Employment Academy
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New Employment Academy service celebrates successful start

Thames Reach service user Tawakalitu Babalola and IAG volunteer Godfried Dapaah
Thames Reach service user Tawakalitu Babalola (left) is pictured with Information, Advice and Guidance volunteer Godfried Dapaah

27 September 2013

A new drop-in service helping long-term unemployed and formerly homeless men and women get back into work is celebrating after helping 43 people since it was launched less than two months ago.

The Thames Reach Information, Advice and Guidance service, which runs from Thames Reach’s Employment Academy in Southwark, has also added seven permanent peer mentor volunteers – men and women who have themselves experienced some of the difficulties faced by people using the service.

 The scheme is now aiming to get at least four people using the service every day and is looking for more peer mentor volunteers to help run the service.

Southwark resident Godfried Dapaah, 34, was one of the first people to use the Information, Advice and Guidance service. He now works as a peer mentor volunteer for the team and can draw on his own experiences, including a period of homelessness.

Godfried said: “After getting my own place and finally feeling more settled in my life, I knew I was ready to start looking for work again. Wonde, who manages the service, recognised my skills and capabilities and asked if I would like to join the Information, Advice and Guidance team as a volunteer.

“I have to say I love the work and I feel I’m making a difference to the lives of people who are going through some of the issues I faced.”

Julie James, 47, is another of the team’s volunteers who can draw on her own experiences of homelessness to help others.

Julie said: “I was homeless for 10 months, including a short spell spent sleeping rough. I understand the challenges some of these people are going through and how difficult it is to get back into work after a long time away from the workplace.

“We try and develop people’s self-esteem and confidence as well as equipping people with the right skills to get back into work.”

Thames Reach employment and resettlement team worker Wonde Mosie, who manages the service said:

“I’m excited about the potential of the Information, Advice and Guidance service. We have exceeded our original targets and there is clearly a need for this type of scheme in the area. Already many men and women from Southwark and Lambeth have benefited, including two people who have found paid work, as well as many more who have started volunteering and training courses.”

The Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in is free and open to all and runs every weekday from 10am – 4pm at the Thames Reach Employment Academy, 29 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UA. For more information please call Thames Reach’s Employment and Resettlement helpdesk on 020 3617 6070 or email ERhelpdesk@thamesreach.org.uk