Back to Work scheme extension: Learning from our DWP Restart delivery experience

Emma Woodward, operational manager, DWP Restart shares how The Forward Trust’s Back to Work scheme has been a success.

The Forward Trust has been delivering DWP Restart for 27 months as part of Reed Partnership’s supply chain in the Home Counties Contract Package Area.

Working closely with other specialist intervention partners across Thanet, The Forward Trust has supported high volumes of unemployed people with complex barriers including:

• Those in drug recovery
• Facing homelessness
• In debt
• Living with disabilities and suffering long term health conditions
• Ex offenders.

We have reflected upon how we have effectively supported cohorts of individuals with complex barriers, and critical to our success has been:

• Ongoing staff training and development, including regular opportunities for CPD. We ensure staff who are new to the sector receive on the job mentoring from more experienced staff as well as bringing their own insights and life experiences to effectively supporting participants into work. This is complemented by The Forward Trust’s mandatory training and access to the employability practitioner apprenticeship delivered by the organisation.
• Building rapport and developing respectful relationships with participants is important. When our advisors first meet a participant, we co-produce a plan that they can own and we can support as part our commitment to them. We help with CV preparation, job applications, interview techniques, better off calculations and identify suitable specialist intervention when needed – such as mental health support or substance misuse recovery support . We ensure every participant leaves each appointment with the objective and commitment to find sustainable work.
• Hosting monthly job fairs with our employer partners, offering a community food bank and progressions into our skills contracts including adult education budget and multiply provision based in the same offices.
• The Forward Trust also hosts monthly job fairs and sector tasters with actively recruiting employers in addition to offering a community food bank whilst delivering back-to-back adult skills training through our adult education budget and multiply provision based at the Margate hub. Recently our skills trainer introduced our new four day ‘Back to Work’ course – all focused on supporting those who have been unemployed for over 50 months or have significant gaps in their CVs.

Our efforts, staff training and commitment to delivering the Restart Scheme has also led to The Forward Trust being nominated for an Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Award 2023.

Kirsty Langley, front line advisor of the Year Finalist, joined the Restart Scheme in 2021 to try something new and different.

‘When I joined The Forward Trust as employment advisor, I was anxious about what challenges the role may bring – but after receiving three weeks of intensive employability training – my confidence grew,’ she said.

‘I began to put all my training into action and soon realised what an impact good employability support can do! I was not only helping look for jobs for my participants but supporting them with their confidence, self-esteem and getting participants to believe in their capabilities to try new things. Alongside this, I’ve been privileged to meet some fantastic people and be part of a great team who care about every single person that walks through our door.

‘As a team, we’ve helped people get support for their mental health, tackle crippling debt and even escape domestic violence for instance. After taking a gamble and changing career I’ve never looked back. I love what I do, I enjoy working towards challenging targets and seeing the reaction from my participants when they get to tell me, “I got the job!” We’re not just finding people sustainable jobs – but every day we feel like we’re changing lives and that is the most rewarding feeling.’

The Forward Trust is a growing employability provider delivering DWP Restart and the JCP DPS programme as well as other education and skills programmes. The Forward Trust is a finalist in the ERSA Frontline Advisor of the Year award at the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Awards 2023.

This blog was originally published by The Forward Trust. You can read the original post here.

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