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The EP Blog
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The EP blog features a different article each edition that focuses on an issue of interest to employability professionals and front line advisors.


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Top tags: mental health 

The EP Blog

Posted By Administration, 07 June 2019

Supporting disabled people to get into work and creating more inclusive workspaces

by Guy Chaudoir, Employment Team Manager, Support to Work, Scope

There are 14 million disabled people in the UK today, that’s 1 in 5 of us. However, disabled people are being shut out of the workplace, facing countless barriers preventing them from entering, staying and progressing in work.

At Scope, we aim to close the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people by providing national and local employment services to support disabled people to get into, stay and progress in work; working with Government to shape legislation that helps to deliver equality in the workplace; and encouraging employers to create more inclusive workplaces.

Supporting disabled people to get into work

Support to Work is our online and telephone support programme for disabled people in England and Wales who are applying for jobs.

Dedicated employment advisers work with disabled people to create personally tailored 12-week action plans that include things like:

  • employability skills, such as time management and confidence
  • writing your CV or cover letter
  • preparing for interviews
  • reading job seekers' advice

Support to Work have supported 300 customers already this year, including Mustak, Anna and Kat:

Mustak found it hard to return to the law industry when he became unwell with depression in 2014.

“I didn’t really know how to deal with it, so I just quit the job. I didn’t tell my employer that I’d become unwell.

I came across Support to Work last year. My advisor checked my CV, he gave me feedback and then I applied for jobs. He was supportive, he rang me back when I asked him to, he kept in touch with me via email, he set me goals and he did research and found me jobs.

Because it’s all online, it’s very different to the job centre. You’ve got someone who’s helping you, who wants to talk to you, who’s making suggestions. This was the support I needed.”

Anna faced discrimination in interviews once her neuropathy progressed and she began using a walking stick.

“Since November I’ve had 22 job interviews and I’ve sent over 370 job applications. It’s a shame that employers cannot see anything behind the disability.

When I was struggling month after month, I decided to contact Scope and ask if I could use the service.

My advisor was brilliant. He cheered me up and kept me focused that I am able to be employed and to be someone’s employee. You need someone who will support you in this way, who will build your confidence despite your negative experience, and months and months of failure. You need someone who will balance this.”

Kat struggled with the lack of support for disabled graduates when job-hunting.

“I applied for quite a few jobs and I was getting de-motivated. I felt that employers would cull me at the paper stage if they knew I had ADHD.

I got some interviews and I was freaking out about them, so I contacted Support to Work and spoke to an advisor. We talked about my situation and we went through my CV and different questions regarding my interview. Having someone outside of your friends and family to help you really helps, and someone who understands your disability. It’s nice to have someone that’s impartial and it was so beneficial going through the pre-interview stages and having someone to support me.

After my interview, I gave my advisor a call to say that it went well. I got the job within a week of applying.

After you’ve finished university, you’re in your own world and having Support to Work helped me control my CV and control my nerves.”

Our target is to support 700 more disabled people over the rest of 2019.

Creating more inclusive workplaces

In partnership with Virgin Media, we’ve also launched the Work With Me campaign to encourage employers to build more inclusive workplaces for disabled people.

As part of the campaign we’re asking employers to sign the #WorkWithMe pledge. By signing the #WorkWithMe pledge, businesses are committing to reviewing their practices to create a more inclusive workplace for disabled people.

As part of the #WorkWithMe community, businesses will have access to many helpful resources that can support you on your journey of becoming a more inclusive employer such as practical guides, stories featuring first-hand experiences from both employers and disabled jobseekers and general information about disability.

Find out more at:

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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 08 May 2019

Establishing the Employment Gap

Disadvantaged children who qualify for free school meals are twice as likely to be out of work in later life than their better-off peers, and even when they get good qualifications at school the employment gap remains, according to research.

A report by Impetus, a venture philanthropy charity that aims to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds establishes for the first time an employment gap between young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better-off peers.  26% of those on FSM were not in education, employment, or training (NEET) after leaving school, compared with only 13% of non-FSM youngsters.

The study says young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to get good qualifications, but even when they have similar qualifications to their better-off peers, they are still 50% more likely to be out of education and employment as young adults.

