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Providing opportunities to access education, training and employment.

We are committed to improving access to training and jobs, improving employability, volunteering opportunities, and developing new skills. For example, we funded a Skills Builder project widening access to robust essential skills development so that, whatever their background, young people can develop their essential skills and have the best chance of reaching their full potential.

The Group is delivering the Building Better Opportunities project in Lancashire and Huntingdonshire funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund. Delivering positive outcomes for economically inactive or unemployed people, including employment, training and volunteering opportunities.

Invest in Youth project

Places Foundation is continuing its fantastic work supporting young people aged 15 – 24 in Lancashire in partnership with the Building Better Opportunities Invest in Youth project.

A great example of how we are putting People First, the project aims to support young people who are unemployed to build their skills and overcome some of the barriers that prevent them from accessing education, employment and training.

Rory Monaghan, our Building Better Opportunities key worker for Places Impact, has been working in partnership with colleagues at Lancashire Wellbeing Services to provide intensive support to young people like Jordan.

Jordan was referred to the Invest in Youth project as he had dropped out of college following a long period of ill health.  As a result his confidence was very low, and he was struggling to find direction or guidance in what to do next and how to move forward in his life.

Through regular meetings, Rory worked with Jordan to develop a plan to find a new career path. Support was given to Jordan so that he could open a bank account and set up a Universal Credit claim, whilst he worked with Rory to complete a CV. Through links with the Prince’s Trust, Rory helped Jordan to secure a 4-week work placement scheme with BAE Systems.

Jordan exceeded all expectations on his placement, and was headhunted by another department. He was offered a full time contract as an administrative assistant at BAE, which is a testament to the hard work and positive progress he has made on the project.

Jordan feels that his confidence has greatly improved through the support given by Rory and the Invest in Youth project.

“A few months ago, I felt that I was in a deep hole. I could see the daylight at the top, but had no idea how to get myself out. Now, I feel so much more confident and excited to begin my career and keep moving forward. I would not have found a work placement without the guidance and support of my keyworker Rory, and appreciate the advice and help that he has given me”.

 

Building better opportunities

Pop Up Business is just one example of PFP’s work in this area in recent years. Since 2014 the company – via its Places Foundation programme – funded the Building Better Opportunities initiative.

Focused on helping communities in Lancashire, this programme tackles the root causes of poverty whilst promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth. Our initial funding provided three years support, which helped 3,270 disadvantaged people to benefit from tailored support overcome complex barriers and move towards work and training.

Last year, a result of the successful delivery of the first phase, we extended our funding through to 2022, allowing a further 2,960 disadvantaged people to receive support through the programme in Lancashire. As of September 2020, Lancashire’s the programme had engaged over 4,000 people with barriers to work. With new skills, confidence and opportunities 780 had secured employment or self-employment, entered education or started a training course to pursue their interests and fulfil their ambitions.

Our Group ensures customers whose first language isn’t English are equally supported with opportunities to access education, training and employment. In 2017, Homechoice – part of Places for People – provided £5,000 funding to Manchester’s Golden Centre of Opportunities which helps health, youth development, employment and education.

Our funding helped other organisations get on board, with the project ultimately match-funded by a 12 local and national supporters including Manchester City Council and Job Centre Plus – resulting in a total of £60,000 funding each year. 

The centre offers a wide range of services from CV writing and interview techniques, English language training where English isn’t the first spoken language to City and Guilds accredited courses and local employment opportunities. Additionally, a focus on financial capability (including advice and benefit support) and digital inclusion training – have all helped its customers enhance their lives, with many finding full time employment as a result. 

Even during the pandemic, the hard work has continued with lots of students able to continue studies within guidelines during 2020 and ultimately securing their ESOL English accrediutations late last year. 

The centre continues to offer support even when customers have gained employment – by furthering education with work-related courses and it now supports an impressive number of people within the community. Last year it helped 124 people into training and 91 of them have successfully gained paid employment following guidance from the centre. 

The centre now helps anyone in need in the area. Its success story is one that will continue to be supported throughout 2020 and beyond. 

