People Matter work in Eastbourne to help those who are unemployed to enter employment, volunteering or training – focusing particularly on those aged 50-plus, and those with English as a second language.
Winning a NatWest Skills & Opportunities Fund grant for their Make Change project, has allowed the organisation to extend their service to help 60 people in Eastbourne to improve their skills for employment, with the aim of getting back into work in the future. It has also allowed them to continue to provide all services free of charge at the point of need. Ann Gillard explains more:
“Through Make Change, we offer a menu of services, including a level two Food Hygiene qualification, basic IT training and weekly soft-skills and employability workshops. We also provide one-to-one coaching, access to our job-search facilities and regular 'meet-and greet' events, which facilitate interview opportunities for those with more complex needs.
“As well as offering a variety of training options, we aim to radically improve confidence and self-esteem and reduce anxiety about work. Clients tell us that they find this a place they can return to, they respond well to our approach and the atmosphere of the organisation. We have received some really positive feedback, including: “Everyone is always supportive and helpful,” and, “You make me feel different about my job search – optimistic”.
The funding has allowed People Matter to offer more intensive support for those who are most vulnerable in the community in areas such as computer skills – even converting some of the most sceptical – as Ann explains:
“I’ve taught many people basic computer skills; some people have accessed the service with no prior knowledge or skills. One client who was initially very unenthusiastic as he considered himself ‘too old and set in his ways,’ has recently gone on to complete a computer course with Learn Direct. With support and encouragement, people can definitely change their attitude.”
As well as providing clients with a welcome boost, the project has also done the same for the charity itself:
“The opportunities to network and build wider relationships with prospective clients and other organisations in the local area, including employers, Job Centre, and other strategic and charitable organisations, that Make Change has provided have enabled us to build on our already well-respected reputation,” explains Ann.
"Make Change has been an undoubted success, with demand for services exceeding expectations and at least 22 people expected to secure local employment as a result of the project."
"Clients feel happier having accessed Make Change. They can maintain their Job Seekers Allowance and Universal Credit benefit commitments; have a chance to speak and engage with others in similar situations – improving isolation and confidence issues, and improve IT skills in the Job Club.
We will use what we have learned during this phase to continue to embed many of these services and expand others.”