A housing association’s job-boosting scheme has helped five customers back into work in just two months.
Futures Housing Group, which manages 9,000 properties around Daventry district (formerly known as Daventry and District Housing) and in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, introduced its Futures Gateways initiative to help customers access job opportunities, gain qualifications and increase their confidence.
The free service has seen five customers earn almost £10,000 between them and helped a further 13 get a job interview since its launch in June. A total of 28 customers are currently using the scheme and over 60 one-to-one job skill sessions have taken place.
One customer to have benefited is Zak Nixon-Brown, 19, who lives in Daventry and had been claiming Universal Credit until the local Job Centre recommended Futures’ new initiative.
Zak initially completed an eight-week training placement with Futures’ grounds and maintenance social enterprise, Futures Greenscape. The placement, supported by Access Training – the training provider co-owned by Futures - also included employability preparation skills and English and maths tuition.
“It was nice to get outside and learn new skills and receive support with finding work,” said Zak.
“I’d previously completed a two-year building maintenance course at college and I saw this as a foot in the door.”
Alongside four other customers Zak successfully graduated from the placement and he was later offered a seasonal role with Futures Greenscape.
“I’ve enjoyed it and learnt a lot,” he said. “I’ve done grass cutting, void clearances and now I’m painting and decorating.
“When I first started I was shy and very nervous but now I’m a lot more confident and my work has improved. It’s really satisfying when you’ve finished a day’s work and can see what you’ve achieved.”
That sense of achievement is in sharp contrast to how Zak felt when he was claiming Universal Credit.
“I was up until silly o’clock playing on the Xbox and then slept for half of the day,” he said.
“I feel so much better now. I have a routine, I’m a lot healthier and I’m much more prepared for the future. I’m more focused on my career and really keen to do an apprenticeship.”
Other customers to have benefited from the service have carried out work experience placements with Futures or gained employment with other organisations.
Futures Housing Group chief executive, Lindsey Williams, said: “Helping customers into work is a big part of our commitment to creating better communities and helping people sustain their tenancies.
“Zak has shown great initiative and tenacity to gain experience and then find paid work. It means that he no longer relies upon Universal Credit for his income and is set up well for the future.
“Futures Gateways is supporting our customers, regardless of their existing experience or qualifications, to better prepare themselves for employment. The progress that has already been made is extremely encouraging.”
For more information on Futures’ employment and training support, visit www.futureshg.co.uk or call 0300 456 2531.