The research is based on analysis of longitudinal education outcomes data from the Department for Education, which reveals the impact of growing up in a disadvantaged family on life chances and connects pupils’ school records with their subsequent journey into employment.

The report states: “It is well known that disadvantaged young people have worse qualification outcomes than their better-off peers. But qualification alone is not enough to explain the difference in NEET rates between disadvantaged young people and their better-off peers.

“Disadvantaged young people are around 50% more likely to be NEET than their similarly qualified but better-off peers. This is true at all levels of qualification and regardless of age. This means that half the gap in NEET rates between disadvantaged young people and their better-off peers can be explained by qualification – but half cannot.”

The study also shows that where children grow up affects their life chances – it finds that a disadvantaged young person in north-east England is 50% more likely to end up NEET than a disadvantaged young person in London.

Andy Ratcliffe, the CEO of Impetus, said: “We are breaking a fundamental promise to young people in this country. We tell them: ‘Study hard, get your qualifications and good jobs will follow.’

“For many young people this is true. But for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds it isn’t. They are less likely to get those qualifications and, even when they do, less likely to benefit.”

Dr Stefan Speckesser from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, which conducted the analysis, said the study showed that some local areas were more successfully tackling the negative effects of disadvantage, which are unrelated to education success, on young people’s school-to-work transitions. “From this point of view, the analysis of large data offers a great potential to see where local actors can achieve better outcomes and to learn from good practice,” he said.

A government spokesperson said: “Young people are participating in education and training at their highest rate since consistent records began and the latest figures show that the overall proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) was at 6.3%, the lowest rate on record.

“We are working closely with schools to assist 12- to 16-year-olds who have been identified as most likely to be at risk of becoming NEET. Jobcentres also help school pupils with career planning and link them up with local businesses for work experience placements. We also provide support for young people after they leave school to equip them with the skills and experience they need to progress.”

You can read the full report here

For more information about Impetus’s Research and Briefings contact Sam Windett, Director of Policy, Impetus–

Sam Windett will be speaking at the ERSA Youth Employment Forum on 6th June.

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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 10 February 2019
Updated: 01 February 2019

Disability Employment Gap 'Narrows'

by Jon Smith FIEP, Head of Operations (Work & Health), Shaw Trust


An increasing number of employability and healthcare professionals are now recognising the link between meaningful employment and improved health and wellbeing. ’Good work’, as the Taylor Review defines it, can give individuals a sense of purpose, increase their confidence and reduce feelings of social isolation. This enables people to lead more independent lives whilst ultimately making a positive contribution to society.  

As such, the UK government wants to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in good work. In particular, the government wants to support more disabled people to enter work, and has committed to halving the disability employment gap, i.e. the difference between the rates of employed non-disabled people and employed disabled people. The gap was 32% in 2016 and the target is to hit 16% in 2020.

And to date, progress is being made. A leading think tank says that disabled people have accounted for about a third of the increase in employment in the UK over the last decade. According to a new report from Resolution Foundation, the disability employment rate has risen by 6.1%, compared to a rise of 2.8% for those without disabilities.

Leading advocacy charity, Disability Rights UK welcomed the Resolution Foundation’s findings, but — quoting the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability report Ahead of the Arc — noted that 1,074,000 disabled people would have to be moved into employment to reach the government’s 16% target. In fact, Ahead of the Arc suggests it could take almost 50 years to narrow the gap to its target of 16 percentage points.

So how can we make even more progress in reducing the disability employment gap? To better support those with disabilities and health conditions to secure and sustain employment, there needs to be more emphasis on joining up existing services. Providers of employment services provision, such as the government’s flagship Work and Health Programme, must work to ensure that integration with local health, housing, money advice, adult skills and social services form the basis of their delivery. This service join-up ensures that disabled people can get all the support they need to move into work all in one place.

Better engagement of employers is also essential. Employers can be supported by providers to recognise the huge benefits that can be gained from having a diverse workforce. Improved advice and guidance for employers regarding reasonable adjustments and support available through schemes like Access to Work, will further strengthen their commitment to diversity and inclusion.So by working more collaboratively with employers, local services and individuals with health conditions and disabilities, employment services providers can play an important role in helping the government to achieve its aim to half the disability employment gap.