Concluded Jamie Dickinson of Places for People: “It is imperative right now that we help people invest in their skills so that they can secure and maintain employment in these challenging times. By supporting organisations like these we are helping thousands of people realise their potential and find ways of generating income in the face of adversity.”

Pop Up Business School

Helping more than 200 entrepreneurs of the future! 

The economic affects have hindered many people this past year, with job and career opportunities taken away from ambitious, would-be entrepreneurs who have less access to funding than ever. 

Conscious of the impact of this, in September 2020, the PFP Community Investment Fund teamed up with The Guinness Partnership, helped almost 300 entrepreneurs via a new initiative - Pop Up Business Ltd. 

Across its operations, Places for People offers a wide range of support to help improve its customers’ lives – this time focusing on aspiring entrepreneurs. Via Pop Up Business it could help customers who were keen to start up their own businesses but for numerous reasons – often circumstance or lack of funding – couldn’t realise their ambitions. 

The course

In its first guise, Pop Up Business was established with the help of an initial £7,500 investment by PFP’s Community Investment Fund and The Guinness Partnership. The money helped fund a week-long course for PFP customers – allowing all to attend regardless of their experience.

Run by Pop Up Business School, the course covered a broad range of content, helping passionate people realise their ideas and establish a business. It helped customers build on a dream, showing them a range of commercial skills – from how to market their business idea, build a free website, manage tax and VAT – and ultimately set them on their journey to entrepreneurialism.

From small acorns… 

With the September course so successful, PFP and The Guinness Group decided to build on the offering, investing £7,000 in a second Pop Up Business course, this time focusing on one geographical area which had been hit hard by the pandemic – Milton Keynes.  

This is an area significantly affected by the pandemic; research showed that Milton Keynes had seen its unemployment claimant count rise significantly during 2020; reaching 6.3% (or 10,750 claimants) in July 2020, compared with 2.1% (or 3,500 claimants) in July 2019. It is expected that the population of the Milton Keynes metropolitan area will reach 500,000 residents by 2050, so it is essential that the future residents of Milton Keynes have access to homes, jobs and community facilities that enable them to thrive.

Against that economic context, a decision was made to run a two-week course here, one which was attended by more than 70 bright people. PFP and The Guinness Partnership also helped secure extra funding from the local authority too – allowing for enhanced sessions which would help people here get back on their feet. 

Tony Hennon, Community Investment Fund Project Co-ordinator for Places for People, helped establish both courses and explained: “Our second Pop Up Business course was a great success. We’d learnt from the first UK-wide course and realised that focusing on specific areas was a better way of helping our customers – especially in an area which had been affected by the pandemic and was hindering the opportunities of so many people.

“There’s a lot of housing in Milton Keynes with a high-density population – the effects of lockdown and the pandemic as a whole resulted in many of our customers being furloughed from their jobs or were sadly made redundant. We needed to act fast to help and this was our pro-active response.” 

On both courses, clear objectives were established from the outset. The course would help customers start their own business, improve in confidence, and increase their own financial stability during unprecedented times. In turn, the hope was to encourage other customers to do the same and stimulate local economies and provide access to opportunities that wouldn’t be available to customers through normal business channels. Tony continued: “We wanted to create a ripple effect, instilling confidence and positivity in more and more people. We wanted to open doors and give people contacts so that they could actually turn their ideas into something real; we empowered them and I’m so proud of what’s already been achieved.”

Brighter futures for more people 

“Pop Up Business has proved you can turn a hobby into a business with no investment at all,” Tony continued. “Once established, the course participants can keep in regular contact with PopUp Business School and support, for example, applying for a business loan, is readily available when participants are ready to expand. 

“The Milton Keynes project has been so successful we’re already looking to fund a course in Sheffield early next year. We’re currently in talks with the local authority and at least six other housing providers – so it’s definitely ramping up and each time we learn more. 

“It’s really exciting to think that our customers can go from one day, wondering where to turn financially, to then be set up with a website and trading the next! Participants like NAME prove how accessible and fruitful attending a course like this can be, we look forward to supporting even more PFP customers and helping them achieve their dreams.”

For more information on the PopUp Business School visit: www.popupbusinessschool.co.uk. 

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