Employment and skills programme supports St Helens Borough residents into work

Ashley Mitchell from Laffak is a shining example of how the Ways to Work scheme is helping to make a difference to those in St Helens Borough looking for work.

A successful employment and skills programme which looks to secure job and training opportunities for some of the hardest to reach groups of adults in the borough has come in for high praise after helping more than 1,100 local people into work.

The Ways to Work initiative is an employment programme delivered across the Liverpool City Region since 2016, with the St Helens Borough element delivered by St Helens Borough Council.

Ashley Mitchell from Laffak is a shining example of how the scheme is helping to make a difference to those in St Helens Borough looking for work.

Twenty-nine-year-old Ashley was referred to Ways to Work by the Jobcentre after becoming low in confidence following a number of unsuccessful job applications, largely down to gaps in her employment history due to personal reasons.

In March 2019, Ashley started an Intermediate Labour Market scheme (ILM) through Ways to Work which looks to secure local people a 35 hour per week paid employment contract over a 26-week period.

After being guided through a process which Ashley admits would have felt daunting getting through alone, she found a position at local award-winning technology start-up company, DriverNet, which Ashley says has proved fulfilling and a boost to her confidence – having become a valued member of the team there.

“When I came to the Ways to Work programme, I had been applying for tens of jobs each week and receiving little to no response,” said Ashley, whose Data & Operations Coordinator sees her set customers up with DriverNet’s Uber-style app used by buses, coaches, lorries and even bin wagons, to make deliveries and collections smarter and safer.

“I found the Ways to Work programme incredibly helpful, with my work coaches, Claire and Phil, being very supportive – from help with applying to jobs, to assistance with attending interviews, as well as regular check-ins to see how I was getting on.

“I would definitely recommend the programme for anyone looking for work, regardless of what kind of work they’re looking for and what their previous work backgrounds are.

“It can provide big opportunities that might otherwise have been a lot harder to find.”

Praising the ILM scheme, and Ashley for her quick progress, Ant Chisnall, Director at DriverNet, said: “The ILM has been a great support for DriverNet bringing in local talent. In the space of 12 months, Ashley has up skilled to become a valued member of the team, using her graphic design and system skills, which helped in the design and testing of our app which went on to win two innovation awards.

“During Ashely’s six months ILM at DriverNet, we have addressed a number of personal challenges that she faces through life coaching around mental and physical health which I am proud to say she is now overcoming with our guidance. As part of the fix, we have now given her more responsibility to utilise her skills more in a crucial role for the business. I can honestly say in her response she has genuinely inspired me at times.”

A spokesperson for St Helens Borough Council said “As a council we are committed to supporting local people into employment – so it’s great to hear about the fantastic work that has come out of our Ways to Work scheme, and the team are looking to reach out to even more people like Ashley to help them develop new skills and achieve their true potential.”

Ways to Work is designed to improve personal resilience and progress to sustainable employment for people over the age of 16 who are signed up to the programme.

You can register by emailing waystowork@sthelens.gov.uk or call 01744 676131.

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