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The EP Blog

Posted By Administration, 20 November 2018

#PurpleLightUp – celebrating disabled people’s contributions

Employability organisations across the world, including Shaw Trust, are turning purple on Monday 3 December to celebrate the contributions of disabled people as employees and consumers.

The #PurpleLightUp campaign is all about recognising the significant value that disabled people add to our workplaces and society. It’s being co-ordinated by PurpleSpace, the world’s only networking and professional development hub for disabled employees, network and resource group leaders, and allies from all sectors and trades. 

The campaign coincides with the International Day of Disabled People, a globally recognised initiative to bring together a united voice to celebrate and empower disabled people. Employability professionals have a big part to play in this and are encouraged to take part.

Shaw Trust will be doing a number of things to participate in the campaign and these could form the basis of your own #PurpleLightUp activity. A number of their buildings will be lit up purple for the day and staff will be encouraged to pledge their support by wearing purple items of clothing, baking purple cakes and perhaps making purple smoothies. Shaw Trust retail stores will be encouraged to show off purple window displays and volunteers asked to wear their purple T-shirts.  Parts of their website and logo will be turning purple and purple messaging will be displayed on screens in their offices, hubs and shops.  The Trust will be asking people to write purple blogs on the theme of disability awareness and achievement, and on the same day will be opening nominations for the Power 100 2019 list.

Clare Gray, Shaw Trust’s Disability Advocacy Adviser, said: “#PurpleLightUp is generating excitement and passion for the campaign nationally and internationally, focusing on the value that disabled people contribute to the economy as consumers and employees. The campaign’s purpose is to forge a global identity, one that puts the positive contribution of disabled people and their networks in the spotlight.”

If you’re going to take part, why not let PurpleSpace know what you’re doing? Any why not send us some of your best purple photos?

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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 10 October 2018


Brexit – Millions are ready for an opportunity…

The UK is due to leave the EU in six months. There are many questions still unresolved, but one thing is clear. Whatever decisions are made between now and next March, UK employers will face a struggle after Brexit to find low skilled workers to keep their businesses moving.

A new report from the respected Migration Observatory at Oxford University calculates that over half a million EU citizens who currently work in the UK are carrying out low skilled jobs.

Those are jobs that don’t require qualifications gained after the compulsory schooling age. They include 132,000 people in cleaning jobs, 120,000 in basic hospitality businesses like coffee shops, 96,000 in warehousing and 90,000 working in factories.

That’s not all. In lower-middle skilled jobs (that’s those jobs involving some simple training as well as school qualifications), over 80,000 EU citizens currently work in our care services, 74,000 in food processing and 68,000 in shops and stores.

With parts of the UK experiencing virtual ‘full employment’, the Migration Observatory report confirms that current plans to address the likely shortfall of labour with non-EU countries will not be sufficient as the predicted number of EU workers in the UK falls.

But there is a solution closer to home.

‘We know that 1.36 million UK citizens who are keen to work don’t currently have a job,’ says Steve Hawkins, CEO of Pluss, a specialist employment provider. ‘This might be because they are struggling to find the right job with the right employer, or because their support needs mean they need help to develop the right set of skills to help them secure that job.’

Pluss is at the forefront of employment support. They provide specialist support for individuals with health conditions and disabilities to secure the right job with an employer who feels confident that they have recruited a great employee. Pluss’ conviction is that most people, with the right support, can be helped to realise their potential in work, and can make a significant contribution to our economy.

Steve Hawkins is clear. ‘We believe that Brexit provides a real opportunity for government to reduce the welfare budget supporting working age people, currently standing at £81bn, by providing the necessary support for many of those 1.36 million Britons who are seeking a helping hand to find work and build a career in post-Brexit Britain.’



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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 20 August 2018
Updated: 20 August 2018

Establishing the ‘real’ causes of long-term sickness absence and its contribution to lost working time

Exclusive joint research from The At Work Partnership and the Work Foundation provides concrete evidence that the reason someone takes long-term sickness absence and remains off sick, isn’t just down to the diagnosis given on the fit note or sick certificate.

