Ian Enright, Development Worker with developmentplus has just completed the year long Steps to Work project, a free one to one coaching and mentoring programme supporting people into work or training.  This has been very successful.   Thirty seven initial referrals were received with 23 participants actually registering with the project and undertaking work with Ian.  Seven participants are now in work, 10 are undertaking training and 4 are volunteering in their community.

In early 2020, developmentplus successfully bid to undertake the project, which was funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency; Greater Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership, the European Social Fund and was overseen by Bishop Grosseteste University.

Steps to Work follows on from the popular “Step in the Right Direction Project” and is an intensive coaching and mentoring programme that supports individuals furthest from the employment market to address the many barriers preventing them from moving forward before supporting them to access employment, training, or education opportunities. Outcomes of the project are different for every individual, but the aim is to give both practical and emotional support to enable them to achieve their goals.

Ian contacted many established groups across Lincoln such as family centres, local neighbourhood teams, parent groups, the voluntary services centre, and social prescribers.

After attending a training and accreditation course, Ian started to adopt an acceptance and commitment training approach in the one to one coaching with participants.  This is an evidence based approach which helps participants to act in the presence of challenging thoughts and feelings and to use their unique values as an anchor going forward.  The approach helps to normalise many of the challenging thoughts and feelings we all experience whilst also increasing participants resilience and self-confidence.

Areas such as difficult mental health; challenging family relationships; housing issues and difficulties with drugs and alcohol use have been the primary issues preventing people from moving forward and most have struggled with confidence and self-esteem to tackle these issues.  The coaching approach used enables progress to be made in the search for work even whilst these challenges are being unpicked and explored with participants.   This has helped our participants to move forward rather than feeling stuck in a situation where many may have previously thought that no progress could be made until such issues were completely resolved.

Once checks were completed to establish that participants were residents in the UK, they worked with Ian to complete an Independent Learning Record, looking at their previous education and training, previous employment, and their current length of unemployment.  They set short, medium and long term goals and with reasons why.   They also discussed the steps, barriers and support they needed to achieve those goals.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic it was not always possible for Ian to meet up with participants as much as he would have liked but they maintained contact via Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, Zoom, mobile calls and text.  Participation by the person being coached was crucial and began with basic things such as attending sessions on time and wanting to engage.

All of this has been done at a pace that suits the individual.  Some people required just a few sessions to get them on the right track.  One participant stated that he had found the first couple of sessions extremely helpful in terms of his confidence and interview preparation along with discussions on any issues that he might have once he started the new job.  However, this was an exception and most people required support over several months to achieve their goals.  Indeed, for some participants it was not possible for them to access work or training, or they had to put on hold their plans due to a number of factors including difficult mental health.  Nonetheless, the work they have done with Ian will put them in a positive place for when they are ready to move forward.

Some people have also been referred on to other projects supported by developmentplus such as The Pitch, a men’s suicide prevention group, and an art group held at Boultham.  Although not everyone who initially joined the course has moved into work or training, almost everybody seems to have benefited from the work that they have undertaken with Ian, and to have made some progress going forward.

The project was a great success, supporting more people than anticipated into work, training, or volunteering.  This is particularly impressive given the difficulties of engaging people during a pandemic and is testament to the way that developmentplus and clients has adapted to new ways of working together.  To recognise this Ian is currently organising a Zoom event for the participants to celebrate their personal achievements and those of the project.

Find out more about our one to one coaching and mentoring projects working with individuals with poor mental health, ex-offenders and individuals furthest from the employment market, by browsing our current projects pages.