Supporting those facing complex barriers to employment

By Victoria Whittle, Head of Jobs and Training at Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group


02 09 2022

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When it comes to supporting people into work, there is no one size fits all approach. Everyone’s circumstances are different and so at Clarion, we’ve developed a truly tailored and holistic employability support offer.

Those who are furthest from the labour market, however, often need a more intensive and wide-ranging package of support, and that’s where our Active Inclusion programme comes in.

Since 2016, our Love London Working programme has provided unemployed and economically inactive Londoners aged over 16 with the support they need to join the labour market. Led by Clarion, the programme is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) delivered by a consortium of nine housing associations and managed by the Greater London Authority (GLA).

To date, more than 7,000 people have been supported into work thanks to Love London Working, and the programme is going from strength to strength. September 2020 saw the introduction of the Active Inclusion programme targeting people facing a range of complex barriers and providing coordinated 360-degree support.

The innovative programme provides support for low earners working in primarily entry-level positions to upskill with a view to securing more stable employment. We also provide support for residents with multiple needs considered to be some way from being job-ready, helping them overcome barriers to work including lack of digital literacy and functional skills, debt and mental health and wellbeing issues, as well as physical disabilities.

Through our Active Inclusion programme, we aim to support 610 London residents facing complex barriers into employment by March 2023, working with Charlton Triangle Homes, Poplar Harca, Hexagon Housing, and MTVH. So far we have supported 400 people to improve their job prospects, with 60 securing employment.

At Clarion, participants are supported by a team of specialists who collaborate to address specific needs and generate the best outcomes, including:

  • Employment Support Officers who work with smaller caseloads enabling them to spend more time supporting participants and addressing the individual barriers preventing them from progressing towards employment.
  • A Mental Health Employment Specialist who works directly with participants to improve their mental health by developing individual wellbeing plans and organising walking groups to tackle social isolation, working with partners to signpost individuals to receive specific support as needed.
  • An In Work Support Officer who works directly with employers on an individual basis, supporting participants who are ready to work including workplace adjustments, travel training and accompanying individuals to interview, and providing in-work support.
  • Basic Skills Officers offering both classroom and virtual learning, supporting learners to complete Level 1 and Level 2 English and Maths qualifications.
  • Digital Champions who support participants to improve their digital skills, including providing devices to help with their training and job search activities.
  • Money Guidance Officers who provide financial wellbeing advice, including support with debt management, advice on reduction of bills, and developing budgeting skills.

During the past year, as restrictions associated with the pandemic have eased, we have transitioned from a remote service into an established community-based offer. We initiated outreach sites in cafés and libraries and launched our Active Inclusion Job Club where participants can socialise and explore jobs and training goals.

In Bromley, we have unveiled our new training centre with improved access to workshop and classroom facilities. And recognising that isolation and loneliness were emerging issues, we created an Active Inclusion Walking Group led by our Mental Health Employment Specialist that helps people on their journey to employment by improving their mental health and wellbeing.

The multi-faceted programme is genuinely transformative, making a difference to so many people across London. Our focus now is exploring further funding opportunities to enable us to expand the project beyond the capital and incorporate additional needs, improving the life chances of those furthest from the labour market.

By Victoria Whittle, Head of Jobs and Training at Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group

Twitter: @Clarion_Group / #ClarionFutures