The start of May was an intense and very rewarding time.
I accompanied Vicki Devonport, Groundwork’s Executive Director, to Bolton Council to meet Phil Green and Sue Somerville to talk about Groundwork’s delivery of skills and employment programmes. We received a very warm welcome and several actions were agreed including Groundwork signing up to the Bolton Skills Pledge.
This sort of partnership work is crucial for our organisation and is driven by our Business Growth Group. Health related projects are a development priority and one of the highlights of the week for me was meeting with Diane Halton and Stefan Taylor in the public health team at Bury Council. It was a breath of fresh air to hear their enthusiasm for projects which link health and employment together. I promised to keep them informed about the progress of our Mencap-Groundwork Cognitive Behavioural Therapy project in Rochdale. Also that week I met with Pam Hunt from Mencap to review the early progress of this partnership project supported by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group’s social investment fund. We are providing a combination of CBT and intensive 1:1 support for ESA claimants with mental health conditions. Sustained employment is the primary outcome.
Mid-week I briefed Teresa Jennings, Groundwork’s Operations Director, on my two successful bids to the Department for Work & Pensions – Stepping Up in Oldham and Rochdale. This short eight week programme is for new claimants that would benefit from a short period of work experience. Crystal Causer and I met with Michelle Wood and Sue Morris from Jobcentre Plus to discuss start up arrangements for June. Michelle and Sue have worked with Groundwork on a range of welfare to work projects with Groundwork in the past and it was great to be talking to them again, their enthusiasm was inspiring.
The week ended well with an annual review of our Work Programme operation in Bury and Rochdale. Our prime contractor is Seetec and Gillian Baines and Debra Fullerton, two of Seetec’s Directors, shared very useful analysis on the techniques they are using across the country to continually increase the number of sustained jobs. We agreed to adopt several of these suggestions into our 2014/15 operational plan.
Finally I met up with three senior managers within LearnDirect to discuss how the three Groundwork Trusts that operate in Greater Manchester could contribute to their bid for the Youth Contract Extension. This kind of collaboration with our sister Trusts is an increasingly common and welcome aspect of my job in Work & Employability.
In wider Groundwork news we have launched a new national campaign to help more people enjoy their local outdoors and protect the spaces they treasure. As well as a show garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show we’ve joined forces with PricewaterhouseCoopers to hold a corporate reception at their London offices. Get involved in the campaign and share your local treasured space at http://www.groundwork.org.uk/Sites/xmarks/Pages/share-your-treasured-space