Welcome to our June blog post readers! This time we’re meeting another member of the Moneywise Plus delivery team, Kylie North. Kylie is based at Pedestrian Limited in Leicester city centre and leads on the Employability Routeway part of the service.
What is your role at Pedestrian Limited and with Moneywise Plus? What does it involve?
I am Project Coordinator at Pedestrian, and Employability Routeway Lead for Moneywise Plus. The latter involves organising the Employability Routeway courses, which include the Mentoring and Steps To Work courses. Steps To Work has changed recently: it’s now being delivered to small groups of 1-4 people in a modular fashion, tailored specifically to client needs. I’m also responsible for managing and completing the administrative requirements of my routeway.
What things are covered in Steps To Work sessions, what do participants learn?
Within the framework of the course are the modules, which include personal aspects like socialising, making connections, and being open to learning. In the first section we find out about the participant’s background: completing a timeline showing their past, present and future, which lets us see and reflect on what they’ve done, what they’re currently doing and where they would like to be. This helps us identify which kind of job role they may like to apply for.
The rest of the course is then tailored to the individual, since each participant’s needs are different. For example, some participants may be interested in volunteer positions only, or looking for work in particular fields. We work on getting their CV and personal statements up to date, and provide support with the regular aspects of job searching like sending applications via email, or making phone calls to prospective employers. If the participant comes to us without an email account already set up, we will do that for them too.
What is the purpose of the Steps To Work and Mentoring sessions?
We aim to give people the tools they need to get back into work, including encouraging them to set SMART targets – both long and short term – so they can stay on track and achieve their aspirations. To help with this, we refer participants to organisations for further learning, like Leicester College and Leicester Adult Education Centre. We also ensure access to support once they’ve finished working with Moneywise Plus, so we signpost them to other providers. When participants first come to us, they can be very disillusioned and have low confidence – communication issues are also a common problem. These are things that we try to address through the course and the work we do with participants.
Through the Mentoring course we equip people with the skills and experience to support volunteers, working in partnership with Russell Payne’s Digital Champions programme. We train the mentors and then refer them to Russ to be teamed up with volunteers.
Why is it important that people gain employability skills?
I wouldn’t call them employability skills per se, rather general life skills such as communication, interaction, knowing the difference between talking to a close friend and conversing with a colleague in a professional environment, and being able to set and respect boundaries. Then there’s the more technical skills that people in today’s job market are expected to know, like using email and the Internet. These may not be things that our participants have used or had a need for in their lives before. The current job market is so competitive that jobseekers need to be really well prepared in order to stand out and get those opportunities, so the work we do in practising and preparing for interviews is a big help. One of the biggest changes we see in participants is the realisation that yes, they do have the skills to do that job, and they may as well apply – the worst that can happen is that the employer will say no!
What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
I think all of us working on Moneywise Plus would say a similar thing: it’s the change you see in the people that you work with, and seeing how far they progress during their time on the project. You can tell just from talking to participants how much they’ve grown. It’s also great to give them something positive to focus on, rather than the difficulties or barriers they may have faced.
Do you have any participant success stories to share?
One participant that we really enjoyed working with was N. He was hard of hearing, struggled with communication, and was solely interested in gaining a volunteering position. He didn’t see the point in trying to get a job because he didn’t have any experience; previously he’d been a carer for his parents but then they had passed away and he’d been left on his own. He received some practical help from us to ensure that he was equipped to live by and care for himself, once those issues were addressed he was then able to think about his future and what he wants from life.
We supported him to apply for a volunteer position with Age UK, which he succeeded in getting. We the ensured that he could attend a training day for the role and could provide the requisite paperwork. It was really rewarding to work with N, as you could tell that our support had made a huge difference to him, his life, and happiness. It’s the start of his journey towards entering the world of work and gaining the experience he needs to gain a paid position. He was clearly drawn to caring roles so perhaps will pursue a career in that field. He was always on time, engaged, involved, invested and committed to what we’re doing – he put a lot into his time with us, and got a lot out of it in return.
Are you over 16 years, eligible to live and work in the UK and currently not in employment? The Moneywise Plus project may be able to help you. We offer support and training to get you ready for the world of work, including completing job applications, developing volunteering skills and building your confidence. Find out more and discover if you’re eligible for our service on our website, or call us on 0300 003 7004.