This biopsychosocial survey of long-term sickness absence, published in the journal Occupational Health at Work, demonstrates that while the initial diagnosis is relevant in triggering the initial absence other factors are often involved. For example ‘comorbid’ conditions – where an employee has a second health condition, such as depression, in addition to their main diagnosis, are important factors in triggering and prolonging absences. Importantly, ‘psychosocial’ factors – such as the employee believing their ill health is caused or made worse by work, poor support from the manager and disciplinary issues – are also important in triggering and prolonging the absence.

 The survey also shows that around 3.2% of working time is lost to sickness absence in respondents’ organisations (which were generally large employers in both the private and public sectors) – equivalent to 7.3 days per employee a year. Just under half (46%) of total lost working time due to sickness absence is from absences lasting 20 working days or more.

Stress and mental health were the most common reasons for long-term sickness absence referrals to occupational health, followed by combined musculoskeletal and stress/mental health conditions. Musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain were the third most common reason for long-term sickness absence referrals to OH.  

Only one-quarter of employees currently on long-term sick leave (at the time of the survey) had been absent with the same condition before.

Most long-term absences tended to resolve after two or three months; however, many respondents reported cases lasting 12 months or more. One respondent revealed that an employee had been off sick for eight years in their organisation.

Report co-author Dr John Ballard said: ‘The findings reported in our exclusive survey confirm that the causes of long-term sickness absence can be complex and that multiple medical and psychosocial issues need to be considered in its management.’


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National Apprenticeship Week

Posted By Seetec, 16 March 2018

Apprentices gain a view from the top

Two apprentices working for major Essex-based employers swapped jobs with the boss for a day to gain an insight into management roles.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, which ran from 5 to 9 March, the job swaps shined a light on the benefits apprenticeships bring to individuals and employers.

Recruitment consultant apprentice Laura Turner, 26, helps employment and skills organisation Seetec to recruit apprentices, and works with employers to match them to available opportunities. She swapped with Seetec Managing Director John Baumback, who joined the organisation as a 16-year-old apprentice and has worked his way up to running the multi-million pound business, which now employs 1,200 staff.

During their job swap on Tuesday 6 March, they visited Southend United Football Club, where Digital Marketing apprentice Callum Bishop, swapped with his boss, Head of Commercial Rhys Ellingham.

Southend West MP Sir David Amess also attended the football club to mark the occasion and talk with the apprentices about their experience.

Laura, from Leigh-on-Sea, said: “I have only recently started the apprenticeship but I hope it will help me to improve my negotiation skills for managing clients, and help with my personal development. My goal is to progress within the company to a team leader position.

“The job swap helped me to learn leadership skills, and about building a management team and delegating responsibility to other staff members.”

John Baumback explained: “I wouldn’t be where I am now if I wasn’t given the opportunity and believed in. There are plenty of young people out there that, given the chance, will be tomorrow’s leaders.

 “When you take on an apprentice, you mould them to the culture and ethos of your organisation. You can watch them growing in front of your eyes. Young people make such a difference to the outlook of your business – they understand how to relate and engage with younger audiences, and they have the enthusiasm and new ideas.”

At Southend United, lifelong Blues fan Callum, 18, from Leigh-on-Sea, said: “It’s a dream come true to come to work for the club. It didn’t seem real at first, and it’s different from what I expected. I didn’t realise how much planning goes into everything.

“I’ve learned a lot about writing creatively, and about organising things. I’ve also improved my video skills, but most of all I’ve learnt about being professional. I’m working to improve my skills as I hope to get a job here at the end of my apprenticeship.”

Rhys Ellingham said: “Callum was the perfect candidate for the role, giving himself the opportunity to further enhance his digital skills and gain qualifications whilst also helping the commercial department move forward and increase revenue with his social media, website and video input.”

As part of their Job Swap day John Baumback and Laura Turner also visited Greensward School in Hockley to speak to students about the opportunities apprenticeships offer.

