To mark the beginning of National Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June), our Exchange Recovery College in Barnsley launched its ‘Building Better Opportunities’ programme on Thursday 1 June.
Building Better Opportunities is an employment service for people with physical and mental health conditions, learning disabilities and complex needs. It’s based on a “place then train” approach that’s shown to be twice as effective as traditional approaches.
The focus of the day was to raise awareness of the programme and its potential benefits to volunteers and learners.
The programme is hosted in partnership between The Exchange Recovery College, South Yorkshire Housing Association, Barnsley MBC, Barnsley College and the Department for Works and Pensions.
Over the next two years the Exchange will host two workers employed by South Yorkshire Housing Association and Barnsley College who will carry out the roles of employment and enterprise coach and wellbeing coach.
On the day, keynote speakers gave a spotlight on the role of the wellbeing coach, work and enterprise coach and debt and benefits advisor role. The speakers were well received and the information they gave generated great discussions and healthy debate. By the end of the event, four additional volunteers agreed to sign up the programme.
The workers will provide intensive 1:1 support for volunteers who are ready to take the next step in their development journey. This will build on the progress already made by individual volunteers including achieving accredited qualifications in subjects such as learner support, education and training, and peer mentoring.
The event was well attended by volunteers, learners, staff and representatives from partner organisations. Comments from attendees included:
“Overwhelmed to hear about all the support available. I feel more hopeful and have faith of the support in recovery.”
“Very positive, good to hear that all organisations involved are supportive. Just what’s needed.”
“Very positive – good to hear!”
“Very informative and practical. Good mix of people.”
“Didn’t know about all the help and support that is available, good to know.”
“Very positive and informative, gave better insight into the resources.”
Volunteer development worker Nick Sennitt said: “Volunteering for our Trust has enabled Recovery College volunteers to improve confidence, gain skills and build mental resilience. It’s provided with a stable stepping stone onto employment for four of our volunteers who have this year secured employment after utilising the opportunities that volunteering has to offer. We hope that this new and innovative Building Better Opportunities programme will further enhance volunteer move on into employment.