Breaking down the barriers to employment leads to new qualifications

When Rhiannon Rimmer, 22, signed up for a Moving On, Moving In (MOMI) course with Aspire Housing, little did she know the impact it would have on her family. Rhiannon and her partner Matt Richardson, 24, couldn’t afford the rent in their private property, so they applied for social housing with Aspire and Rhiannon got onto the MOMI course which prepares tenants for their move. It was during a session at the course in September 2011 that she met employment and skills advisor Kay Fryer who helped her to write a CV.

“I told Kay that Matt had been self-employed in building maintenance but due to the recession, work started to die out.”

Kay met Matt and found the main problem was with Matt’s electrical qualifications being out of date and he couldn’t afford the refresher training.

Kay successfully applied for a bursary of £280 for Matt to receive training. Matt is now working at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire as an electrician.

“Through Aspire we were able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve now moved into an Aspire home in Poolfields, I have full time work, and Rhiannon can afford to look after daughter Lizzie at home.”

Work experience opens the door to an apprenticeship

Young people across PM Training’s sites have gone on to find full time employment following their apprenticeships. Take Alice Reynolds, who wanted to gain both work experience as well as a qualification at PM Training’s Shelton centre. “The only thing I’d done before was waitressing,” said Alice, “so this was a new world for me. Within a fortnight of my interview I found myself on the PM programme, aiming to do an apprenticeship in business administration.”

Alice impressed the tutors and was soon offered work experience at George Birchall Services Ltd. Alice did so well at Birchall’s that she never left. After completing her two-year apprenticeship within 15 months, she was offered a full time position as assistant administrator. UK Service Director Chris Windass said: “Thanks to our partnership with PM Training, Alice has proved to be a great asset to the company.”

Tips and advice about CV writing leads to new job

Aspire Housing customer Gareth Hawkins, 45, had enjoyed working for 28 years, first as a machine setter, then in maintenance, so it was a real shock when he was made redundant. “It was very daunting,” said Gareth, who lives in Newcastle. “I had been so used to working, then all of a sudden I wasn’t wanted any more.” He was referred to Kay Fryer, an employment and skills advisor.

While looking for a job Gareth visited Poolfields employment project. “I hadn’t written a CV in 28 years, but Kay gave me lots of advice and soon got me back on track.” After a course, Gareth was offered a job as a warehouse operative. Gareth encourages anyone looking for work to never give up.

“There is help out there – never be afraid to ask – Aspire Housing will help you get a job.”

A Fairy Job Mother project in Staffordshire has come to the rescue of a young mum whose lack of confidence was holding her back.

Aspire Housing customer Michelle Pickthorne, aged 29, is one of 12 people helped by a year-long employability project.

The scheme run by Aspire Housing between September 2014 and August 2015, was funded by Building Resilient Families and Communities (BRFC) and commissioned by the Greater Chesterton LAP.
It provided bespoke, intensive support to help customers identifying work-related goals, barriers to work, skills gaps and realistic ambitions.
Fairy Job Mother, Kay Fryer, Senior Employment and Skills Advisor at Aspire Housing, said: “Michelle has a hearing impairment and was severely bullied throughout school, leaving her low in confidence and with low self-esteem but she wanted to become a classroom assistant.
“In January 2015, she was referred to the Fairy Job Mother project and I helped her to go on a five-week assertiveness workshop to develop her communication skills and confidence levels.”


Kay Fryer then enrolled Michelle onto an ‘Early Years’ Level 3 course at college, and organised volunteering hours in a primary school.
But due to changes in regulation, anyone wanting to take a Level 3 course must have grade C or above in GCSE maths and English, which Michelle did not have. To resolve this, Kay found day classes at Stoke-on-Trent College in GCSEs, arranged childcare and helped Michelle successfully apply for a Realise Foundation bursary for a laptop and IT package. The Fairy Job Mother project has delivered a clear, step-by-step action plan for Michelle’s future ambitions and she can see how to get where she wants to be.
Michelle said: “Thank you to Kay, she’s really supported me and she’s given me a chance to do something with my life. It’s going to benefit my kids in the long run and that’s what matters most.”
The project helped four people into work, one into further education and one into the work programme. The remaining six are still being supported by the employment and skills team at Aspire Housing as they seek employment.