Foundations for Work…a role for business in the community

A guest blog from Richard McKie at the Create Community Network

Richard McKie from Create Community Network

Some context…

As a housing provider, it is great to see settle recognise and invest in its wider role of building self-supporting communities and promoting the health and wellbeing of all those within it. In a similar vein, we know from our work with settle how the people there are wholly committed to engaging with residents; helping them tackle their daily challenges and supporting them back into their community and, ultimately, employment.

It was against this backdrop and as part of settle’s underlying social purpose that it began an exciting and innovative initiative together with us at the Create Community Network called ‘Foundations 4 Work’. The project is centred around the role of a mentor and offers settle tenants tailored one-to-one support to help them lead more self-sufficient, fulfilling lives and shepherd them as they take those difficult steps back to more regular, permanent employment.

While still early days, much progress has already been made since the project began in earnest back in June 2018. More than 45 tenants have been supported, with a third of those finding their way back to employment. 

It could be you…

Thankfully, most of us currently enjoy the relative stability of employment together with reasonable health and it can be hard to imagine ourselves, for whatever reason, without one or both of these pillars of a normal life.

From this comfortable position, it can be easy for us to think of those on benefits, the long-term unemployed or socially disengaged as a simple drain on the resources of our community. We can see them as non-contributors, with little to offer and without the will or desire to get back on what society sees as the right track.

And hey, this is an understandable viewpoint, especially within a wholly uncertain and challenging environment. However, the hard-nosed fact is…a life like this is just a couple of unexpected steps away from us all…it could be you.

The outlook…

What does this mean? In a nutshell, the realistic prospects open to those individuals genuinely wanting to rejoin us, the fortunate ones, on the sunnier side, are extremely bleak.

A role for the business community…

Like settle, we believe businesses have a wider responsibility to the communities in which they live and operate. But we know from experience this can be challenging. Even with the best of intentions, there is so little room to manoeuvre and so few opportunities to properly engage with people trying to get back into sustainable work.  
It is clearly not that easy. We recognise that offering a place in the first team for someone who hasn’t played for a few years isn’t really a viable option. Even training with the second or third team is still a challenge.

Somehow, though, we need to give them real experience of life back in the working environment without upsetting ‘business as usual’. Obstacles are everywhere and all options seem to incur additional cost but surely, together, we can make a difference?

A way forward…

We believe any sustainable change needs first to be built upon a mutual awareness and then an understanding of the needs, challenges, and constraints on both sides of the line. Once there is understanding, respect can follow and from there, genuine and realistic opportunities can be explored.

With this in mind, we are looking to open a dialogue with the business community and begin developing that awareness and understanding upon which the foundations of change can be built.

What does change look like…?

We recognise there is not a perfect solution here, but we are committed to building a community where everyone is valued and given the opportunity to contribute to the environment in which they live.

Strike a chord…

Does this resonate with you and your business? Would you be interested in joining the dialogue and putting your views and experience into the mix?
We are really keen to engage with as many local businesses as we can to enable us to get a properly informed business perspective. First, please feel free to respond to this article and share your views. Second, we recently hosted a business engagement breakfast meeting. This was attended by several local firms interested to learn more. However, this is just scratching the surface. We know just how many thriving businesses there are in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire – who would say no to a motivated, skilled, loyal new member of the team?

Please contact Richard McKie at the Create Community Network if you would like to learn more about Foundations 4 Work.

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