, as fears mount over a potential funding black hole post-Brexit. The request for reassurance comes ahead of Employability Day (June 28) which celebrates the important work going on around the country to help those who are unemployed on their journey into the workplace.

In the past eight years (since 2011) The Salvation Army has supported more than 10,000 people through its Employment Plus programmes, which offer support to help people become job-ready, to get a job and stay in work. It helps people who are furthest from employment, those falling through the gaps, and supports people with complex needs where possible. In the past year alone, 2,769 people have been supported through Employment Plus.

Currently, around 60 per cent of the funding for The Salvation Army’s specialist Employment Plus programmes comes from the European Social Fund (ESF) with six of its largest programmes receiving funding in part or in full from the ESF.

While current programmes funded under ESF will continue initially, with the reality of Brexit looming, there is still little information from government on what these crucial programmes will look like after 2020. It means there is no stability and organisations like The Salvation Army are unable to plan ahead.

The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus Director, Rebecca Keating, said: “It is not clear if the funds that the UK Government are proposing to replace ESF money will be ring-fenced to protect employment and training. The funding could become narrowed or spent only on structural investment to regenerate areas. And this doesn’t help the people who are currently unemployed. We are working with people who are sleeping rough, who aren’t claiming benefits, who don’t have a home address, who aren’t going to benefit from a new bridge or supermarket. 

“While government have announced their plans to create a UK Shared Prosperity fund post-Brexit, we have precious few details on what this will entail. Without clarity on what ESF programmes will look like after the funding ends in 2020, we are concerned for the future of these specialist programmes that so many have benefited from.   

“Salvation Army projects help people who are slipping through the gaps of Government provision. We help everyone to get a job. It doesn’t matter where you are on that journey. We are engaged with people who no one else is helping. We are engaged with people who don’t want to engage with other mainstream programmes because they find them scary. These people might be receiving an emergency food parcel, breakfast, or using a Salvation Army charity shop to buy clothes for their children. We can then ask them whether we can help them to find a job so they don’t need to have a food parcel. This means not sending someone to a different organisation for employability support, and it makes it less threatening and more effective.”

Catherine, 41, had been working as an administrator for a charity on a six month contract, but when her temporary contract ended she felt lost. She went to the job centre to look for work, and was referred to The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus programme in Cardiff. The programme in Cardiff is fully ESF funded.

At the time Catherine was volunteering with Splott Community Volunteers at a local breakfast club, which also provides food parcels for those in poverty. Paul Laybourn, from the charity’s Employment Plus programme, told her about a scheme which would enable her to turn the voluntary role into a six month work placement if she took on some additional duties. Catherine was the first person on the Employment Plus Active Inclusion project in the city to start such a placement.

Catherine said: “The work placement was life-changing, it meant everything to me. I absolutely loved it. It was a paid job, and I was also able to do a course in customer service. It has put me in a position to be able to confidently go to find myself another job, it has helped me develop my CV and I feel really happy. I now feel positive about my future.”

Now Catherine’s work placement has ended, The Salvation Army is continuing to support her in her search for a permanent role.

Catherine said: “My work placement saw me help at the breakfast club, do administration and help on reception, help organise community events, and draw up the minutes from meetings. The help I have received from The Salvation Army has been absolutely amazing. I feel so much more confident to go and find myself another job and it really has changed my life.”

Ndjoli Marie JuamiNdjoli Marie Juami, 36, currently works as a cleaner – but the hours are sporadic. She has four children, and came to The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus Local in Hoxton (London)  to try to find more secure work to help her financial situation. In May, Ndjoli Marie, from Edmonton Green, attended a course provided by Goals UK at The Salvation Army, which aims to encourage confidence, improve wellbeing, and empower people to make changes that can help them move forward. Ndjoli Marie says the course was invaluable and she is due to start work as a nanny in September.

She said: “[The course] has really helped me to be confident when doing job interviews. Before when I have been interviewed I wasn’t confident enough. I was shy to talk to people at an interview. Now I feel very confident to go to an interview and talk to people who have been doing the job for 15 years.”

Ndjoli currently volunteers at her children’s school, and is looking to start a course in social work. She hopes to get a job at a school or in social care, so she can use the skills she already has through her current employment and volunteering experience.

“As a mum of four I have always wanted to work with children. The course through The Salvation Army has motivated me to eventually open my own nursery, and to have the confidence that I can do more than I thought possible.”

Employment Plus at The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army has 121 Employment Plus services which are funded by grants and contracts from the ESF, Government, and the organisation’s own charitable funds. The aim of the ESF is to fund programmes that help people move into sustained employment and support those who are best served by individualised and holistic employment support including disabled people, prison leavers, and people who are long-term unemployed.

As well as vocational training The Salvation Army offers short term work experience placements so people have a recent job reference and can grow in confidence. In addition to this, The Salvation Army has 82 Employment Plus Local programmes which are run entirely by volunteers through its local churches. These local centres ensure people can find information and guidance, as well as crucially access to computers, and a supportive environment on their journey into employment. Attending an Employment Plus Local is voluntary and available to any unemployed person looking for work and others who wish to learn new skills.