Laura explained: “I would encourage any young person to apply for an apprenticeship, you can learn new skills and start your career on the job, as well as earn an income. You also gain confidence, professionalism, and team building skills.  It opens a lot of opportunities within the workplace for a future career.”

To demonstrate the value of apprenticeships, Seetec encouraged other employers to take part in the National Apprenticeship Week Job Swap.




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Employing Disabled Talent

Posted By Heather Ette, 07 March 2018

Channel 4 Introduces TV Sector Guide on Employing Disabled Talent

Channel 4 has produced a pioneering guide to employing disabled people which has been specially tailored for the TV industry.

The guide offers companies in the broadcast sector a range of practical advice on employing disabled people including how to find disabled talent, how to make a company more attractive to disabled people and ways to offer support to disabled employees.

The guide explains basic information such as what is meant by ‘disability’, guidance around language and some simple do’s and don’t’s and also offers focussed advice on how an employer might make adjustments for specific conditions such as hearing impairments, mental health conditions or dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Employing Disabled Talent – a guide for the TV sector was commissioned by Channel 4’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and Board Diversity Champion Dan Brooke who said: “The representation of disabled people in our industry is still woefully low.

“We want to help people in the TV sector; we want to help our suppliers and partners understand the value to be had in employing disabled people and give them practical guidance to help them feel more confident in doing so.”

Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE, a Channel 4 non-executive director, welcomed the initiative saying: “I’m delighted Channel 4 has commissioned this guide that provides a one-stop-shop of advice and guidance on employing disabled people in the broadcast industry.

“We all have a role to play in addressing the terrible fact that talent is everywhere whilst opportunity, currently, is not. Let’s change that.”

As well as offering practical advice on finding, hiring and retaining disabled talent, the guide also explains why businesses should want to hire disabled talent. These include reasons such as having a diverse workforce helping to drive creativity and innovation and the fact that disabled people are often creative thinkers and natural problem solvers because of the challenges they face every day.

Channel 4 will be sharing the guide with independent production companies and other partners in the industry over the next few months and make it available on its corporate site here (opens in a new window)


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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 01 March 2018

APPG Report : those furthest from the labour market

by Youth Employment UK

Late last year the All Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment launched an inquiry into best practice that helps young people furthest from the labour market into employment.

The inquiry received 15 submissions and heard evidence from Mark Pike of Develop EBP, Leanora Volpe of Leonard Cheshire and culminated in young people posing questions to Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships.

We are delighted to be able to make the report available today, with a short and full version available to download

Click here to download the short version of the report

Click here to download the long version of the report


The APPG for Youth Employment has found that:

  • too many young people still face barriers to employment
  • there is also a concerning number of young people ‘hidden’ from the official statistics. These are young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) and not claiming welfare support.
  • new policy and funding models can create perverse implications for social mobility
  • young people furthest from the labour market face a number of barriers meaning it can be a struggle to complete programmes with pre-determined markers for achievements


Based on the evidence heard at the meetings and put forward through the written submissions the APPG for Youth Employment is making the following recommendations to government:

  • Ensure that all young people in education have access to work experience. Information, advice and guidance must be both aspirational and practical and include helping with the 'soft' skills that are so important to securing employment.
  • Ensure that all young people have adequate mental health support and that early intervention models are in place. Young people must be taught how to develop resilience and take care of themselves.
  • A one-size fits all approach does not work. Education, employment and welfare services must begin to recognise the unique potential of each young person and that what works for one does not necessarily work for all.
  • Investment must be put into identifying young people NEET and hidden at a local level. Services and support for these individuals must be holistic, whilst understanding that vital youth services are at risk from funding challenges.
  • Include young people and experienced organisations in the design of national and local approaches to youth employment.
  • Provide financial and information support for employers to work with young people who are furthest from the labour market including better information on Access to Work, recognition of the national employer kite mark – the Talent Match Mark could support this.
  • Better coordination of responsibilities and services across government departments that support young people. This includes the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Health and Ministry of Justice.

