Aspire – YMCA Cardiff

Aspire is an employability project, which supports participants to move closer to the workplace.

Participants accepted have a mental health condition, have been unemployed on average for five years, are claiming benefits and are homeless. This makes them a group defined as ‘hardest to reach’ and the most unlikely to come off benefits. With existing employment schemes and recruitment channels not proving effective, Aspire supports participants towards employment in a manageable and supportive way.

Participants attend four weeks of training, learning coping strategies for their mental health, enhancing their employability skills and, depending on the pathway they choose, gaining qualifications.

Aspire is based at YMCA Cardiff’s homeless hostel. This familiar environment has facilitated regular positive engagement, which has led to a series of positive outcomes. 63 residents have taken part in the programme since its inception in 2016. Every participant has gained five or more development outcomes, from creating a CV to completing sessions with a workplace psychologist.

All participants state they have seen an improvement in their mental wellbeing and self-esteem and that they feel more prepared for the workplace as a result of the programme. 89% report they have learnt or improved existing skills.

Following the training period, participants are linked with local businesses for supported work placements, enabling them to gain experience, showcase their skills and allow businesses to witness their potential.

Get on Track – YMCA West London

Get on Track is a 14-month transformational mentoring programme for 16 to 25-year-olds, led by YMCA youth workers and in partnership with athletes from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

The scheme starts with a six week programme to set personal development goals and enhance their chances of securing employment both in and outside YMCA, including, team building, healthy lifestyles, timekeeping, budgeting, writing CVs and applications, work experience both inside and outside YMCA, and continues with follow-up individual mentoring sessions.

We have run nine programmes over the past three years, with around 20 individuals on each. A rate of 87% young people have gained employment within three months of the start of each programme. Included in those figures are at least eight young people who have gone on to become YMCA apprentices and fully qualified members of staff.

We’ve seen how well Get on Track works time and again, especially when the team works together to deliver a community event. The most recent was a sports day for 120 pupils from a local primary school, with the feedback being overwhelmingly positive.

Mentoring from the youth workers (a number of which have come from similar backgrounds or have come through the programme themselves) and from the athletes is invaluable. Even if the young people are not sporty, it’s about changing attitudes and mind-set.

Training & Education Initiative – YMCA Somerset Coast

This year the Training and Education Initiative was launched, which is key to the organisation’s mission.

Alongside providing supported accommodation, this project encourages self-development and a positive focus for young people.

This initiative was created in response to a noticeable increase in residents not being in education, training or employment, and of those, a large proportion with mental health issues. Each individual requires concentrated bespoke support with continued development of a wide range of interventions and opportunities.

Through YMCA Somerset Coast’s social enterprises, apprenticeships will be increased to 20 by the end of 2018, covering catering, hospitality, housekeeping, childcare activities, building management and property maintenance. Working relationships have been developed with some of the region’s biggest employers, including EDF and Marks & Spencer. Recently M&S staff spent the day with our residents coaching them on how to find work opportunities and write applications that would get them over the first hurdle to the interview stage. The team then concentrated on helping them impress employers in a face to face scenario. The young people were treated to make overs and generously outfitted in new M&S clothes to boost their confidence even more. The interview panel reported that had this been a real-life job opening, all would have gained employment.

In addition to mental and physical health triages, life skills and coping strategies, young people take a Tenant Accreditation Certificate, which gives private landlords confidence to accept young people moving on from YMCA, they will be responsible tenants.

The benchmark set to measure impact is through looking at success stories, including that of a resident who nine months ago was having anxiety attacks over minor issues going on to gain Tenant Accreditation, moving to private rented accommodation, securing a job, and transforming into a smart, confident, happy, and increasingly independent young person.

Menu of Services – YMCA Trinity Group

Menu of Services started in 2015 as a result of a consultation to address mental health issues in schools.

We have worked with over 65 schools, building a reputation as a leading expert in mental health provision. Based on need, we have a range of programmes to provide schools with a one-stop-shop for wellbeing support.

One particular success is our training, which encompasses a range of tailored courses, including whole school training workshops, Young Health Champions and Body Image Awards to raise awareness and develop peer support programmes, parent and student workshops and Train the Trainer.

The impact on young people has been substantial, with schools reporting increased awareness of how to spot the early signs of mental health issues, and reduced clinical referrals. By helping to upskill staff, we have been able to increase their confidence and skills to build resilience and coping strategies, thus reducing the risk of mental health issues developing. As part of our wider approach, it has enabled schools to build a positive wellbeing culture that encourages the whole school community to engage, and create pathways for those that need support in a sustainable and cost effective way. Not only do we train schools, but we also offer advice and provide tailored resources to help young people thrive and reach their potential.

In 18 months, we have trained 820 staff, 300 young people and more than 164 schools. Wider service providers locally and nationally have also accessed our programme and we are currently working with a distance learning provider to provide free training to further raise awareness.

Our training is developed internally by clinical professionals, ensuring we can provide our own cost effective programmes and position YMCA as a leading provider of mental health services.

Feedback has been excellent: 96% learned more, 95% enjoyed it and 97% said it was relevant.

“Excellent training, learnt lots and want to learn more. Trainer was fantastic”

“A very useful session with some good practical strategies that I can use in my role”

“Realistic and concrete examples – can relate to children in your classroom”

Start Up Citywide – YMCA North Staffordshire

Start Up Citywide is a training programme with employment coaches embedded alongside professional colleagues based within Children’s Centres in Stoke-on-Trent.

Running for 15 years, the project has transformed the lives of more than 5,000 families, supporting more than 1,000 young parents into sustainable employment – many for the first time – and equipped them with over 7,000 nationally recognised qualifications.

All parents have at least one child under five and 85% are aged between 20 to 30 years. Over 80% had not worked for three or more years with many having never worked. 72% had left school with no qualifications and 78% reported having not engaged with further learning since the end of school education.

The principal aim of the project is to reduce the numbers of children growing up in poverty. Each parent is designated a qualified employment coach. The coach identifies their barriers and aspirations, developing personalised action plans and securing support from co-located, multi-disciplinary colleagues. Parents are supported with literacy and numeracy and supported in accessing nationally recognised progression qualifications.

In the past two years alone, the project has worked with 1,322 families, supporting 224 parents into sustainable employment, 92 in volunteering and has delivered over 1,000 qualifications.

Y Engage – YMCA Swansea

Created in 2014, the project was created to meet the needs of unemployed adults and young people across West Wales and the Valleys, working in some of the most deprived communities.

Y Engage is an employability and training programme, which aims to work with the most vulnerable in their own communities, to move them closer to employment, gain skills and qualifications, access valuable work related volunteering opportunities and paid work placements, increase confidence, and ultimately move into the labour market.

The training is matched to the needs of the individual and aligned to the employability sector in Swansea and the surrounding areas. A full suite of training was developed across work related competencies and sector specific, for example, food hygiene, care work and retail to more specialist areas, such as blacksmithing and landscape management (part of a partnership to develop rangers for the National Trust).

Funded by ESF, the training has appointed a team of highly skilled workers to support 380 adults with work limiting health conditions and NEET young people over 18 months.

The scheme has become a recognised training centre and 360 people have gained accredited entry-level qualifications.

The person centred approach adopted using best practice participation and engagement models, has been successful, and new programmes will support a further 800 adults and young people.

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