BBO - Get Socially Active
This project, Get Socially Active (GSA), began in October 2016 across three areas of Brighton and Hove and East and West Sussex. The project is part of a larger nationwide programme funded by European Social Fund and The Big Lottery Fund to support vulnerable people into employment. GSA is a partnership project, led by Friends Centre Adult Education Centre in Brighton.
The WEA delivers this project in one of these areas covering the districts of Portslade, Fishersgate and Southwick. It is an employability project focused on supporting people who have been out of work for a long time for reasons of mental or physical disability or caring responsibilities, or those who have been economically inactive and not seeking work at all.
How does it work?
Through their engagement with the project, participants work to an agreed action plan which can include training and education as well as employment focused activities such as CV development, interview skills etc.
Participants are referred to the project by a number of other organisations including the Job Centre in Hove, where advisers are very supportive of the project and the Project Worker liaises closely with them to use their premises to meet clients for the first time and hold confidential one to one meetings. Other key referrers are the Health and Wellbeing team in Adur and Worthing and the Brighton based MIND Wellbeing officer, both of whom refer participants regularly when they feel they are at a suitable stage to join the project. People can also self-refer or be signposted to the project by friends and family.
What are the main objectives?
The project has two main aims:
- Identify new participants and encourage them to join the project and work towards agreed goals in their own personal journey towards becoming ready for work. They do this by attending regular meetings on a one to one basis with the Project Worker who also works on their behalf to research appropriate training and employment opportunities.
- Encourage participation in a wider local community group. We are achieving this by setting up community groups of participants which meet regularly under the facilitation of the Project Worker. We aim to have three of these New Beginnings groups by the end of the project, and they are very much led by the needs of the participants themselves. A common theme emerging is reducing isolation and providing a friendly safe space for people to come and meet others who may have experienced similar challenges in their life.
What have we achieved so far?
The creation of the first “New Beginnings” group which is now up and running and has a strong employment and training focus as this is what the members want. However, it is equally a supportive and positive environment for participants to come to if they need help with a problem or just want some friendly encouragement and a cup of tea.
The WEA Project Worker is now supporting over 20 participants on a one-to-one basis and is about to start the development of the second “New Beginnings” group where some of these newer recruits can begin to meet and share their experiences. This second group may have more of an emphasis on health needs and living with a long-term health condition as many of the current cohort of participants struggle with these issues. Inevitably, the stresses and strains of living with a variety of disadvantages and navigating a changing health and welfare system take its toll on our participants and progress have to be paced according to their needs.
Within this broad spectrum of the struggles of daily life the GSA project hopes to provide support and help for some of the most disadvantaged people in the community and is encountering some challenges but also some great successes. The project runs until the end of September 2019.