"We are an aspirational nation, and this is highlighted most by the energy and vigour of our young people. Their drive and potential is huge. They rightly want the opportunity to build a brighter future and it is our job as Parliamentarians to enable them to fulfil that promise. This is why we must redouble our efforts to eradicate long term youth unemployment and give young people the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career and build a better future for themselves and their families". APPG Chair Michael Tomlinson MP

For further information about the report and the APPG for Youth Employment please contact Youth Employment UK the Secretariat for the APPG for Youth Employment. or email

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The EP Blog

Posted By Faye Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at Kennedy Scott, 24 February 2018

Developing positive change through the ‘Circle of Support’

By Faye Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at Kennedy Scott

Everyone has their own interests and strengths and their own set of skills to contribute to society. This belief is at the core of everything we do at Kennedy Scott, an organisation founded 28 years ago by Teresa Scott OBE.

Our mission is, and has always been, to support those with the most complex barriers to work to find great jobs and build successful careers. We are strong advocates of diversity within employment and believe that people combatting mental health issues, or living with disabilities such as autism, should have the same opportunities as everyone else to find an enjoyable job.

Kennedy Scott staff have a wealth of experience in dealing with candidates that are marginalised by society, something that has been refined and developed into our ‘Circle of Support’ initiative. Our innovative approach has even been credited as an industry exemplar and resulted in us being finalists for the ERSA Disability and Health Provider of the Year award last year.

Initially, the ‘Circle of Support’ approach was developed over years of ESF provision for hardest to help customers for which we were cited by Ofsted as an example of Best Practice. More recently the model evolved into our Work Choice Provision, but over the last two years it has been refined into our National DWP Specialist Employability Support (SES) Prime contract.

The rationale behind the ‘Circle of Support’ is that to adequately support customers with barriers to work, it is vital to include all key stakeholders in a customer’s journey to employment; the candidate, caseworker, the Employer Account Manager (EAM), the activity coordinator, the employer, and of course friends and family.

Before a ‘Circle of Support’ meeting is assembled, we offer clients a holistic and comprehensive bio psychosocial model to identify all barriers, aspirations, strengths and relevant support networks. The ‘Circle of Support’ meets a minimum of once a month, either in person, on teleconferences or through bilateral discussions.  This approach allows candidates to benefit from a shared vision and shared responsibilities for progression whilst offering a sustainable network of support. The approach is multidisciplinary and personalized to each individual and offers an efficient approach to resourcing.

In this way, the ‘Circle of Support’ naturally responds to the contours of local demographics and needs, as we are able to include those community organisations which reflect the people they serve.

Take our candidate Callum, who is based in Amble, Northumberland. Callum, who has Asperger’s syndrome, joined Kennedy Scott’s DWP/European Social Funded Specialist Employment Support programme in July 2016.  We assigned him a dedicated caseworker who utilised the ‘Circle of Support’ model, working not only with Callum and his family but also in tandem with the leader of his community support group.

Callum’s caseworker assisted him with personal development and work readiness through a number of different activities, including an exploration of job goals and the local job market, and arranging relevant training courses.

After deducing that Callum had a passion for castles and history, we supported him to apply for a position as a Food and Beverage Assistant at Alnwick castle. To Callum’s delight and after intensive interview preparation, he was offered the position. Callum, who struggled with confidence and self-esteem issues, had never had a paid job before so he was delighted with this achievement.

In the months that followed, Callum’s caseworker set up a schedule of contact with him and his employer, to ensure everything stayed on track. As a result of Callum’s enthusiasm and strong work ethic he was even offered the chance to be involved in history tours for the castle after just six months at Alnwick. Callum is still employed at Alnwick and I know he will prosper in his future career.

As Callum’s success shows, Kennedy Scott is successfully working towards our shared goal of improving employability access for all, through initiatives such as the ‘Circle of Support’. We have historic and current strong rates of performance and are dedicated to delivering the best possible service to those we seek to help. Consequently, we have performed consistently in terms of job outcomes and are performing 131% against target since January 2016.

With this success rate in the past couple of years and in light of our founder, Teresa Scott’s dedication and commitment to the cause and her recent OBE New Year’s honour, we very much look forward to developing and expanding our ‘Circle of Support’ model to help and support even more people into sustainable jobs in 2018, whatever their challenge or barriers to work. 

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