Southend Salvation Army celebrates people overcoming barriers to work on first UK Employability Day

published on 25 Apr 2016

Staff at Southend Salvation Army showcased the support they offer to jobseekers experiencing challenges through health issues and disabilities as part of the national Employability Day initiative.

In particular, The Salvation Army highlighted its partnership with Chase High School in Westcliff-on-Sea, a local employer which has been recruiting people facing barriers to employment and helping them to stay in work.

Sir David Amess, MP for Westcliff-on-Sea, visited Southend Salvation Army in Clarence Street, where the Employment Plus service is based as part of Employability Day on Friday (April 15). The service based at Southend Citadel is part of the Work Choice programme, which helps people who are disabled and facing complex barriers to employment, to find a job and stay in work.

Employability Day was the brainchild of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), of which The Salvation Army is a member, and aims to recognise the contribution of employment support organisations in helping jobseekers into sustainable work.

Sir David met with Angela, 31, and Phillip, 44, from Rayleigh and Southend, respectively, who have benefitted from the support provided by The Salvation Army. They are now employed by Chase High School where they are part of the cleaning services team.

Chase High School head teacher Andrew James said: ‘As an inclusive school we have a strong emphasis on valuing the contributions of every person we work with. To date, we have placed seven people across a variety of posts through the Salvation Army Work Choice Programme. With the right support, jobseekers such as Angela and Phillip can do a wide range of jobs and do them well.

‘Angela and Phillip take real pride in their work and I am delighted to have them on our team. I look forward to seeing them grow in their role.’

Angela has been employed at the school for almost two years. In recalling her delight in passing her six-month probation period, she said: ‘I could not believe it - I was so chuffed! My mum was chuffed, my dad, my auntie, my uncle… everyone was so happy for me.’

Phillip has been in his role for around four months and he enjoys what he is doing and is working hard.

The Salvation Army’s Deputy Director of Employment Services, Rebecca Keating, said: ‘With the right support, disabilities and health conditions need not be a barrier to work. We have found in our experiences that the key is to helping employers see the potential in individuals. That’s where work trials and temporary wage incentives come in. Some of our participants might struggle in a formal interview, but they definitely have the skills and determination to do the job. The work we carry out helps provide a foot in the door to employment and they do the rest.’

During the visit The Salvation Army in Southend showed how its employment services have been helping jobseekers locally. It also provided an opportunity for service users and frontline staff to discuss some of the issues surrounding unemployment and employability.

Today, The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus centres deliver a number of government contracted welfare-to-work programmes, including Work Programme and Work Choice, which has, to date, enabled The Salvation Army to engage with 8,142 people.

The Salvation Army operates some 70 Employment Plus Locals, with new centres opening on a regular basis. Akin to work clubs, these initiatives are led by our church and community centres, where jobseekers can find information and guidance in a supportive environment.