Throughout November, we may have been facing a second national lockdown, but we have not stopped our work with women leaving the criminal justice system, to help build their confidence and develop their employability.
Every woman we work with has her own story, talents, aspirations and challenges. That’s why when a woman first comes to us, our employability team takes the time to listen and find out what her goals are and how we can help her achieve them. This November, we met with 22 new women and together, designed personal support plans for each woman’s journey through our service and beyond.
We’ve identified the key areas that women who use our service need support in to help them prepare for employment: confidence building, disclosing your conviction, CV writing, interview skills, communication in the workplace and problem solving and time management. Over the course of November, our employability team ran seven group workshops addressing each of these areas plus our monthly wellbeing workshop. November’s theme was ‘Winter Wellness’ and we focused on looking after yourself and your wellbeing during the winter months. In addition to our workshops, we provided 37 hours of specialist one-to-one support to women who felt they needed that little bit of extra help.
A few weeks ago, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that unemployment in the UK is predicted to rise to 2.6 million by mid-2021. We know that this will disproportionately disadvantage women with convictions who are already discriminated against by many employers. Unfortunately, we’re already seeing the effects of rising unemployment on women with convictions as a direct result of Covid-19. Many women we’ve supported into work in the past have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, and are now returning to our services for further support.
Despite this challenging economic climate, our recruitment team are working hard to make sure women who feel ready and confident to look for work have the support they need to find the right job for them. In November, we supported five women into paid employment across the charity, housing and public sectors. We also helped one woman secure a voluntary peer mentor role at a domestic violence charity, a vital stepping stone in helping her build and develop her chosen career as a frontline support worker.
Our support means so much more to women than simply finding them a job. Here, Joanne explains what working with her consultant has meant for her:
"You have given me confidence again, pushed me when I needed it, and every suggestion you have made has worked well! Maybe you, and the rest of the staff at Working Chance, will never know how much you touch people's lives in such a positive way when we need it the most.’"