2nd-7th March 2020 was National Careers Week. This national initiative promotes good careers education in schools and colleges. Through our work at GMCVO we recognise that careers support and guidance is beneficial not only in schools and colleges, but for young people who may have missed out on this and are not in further education; for parents and carers looking to return to work in a different sector in order to find flexible work opportunities; and for older people for whom the employment landscape has changed since they first entered it. For some, the jobs they originally trained to do no longer exist due to advances in technology and automaton.
The Caring, Working, Living project at GMCVO supports parents and carers who are looking to return to paid employment (Returners) to find career support in a range of different ways: from public sector providers like National Careers Service; housing associations that provide job coaching and jobs clubs; employers willing to offer workplace visits; online resources and from VCSE sector providers that can provide a range of holistic support. The information about local services are sent to Returners. We currently work with 23 different employment support organisations across Greater Manchester as part of our offer.
One such VCSE provider is Volition, a Greater Manchester charity based at Manchester Cathedral Visitor Centre. They offer a 10-week programme of volunteering; jobs clubs; an accredited employability training course delivered by Manchester College and mentoring opportunities with staff; peers and employers.
Whilst Volition can work with anyone aged 18- 65 years old, the majority of people they have worked with are aged 40- 65 years old, and have often lost hope of finding employment. Typically, Volition volunteers have been unemployed for over 5 years. Often they feel as though the barriers they face in relation to finding employment are insurmountable. Throughout the course of the 10-week programme volunteers receive support to think creatively about their options, widen their horizons and start to break down their barriers.
Volition Programme Co-ordinator John Emsley explains “from day one Volition volunteers start to reflect on they how have developed relevant skills and attributes transferrable into today’s labour market from their previous life and work experiences. We foster the idea that although employers are looking for talent, this is not always evidenced by a piece of paper and often just means transferrable, usable skills and competencies. These ‘soft skills’ are often difficult to quantify. Via our training programme; review processes; and placement opportunities we support the development of skills including communication, collaboration, resilience, reliability and self-awareness.
Volunteering opportunities and Volition’s commercial partnerships also provide weekly opportunities for volunteers to carry out meaningful work experience and connect with employers from a range of different sectors. Engaging in activities that many people have never done before develops new skills and a self-realisation about strengths and development areas that both enhances personal progression to work and taking a more participatory role in society”.
As with Caring, Working, Living, Volition work with a wide range of employers including DWF Solicitors and Hotel Football. They are able to offer volunteers the chance to step into the workplace and see what they might be able to do, rather than focus on a smaller number of roles based on what they believe they are limited to because of their lack of work experience or assumptions they have held about gendered roles. Volition believe this support to build relationships with employers is key to the careers support they deliver, along with the ability to tap into specialist support from Manchester College. It is particularly effective when supporting under confident adults to identify where their strengths and transferable skills lie.
We share information about Volition with Returners on the Caring, Working, Living project. We spoke to Celia1 who decided to join Volition after receiving information from us. She had also met Donna Denston from Volition, when both attended the Caring, Working, Living panel2 in November. Having met Donna and received more information at a Volition event, Celia decided to join Volition and has been receiving their support since 15th January 2020.
“Without Caring, Working, Living I would never have found out about Volition.”
Celia has received a range of support from Volition. She has attended a variety of sessions including CV, IT skills and LinkedIn sessions. These sessions are sometimes attended by employers; Celia attended a session on building a LinkedIn profile which was facilitated by Lloyd’s Bank who provided tips on how to make the profile stand out, and how they use LinkedIn. She is also currently doing a placement with Volition at Manchester Cathedral. For two-days a week she does administration, working in their reception and office. Overall, Celia has found her experience at Volition incredibly positive saying “I can’t praise them enough…the staff make everyone feel very welcome.”
Caring, Working, Living continues to support Celia alongside Volition. She discussed how the collaboration between the organisations is obvious as she sometimes receives the same information from both projects. Caring, Working, Living works collaboratively with employment support organisations such as Volition: sharing information with them about our pre-employment events which we are often able to open up to other jobseekers.
Celia still reads the information sent to her by Caring, Working, Living and attends our pre-employment events such as the Engie Interview Workshop. She says “… I still read the emails sent by Caring, Working, Living as I find them really helpful”. There are currently a number of parents and carers receiving support from both Volition and Caring, Working, Living. See our website for further information about the support that we can offer to parents and carers looking to return to work: https://www.gmcvo.org.uk/caringworkingliving/returners
1 False name
2The Caring, Working, Living Panel is a chance for employers, employment support organisations and Returners to get together to discuss issues relating to the delivery of the project and its aims.