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Successful Work Ready Programme

31 May 2016

Thames Reach’s first Work Ready Programme of 2016 took place at the Employment Academy in Camberwell last week, with 21 people graduating from the course.

Now in its third year, the Work Ready Programme, developed and run in partnership with management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, helps participants build confidence and acquire skills they are likely to need in employment through a week-long course, which includes a weekend activities trip, followed by classes and onsite training sessions at a place of work.

Volunteers from professional services company KPMG delivered the course in late May, and will also be providing the ongoing mentoring service for graduates that follows each programme.

The course began with a weekend away at a residential centre in the Chilterns, where participants took part in a range of activities such as football, rugby, art classes, yoga and orienteering.

On Monday, the programme moved on to the Employment Academy, where confidence building workshops took place, followed by a CV building class led by accountancy firm Ecovis.

Participants were given the choice of three training workshops on Tuesday: a first aid course, led by St John Ambulance, a food hygiene course or barista training, each with a certificate awarded on completion.

On Wednesday, participants went on site trips to get a feel for a working environment, visiting either the McKinsey offices, Waitrose, St Thomas’ Hospital or a Berkeley Group construction site.

The week was rounded off with a job fair at the Employment Academy on Thursday, where those on the course met with potential employers, followed by a celebratory meal at the Brewbird café and a graduation ceremony.

Programme participant Jackie reflected on her experiences over the week, saying: “I had a fabulous weekend away. I had the fastest time round the course for the orienteering.”

Jackie had recently been treated for drug and alcohol misuse and has been out of work for four years. She saw the course as an ideal opportunity to rebuild some confidence and self-esteem.

“It’s been a great week for me, with a real positive outcome. I’ve got an accredited food hygiene certificate, which lasts for three years, and I met with an agency at the job fair who accept it as a qualification. I’m also getting a volunteering placement for three days a week,” she said.

Her fellow participant Neil said: “The week was phenomenal. I’ve had a professional career all my life until I was made redundant two years ago. I was in a difficult place after that, but this week has really helped me in the ongoing process of rebuilding my confidence.

“I was terrified on Saturday morning but that had vanished within half an hour. Everyone was amazing, though I was gutted Jackie beat me by one minute in the orienteering. We’re all already arranging to meet up again next month.

“I got some great feedback from the job fair and I learned a lot from the CV workshop. I’m also really heartened to see that the support continues after the programme is over with the ongoing mentoring scheme,” he added.

Chris Deacon, Thames Reach’s operational support manager, said: ““The positive impact of the Work Ready Programme on the participants has been clear to see.

“It’s been really encouraging to hear the graduates talk about new skills they’ve learnt, feeling more self-confident and getting ready to return to employment.”
Work Ready Programme Berkeley
Work Ready Programme participants visit a Berkeley Group construction site