Out of the dark and into the light

Strong, sustainable and attractive communities are about much more than buildings. Just as important is improving the lives of the people who live in them. That means not only education and health services, but opening up employment opportunities for tenants and the wider community as well. It’s to meet that need that Prentis Solutions launched a training initiative called Worklessness Programme. The concept is to work closely with housing organisations that want to develop the skills base of tenants, and others looking for work, giving them the chance to have a worthwhile job rather than simply existing on benefits. The Programme provides students with genuine and valuable training courses to equip them with the key knowledge, skills and understanding which will enable them to take up paid or voluntary positions within housing and related organisations. Many people who are currently unemployed could well find work with the right training and support. A career with prospects and clear development helps to encourage self-respect and increase the overall standard of living to which so many people aspire.

Boosting self-esteem

Hounslow Homes is an ALMO which manages 16,500 homes in West London. Hounslow was looking for temporary staff and took on six people from Prentis Solutions who had passed through the first stage of their training as a solution to their needs. The trainees were hired at the rate of £150 per week for a total of 100 hours and then went onto paid contracts. They worked within the rents team, following up on tenants who were in arrears.

“They were a really fantastic bunch,” says Jill Gale, Hounslow Homes’ Director of Housing. “They were prepared to work out of office hours, making telephone calls in the evening. They were just so keen and willing, and have helped the team to work on improving performance. Following the training they had, we were very pleased by the quality of their work. We would now like to offer this opportunity to our own tenants to go on the Prentis course as part of the initiative to combat worklessness.” 

Jill says that around 60 per cent of Hounslow Homes tenants are generally on some form of housing benefit. It is, therefore, in their interest, and those of housing associations, for tenants to find work which will boost both their incomes and their self-esteem. “Getting tenants interested in training is a double whammy – good for them and good for us. We would like to particularly target the 16 to 25 year olds who are on benefits. This sort of initiative from Prentis Solutions will give a lift to estates and indeed the whole community,” she says.







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