DWP & Merseyrail

DWP & Merseyrail

Aspiring Instructors: Changing Lives Through Opportunity

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

Aspiring Instructors, a unique employment training programme, is delivered through a partnership between Sefton Council, the Department for Work and Pensions and Merseyrail. The 16-week course uses mentoring as a tool to increase participants self-confidence, motivation and personal development, whilst gaining a range of sports qualifications to enhance employability. A bespoke approach is used to deliver a holistic support programme, which has proven to have a life changing impact.

A unique feature of the programme is that the partnership sees organisations working together that do not traditionally overlap due to such varied remits. 2019’s new partnerships with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Merseyrail had a significant impact and enabled barriers to be removed. Merseyrail train passes provided free travel throughout the programme, enabling participants to attend all training and mentoring sessions across Sefton, as well as the flexibility to access extra shadowing sessions and wider opportunities whilst removing the barrier of cost. DWP’s contribution included £20,000 funding, and individual support for participants in receipt of benefits, ranging from funding for sports clothing to childcare costs.

What are the key achievements?

The course is bespoke, supporting participants who are furthest from the labour market, e.g. individuals returning to work after children and those with health conditions that are a self-perceived barrier to employment. Participants work towards accredited qualifications (lifeguarding, gym instructor or water sports), supported by mentors and professionals in the specific industries. The reactive nature of the programme means that it is constantly evolving, which is met with positivity by partners.

Key outcomes for 2018-19:
• 74% of participants securing employment within the Council’s leisure centres and other local employment.
• 120 qualifications gained.
• All participants reported increases in confidence, feeling valued and having a purpose.
• Improved interpersonal and communication skills were demonstrated from the interviews pre-and post-programme.
• Positive impacts on health and well-being (physical and mental), supported by the provision of gym, swimming pool and lake access.
• Reduction in benefit claimants’ due to participants gaining employment, a real positive outcome as the claiming count for Sefton is 3.8% (rising to 6.1% in the Bootle area), 0.6% higher than the national average

What are the key learning points?

The partnerships have strengthened the support for individuals particularly around the benefits agenda. DWP have provided support and troubleshooting to minimise challenges faced by individuals at a time when some are feeling their most vulnerable. A key challenge to overcome in the development of this year’s project was matching up and delivering on the differing outcomes from each of the partners. Ensuring a monitoring system that encompassed the necessary monitoring for each partner, whilst it being simplified for the participants and not repetitive in the amount of form filling required.

This was in response of feedback from participants on previous programmes who felt job searching required lots of form filling which became a barrier to how the approach had been found to be demoralising and was frustrating to those with low levels of English. The partnership with the Adult Learning service has enabled those with low literacy levels to get further support and identify pathways onto additional qualifications to help their key skills develop. How outcomes and outputs were reported back in the format for each partner organisation has been challenging, but has been overcome by frequent communication and understanding.

Additional Comments:

The reactive nature of the programme means that it is constantly evolving, which is met with positivity by partners. This level of intricacy allows the partnership and therefore project to have a multi-dimensional impact with life changing results, demonstrated by comments from participants such as;
• “I would not have a job if it wasn’t for this course, I really didn’t believe I could achieve what I have. Thank you so much, I have been looking for work for over a year, and it was getting very depressing.”
• “I didn’t believe I could do anything like this before, it really has changed my life! I love being on the water now and love helping others.”

Goals for the future are being explored around an expansion of the programme to increase the number of pathways of qualification available and increase the frequency of the programme as it is currently only delivered once per year due to funding constraints. It is aspired that the new partnership with the DWP will create security in the project to allow dates to be scheduled on an annual basis and a goal to focus on will be the delivery of two courses per year. The project has previously targeted approximately 12 participants but have aspired to increase this to 20 participants this year to widen the impact of the project, if a second course per year can be confirmed the output for participants per year would be targeted at 40.