[Photos L- R: Richard Smith - Job Life Coach, Lydia Bartlett -Corps Officer, Rt Hon John Spellar MP - Warley, Lee Horley -Centre Manager and Richard Loach - Work Programme Regional Manager]
Staff at an Oldbury Salvation Army church welcomed their local MP through its doors to showcase the support being offered to thousands of jobseekers through The Salvation Army's frontline services.
The visit by Rt Hon John Spellar MP, for Warley, to Oldbury Corps (church) in Merton Close formed part of a UK-wide Employability Day (Friday 15 April 2016) – a day launched by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) of which The Salvation Army is a member – to recognise the contribution of employment support organisations in helping jobseekers into sustainable work.
During the visit from John Spellar MP, The Salvation Army demonstrated how its employment services at Oldbury Corps have been helping jobseekers locally. It also provided an opportunity for service users and frontline staff to discuss some of the issues surrounding unemployment, vocation and employability.
John Spellar MP, said: “I was delighted to see the great progress that The Salvation Army is making in helping my constituents find work. The people I spoke to today have found genuine help and support in their journey into employment.
"The Salvation Army has a long history of seeking to help unemployed people achieve their full potential and escape welfare dependency. Being unemployed can be a very tough time and can happen to anyone. I am very grateful for the compassionate service offered by The Salvation Army at their Oldbury Centre."
Our Director of Employment Services, Major Julian Watchorn, said: “Long-term unemployment is a real concern because it is a main cause of poverty and social exclusion.
“The Salvation Army has been helping those furthest from the labour market for more than 125 years as we believe that being in employment is key to transforming peoples’ lives and that of their families, and we want to provide compassionate and proactive support for people who are out of work in our local communities.
“Through our employment services we seek to provide each of our participants with a personalised service that helps them to clarify their goals and aspirations and identify the key barriers that are currently stopping them from achieving these.
“Our job life coaches offer practical support in overcoming the identified barriers, whether they are directly related to employment or indirectly impacting an individual’s ability to gain and maintain paid work. We believe our holistic approach allows us to make a real difference in people’s lives.”
The Salvation Army in Oldbury works with people from diverse backgrounds and a variety of social circumstances and aims to provide a friendly welcome and to benefit the community through a range of schemes which include Employment Plus.
Our church in Oldbury has been offering the Employment Plus service since June 2011 and works with local businesses, training providers, and employment agencies. It offers personalised support, access to job searches, offers work placements, and e-learning opportunities in addition to accredited employability courses. The church also seeks to reduce the negative effects of unemployment on people’s lives so that there is a focus on people’s personal as well as professional development goals.
For more than 125 years The Salvation Army has been helping those furthest from the labour market. In 1890 the movement opened the nation’s first labour exchange and also provided opportunities for impoverished and unemployed East Enders to support themselves by learning valuable work skills in farming on its Hadleigh colony in Essex as part of an ambitious ‘work for all’ social reform programme.
Today, our Employment Plus delivers 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.