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Friendships, Networks and Employment

7 September 2021

Friendships, Network and Employment Friendships, Network and Employment

In Kempston, people who have English as a second language have built confidence, developed friendships and undertaken training to develop key skills to help them get back into work.

1mpacts Building Blocks programme offered sessions on interview techniques, writing a CV and even starting your own business. Designed to help participants get back into work, the programme offered mentoring, support, coaching and built confidence to help participants to take the next step in life.

At the end of 2020, the programme had to adapt their delivery in line with government COVID-19 restrictions.

James Bambridge, Director of 1mpact, said: “Due to the pandemic, we moved all delivery to online sessions at Christmas 2020. Although challenging, this presented a real opportunity as it supported digital skill development. Many learners had never used online video conferencing. The virtual sessions helped them learn to use the software, which then came in handy for their children’s educations.

“Learners commented on how much they enjoyed the online classes, the subjects we covered and making friends with people from diverse nationalities.”

Using the new resources, learners quickly adapted to studying online via tutor-guided lessons. Online classes were occasionally streamed ‘Live’ and were recorded for re-studying purposes, for example, if a student wanted to re-visit a class or was absent.

The impact of the building blocks programme was profound. Three students have entered employment, with many others gaining high-level confidence and using English language more often throughout their lives.

One participant commented: “This course was a fantastic time to develop communications skills. I stopped being afraid to speak, even if I still do make mistakes.”

“I’ve learned a lot of new skills which I’ve never used before. I know how to properly write a CV and how to describe myself at a job interview.”

1mpact’s project worked in conjunction with the wider support channels available in Bedford; this included family support services for those who feel isolated, crisis help, foodbank support and welfare advice.

The Building Blocks programme was funded by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SEMLEP) Community Grants programme. The programme offers Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises grants of between £10,000 to £20,000 to help people most isolated to get back into work or training.

James added, “We were pleased to get the grant as we had spent a large part of 2020 developing the integrated service in Kempston. Without the funding, we would not have been able to continue to support participants in Kempston.”

Funding has allowed project 229 (a multi-agency community center in Kempston High Street) to thrive - with future plans to setup Fitness and Wellbeing sessions and a Language Café. Learners can develop support networks and friendships; and at the Language Café, attend conversational classes.

For more information on 1mpact, visit: www.1mpact-group.co.uk

For more information on SEMLEP’s Community Grants programme, or to apply for the funding, visit: https://bit.ly/3jExVP2

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of applying for a grant?

“It is important to be very organised and have partnerships in place to work closely with for the recruitment and progression. We have done well in these areas and by making sure our offer supports local needs, which has made things easy.

“We are constantly working with our partners in the area and see ourselves as part of the overall local solution. Building connections has been really important for us.

“Before applying you really need to understand how and where you will recruit from and refer to the programme. The application itself is not complicated but there is a lot of paperwork and monitoring of learners to record evidence, so you need to be pretty organised to keep on top of this.”





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