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School students having a discussion with their teacher
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East Northamptonshire Enterprise Centre

Zooming into new opportunities

1 July 2020

The lockdown measures brought about rapid change to working conditions. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts have become integrated within our daily schedules for lots of people.

Some changes may be long-term. Remote working, where this is possible, may become the norm for many. Two specific local community projects have quickly adapted to embrace the situation, seeing new opportunity to help disadvantaged people develop the skills needed to secure employment in a post-lockdown world.

Disabled job seekers are excelling through the Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDs) Reach4Work programme, using their own experiences to redevelop a website to support other people with disabilities to access key employability information. Unemployed people over 50 ‘Zoom’ into new opportunities with the support of the Impactful Governance: Social Enterprise & Community Work programme.

“In the last 4 months, I have achieved more personally than I thought was possible. I have new-found confidence and skills.”

The Reach4Work project supports disabled people, or people with long-term health conditions, to realise their potential and use their talents without barriers, through digital work experience.

Reach4Work Project Co-ordinator,  Michael Broadley said “For many of our participants, working from home is a real benefit. Some people can struggle to get out of the house and into an office. In the home environment, productivity can rocket.” 

“BuDS gives me a daily focus, something to get up and dressed for in the morning and some sort of structure in these crazy and very lonely times.”

The Social Enterprise & Community Work programme helps unemployed over-50s to develop the valuable insight, experience and skills needed to create their own charity or social enterprise and secure employment in the community and voluntary sector.

“We help people to realise that they have really valuable skills just waiting to be used. For example, one participant, due to family circumstances, hadn’t had social interaction with another person in over a year. By being in a supportive environment (Zoom call) with people of a similar age in similar circumstances, her confidence dramatically improved. Using her newfound confidence, she is now making facemasks in the voluntary sector.”  Andrew Waite, Chief Executive at Impactful Governance–Community Interest Company.

Both projects, funded through SEMLEP’s Community Grants programme, support local communities to come together, a community even more crucial and valued at a time when some people risk becoming more isolated.

SEMLEP’s Community Grants programme will reopen for funding applications on 17 August 2020. The programme offers local community organisations 100% grant funding up to £20,000 to support people back into work or training. To find out more information, view our Community Grants page.

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