The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone. For community based organisations face to face work is usually the key to delivering a successful project. People who face challenges getting back into work appreciate the resources and support a community centre based project can offer. During the pandemic Community Grants funded projects have had to find other ways of offering the same quality of support.
The Empowering People in Change CIC (EPIC CIC) in West Bromwich was funded £17,954.80 to support 20 people move closer to the job market. They specialise in supporting people from Eastern and Central European Countries to access courses that will help them into work. Ruth Burgess (Community Grant Manager) caught up with Project Worker Jelena and project participant Teresa to see how EPIC have managed to keep their “Upskilling Project” running during Covid 19.
What has been the biggest challenge of running an employment support project during this time?
Jelena: The biggest challenge was that we could not see our participants face to face. This has made us and our participants stronger because we have taught them how to access our project online. Many of our participants started with basic English and we have been able to support them in gaining a recognise qualification.
What difference has EPIC CIC been able to make to the people you have supported?
Jelena: We have been able to help participants to improve their English and Maths, which will help to secure employment in the future. Some of the participants have been able to complete Level 2 health and food hygiene certificate as well and one participant has gone into work.
Our participants have also grown in confidence by taking part in group tasks which tested their organisation skills and speaking in front of other groups. They have had the chance to meet new people and improve their confidence and support network. This has been essential during a time where people are feeling very isolated.
Teresa why did you decide to take part in the EPIC CIC Upskilling Project?
Teresa: I wanted to improve my English and Maths to better my chances of getting a job. The ICT workshops helped to understand how to be safe online and access online courses. It was great to connect with other people on the same course. I realised I was not the only one that needed support with day to day life tasks. I came to the UK many years ago and started working straight away in a factory. I worked long hours and didn’t understand my rights of employment. I had to rely on others to help me with tasks like opening a bank account. The EPIC project has given me a voice, Jelena was able to support me in my first language which made a huge difference. I feel more confident now. I can go shopping and make appointments with my doctor. The project has helped me to learn more and gain a recognised UK qualification (Functional Skills English and Maths Entry 1 level). I am so grateful for the support I have had through EPIC.
The Community Grants team are available to offer support to organisations interested in making an application. If you would like to discuss a project in more detail please contact Community Grant Manager Ruth Burgess firstname.lastname@example.org
Funding round dates can be found on the Walsall Council website: ESF Community Grant Funding Round Dates