Serco’s Employment, Skills and Enterprise business is celebrating after one of their Work Programme subcontractors, Inspire 2 Independence (i2i), won the Partner of the Year Award in the prestigious Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Employability Awards 2016.
The award was announced at a special ceremony in London hosted by ITV news presenter Lucrezia Millarini and attended by new Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt MP.
The Employability Awards, now in their fourth year, showcase and champion best practice from across the employment support sector, celebrating the hard work and achievements of those involved in supporting people into work. The Partner of the Year Award recognises excellence as a subcontractor in the field of employment-related services.
Serco delivers the Work Programme in the West Midlands and South Yorkshire on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, through a network of subcontractors. Since 2011 i2i has been delivering the Work Programme as a subcontractor to Serco in Coventry, Staffordshire and Stoke. i2i delivers a fully integrated employment and skills service, which specialises in helping people back to work and providing employers with recruitment solutions and staff training. The customer support includes anything from one-to-one advice and guidance on CV building, job search and interview techniques, to group work on confidence building, mentoring peer-support and into-work support. For customers with more complex needs i2i provide an Occupational Health Team which provides integrated health and wellbeing support. Regular employment fairs and support fairs bring together employers and local charities and support agencies; making customers aware of the wealth of opportunities and support available.
The two companies have forged an excellent working relationship, which has resulted in over 3,700 people across the West Midlands being helped into work. i2i has built up a formidable reputation for being an innovative and forward-thinking provider, which has contributed to a rise in the company’s performance.
Gareth Moss, interim Director for Employment, Skills and Enterprise, said: "We are delighted that our nomination for i2i has been successful and they have won the Partner of the Year Award. i2i’s work with customers facing complex health conditions and disabilities is often described as ‘trailblazing’ thanks to their creative deployment of resources to support them to move into sustainable work."Read more
Natalie Keating, i2i's Group Managing Director, said: "The awards recognise excellence throughout the Welfare to Work sector. We were up against over 180 nominations, shortlisted to four finalists by a panel of key leaders from DWP and National Policy office. Without all the hard work and commitment of our staff to the amazing industry we work in we would not have won this prestigious award. Diane and I were extremely shocked and proud to receive this award on behalf of i2i. The level of congratulations and applause on the night from hundreds of people was extremely humbling."
Serco has also sponsored the Lifetime Achievement Award for the second year, which Gareth presented on behalf of Serco during the ceremony.
More details on the awards and winning entries on ERSA's website.
Simon Astbury joined the Work Programme with Serco after a routine hernia operation led to him catching septicaemia, which left him fighting for his life.
After losing his job and his home, Simon had to depend on health-related benefits and was referred to i2i Cannock where he completed an Adult Health & Social Care course; reigniting his interest in mental health.
With this qualification under his belt, Simon approached Making Space at an i2i Support Fair, and after a successful interview he secured the role of Mental Health Employment Adviser.
Simon said: “It’s been a long journey, but I’m so happy. The job is not too dissimilar to what i2i do; I’m dealing with people who have light to moderate mental health needs, such as depression. The work is really rewarding; I get the chance to make a difference to people’s lives, drawing from my own experiences in life.
“My advice to other Work Programme customers is to focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do and allow the advisers to work with you and be a part of the journey. Sometimes you do trip and fall, but you get back up stronger and you learn from it, and then you do get the outcome that you want.”