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Accelerate celebrates removing ‘barriers to work’ for 700 people in Coventry and Warwickshire

L-R: Mary Dunleavy (DWP), Sue Ormiston (The Big Lottery), Helen Hunt (Warwickshire County Council), Cllr Kevin Maton, Mandy Bygrave, Cathy Allen and Jonathan Clugston (all Coventry & Warwickshire CDA)

A local National Lottery-funded employment support scheme is celebrating twelve months of success, having helped 700 people in Coventry and Warwickshire tackle major barriers to work and self-employment.

The £3m Accelerate project is part of ‘Building Better Opportunities’ programme, funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.

Over 70 people gathered at the Coventry Rugby Club recently to celebrate the achievements of local people taking part.

Among these achievements were 153 participants reporting an increase in job interviews, 124 individuals undertaking work experience or voluntary roles and nearly 300 previously inactive people now actively searching for work or training opportunities.

There have also been 34 participants with disabilities accessing job roles or setting up their own micro-enterprises.

“When we launched Accelerate last year we were charged with changing the way the area’s most disadvantaged people are supported back into work or how they gain additional skills and training,” explained Mandy Bygrave, who is leading the project on behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire CDA.

“The same mechanisms and initiatives were failing so we decided to rip up the rule book and try something different. The answer was to bring 21 local partners – all offering specialist support and advice – together through one single access point.”

She continued: “We are well ahead of our targets and the celebration event was held to say thank you to staff and partners and to say a massive well done to all the individuals that have taken part and are now in employment or ready to get back into work.”

Councillor Kevin Maton praised the impact of the programme during the two-hour event, which also showcased films and speeches detailing some of the personal stories and achievements of people that have taken part.

All partners – including Groundwork West Midlands, Heart of England Mencap, Coventry Cyrenians and Volunteer Centre Nuneaton and Bedworth – were at the event to help appeal to possible participants.

Accelerate offers people from Coventry and Warwickshire individualised employment advice and support to break through some of the common barriers holding them back.

Each person is assigned a Journey Guide, who is responsible for working with them to design a tailor-made package of support that meets their individual requirements.

The ‘Journey Guide’ will connect them with the training and support they need, bringing in specialist partners along the way, and supporting them to access work experience and skills enhancement, including IT, Literacy, Numeracy and Enterprise training.

Mandy concluded: “We have also enjoyed success in engaging with hard to reach groups, outstripping targets for helping people with disabilities, individuals over 50 years-old and those from an ethnic minority background or deprived wards in the county.”

For further information, please visit www.accelerate.org.uk or follow @AccelerateCW on twitter or facebook.