Igniting opportunities for a brighter future

23 SEP 2020

A £2,500 grant from Allchurches Trust is supporting the expansion of a charity, which is helping the poorest communities into employment.

“Employment has fallen by the biggest amount in a decade” (BBC 11.08.2020). With millions of workers still on the furlough scheme and many facing financial uncertainty, the Jericho Foundation is a social enterprise keen to support the most vulnerable – young people, older workers and those less skilled.
 
Jericho has been supporting disadvantaged people to undertake training, secure employment and overcome social exclusion since 1993, working in all areas of Birmingham, but focusing particularly on the struggling communities where unemployment is four times the national average.
 
Ignition launched in 2014, operating 18 programmes across the city. Training gives passionate volunteers from local churches the tools to provide disadvantaged and unemployed people with the knowledge, skills and practical support they need to get their foot in the door and secure a stable job. So far, Ignition has provided over 2,000 local people with the skills they need to get to this point and has also helped to bring people together and build strong relationships in and across communities – delivered by enthusiastic church volunteers who live and work alongside those they are seeking to help.
 
Funding from Allchurches has given the charity the means they need to cover the cost of course materials, which will enable the project to expand and form new Ignition programmes and job clubs in the West Midlands area.
A slow burner…
 
As COVID hit, the Ignition project was left in the dark for a few months, with face-to-face support no longer possible.  The effectiveness of the programme has been based on human interaction and local people coming together, so the charity felt it was best to take stock and explore new ways of working, so that they can come back better and more resilient ready for Autumn 2020.
 
Katie Webb, Deputy CEO for Jericho Foundation, said: “Our plans for growth remain and we need to adapt our services to support the growing numbers of people who will need assistance to enter or re-enter the workforce in an increasingly competitive job market. People struggling prior to the pandemic are now at serious risk of being lost further in a tsunami of unemployment and access to local support will be crucial.”
 
The charity is working hard on future proofing Ignition so that they can ensure they are available to provide vital support to the most vulnerable no matter the external environment. This will involve adapting the model for online delivery; producing online training collateral; pulling together a workbook and coaching guide for use in telephone support and future courses; and working with partners as additional strands to existing community outreach.
 
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, said: “Ignition will be a fantastic resource for many people in the West Midlands who are struggling with employment in the aftermath of COVID. We’re delighted to support Jericho, who will equip church communities to deliver vital employment advice and support to those who need it most.”
People sit at computers at the Jericho Foundation Job Club
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