What is the project?
It provides opportunities for tenants to volunteer alongside qualified, experienced and supportive staff to gain valuable work experience and boost their skills.
Tenants are able to take the first step towards employment through volunteering with Creating Enterprise and Cartrefi Conwy in a work stream suitable to their needs. Whilst volunteering they will gain both practical and soft skills which will make them more employable.
Once they feel ready to take the next step (if at all) they will be given the opportunity and support to move on to paid employment either with Creating Enterprise or with local organisations.
Creating Enterprise offers paid employment opportunities for tenants for up to one year (once a vacancy becomes available). During the 12 months they will be supported to find employment with local companies or to move on to further education.
Who is the project targeted at?
The project is targeted at unemployed social housing tenants.
It reaches people furthest from the job market, who may have never been employed, have limited skills and experience and will otherwise struggle to get into employment.
Volunteers range from never having a job before to recently been made redundant or have been caring for a relative. Often they are looking for a way to build up skills and confidence to find new employment.
The project reaches communities across Conwy including rural areas that may not have digital access or regular transport. This is via drop in sessions in community centres/libraries or on our Jobs Bus.
Why did the project come about?
After initial consultation with tenants about supporting them into work, 75% of them said that they would volunteer if it improved their chances of gaining employment.
After a successful bid with the National lottery, the project was launched.
The team at Creating Enterprise, who deliver the Stepping Stones project, gained approval from the Senior Management team at Cartrefi Conwy and attended team meetings to establish the number and type of roles available and how the project would be delivered to support tenants.
Once the roles had been established, promotion of the project began to recruit volunteers.
How was this project implemented?
Volunteers are recruited via roadshows, social media, leaflets, website and referrals from Cartrefi Conwy and Creating Enterprise.
Once a participant decides to volunteer they are contacted by a Mentor at Creating Enterprise to discuss their volunteering opportunities and then arrange to meet. If they mutually agree that the project is suitable a Volunteer Agreement is put together and the participant will undertake a trial to see if the volunteer opportunity is suitable.
If this is successful the participant will be offered a volunteering position, agreeing times and days that they will volunteer and which role they will volunteer within. They will be allocated a Work buddy who supports them, day to day in their new role.
The volunteer receives an induction by the Mentor, is issued with PPE and will complete a baseline questionnaire which is designed to track their progress (Outcome Star)
They complete a Personal Development Plan with the Mentor to agree what skills and training they wish to develop/access whilst on the project.
Volunteers meet in small groups once every month to undertake a range of soft skills sessions and employability sessions with the Mentor.
Participants can continue to volunteer for as long as they wish, there is no pressure to look for employment or leave the project.
How was this project funded?
Stepping Stones is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.
Outcomes so far
Since the project started in May 2017
90 volunteers have been recruited – 26 are still engaged
39 progressed in their chosen direction which could be employment, training or volunteering
60 qualifications have been gained
79% of volunteers feel more confident
Over the last year April 2019 – March 2020 the outcomes are:
43 volunteers completed 4000 hours of volunteering
26 gained new qualifications by volunteers
75% of volunteers felt less isolated and more confident after a volunteering for a month or more
11 volunteers gained employment
Creating Enterprise is currently working with volunteers to shape the future of the project to ensure it meets the needs of the volunteers and they continue to gain new skills.
We continually create new roles across the group for volunteers to gain valuable experience
We are also planning a volunteer celebration event as part of National Volunteers Week.