New community project offers step up onto jobs ladder in South Oxhey


Vulnerable and long-term unemployed people will be given a step up onto the jobs ladder thanks to a new community project being launched in South Oxhey.

The new Routes to Employment Programme will be run by ASCEND, a local charity which heads up various initiatives to help people into training and employment, through its Job Club and Dig Deep community allotment.

The project will involve providing training to boost people’s skills and improve their job prospects, offering opportunities for further training, volunteering and employment.

Watford-based housing association Thrive Homes is backing the scheme with a total of £15,000 from its community grants fund, which is also helping to secure the Job Club’s future. A £5,000 grant has gone to the Job Club and £10,000 to the Dig Deep project, to help fund the Routes to Employment Programme.

ASCEND Project Director Christine Wyard said the programme would be a welcome boost to residents in the area.

She said: “ASCEND has already helped more than 8,000 people improve their life chances, confidence and skill levels. In the current difficult economic climate, we are now seeing an average of 800 new clients per year.

“So this new project, along with the support we receive from funders such as Thrive, will help us make even more of a difference to people’s lives and the wider community.

“One of the grants from Thrive is the first to fully fund our Job Club, which is sorely needed in South Oxhey, securing its future for a long while to come.”

At the Dig Deep allotment, Routes to Employment will focus on vulnerable people with learning, physical and mental health issues. It will support them to develop skills and undertake volunteering and work experience in order to progress towards paid employment and a more independent life.

Sessions will be aimed at improving health, wellbeing and self-confidence through practical tasks and training towards recognised qualifications, while teaching team building and negotiation skills.

At ASCEND’s weekly Job Club, based at the charity’s Step Up offices in Oxhey Drive, the programme will provide extra free training to help jobseekers become more employable.

Courses will cover subjects such as food hygiene, first aid at work and training for warehouse, cleaning and building jobs, in addition to ASCEND’s existing literacy, numeracy and IT courses, plus careers advice and support.

Daryl Pereira, Engagement Business Partner at Thrive, said: “Having supported ASCEND’s Dig Deep project since it was set up seven years ago, we are thrilled to provide vital backing to launch the Routes to Employment Programme.

“In line with the aims of our community grants scheme, this new initiative will help transform lives and make a real difference to Thrive residents and our local communities. We look forward to continuing our work with ASCEND to ensure this project has a positive, far-reaching impact.”

Every year, ASCEND supports an average of 50 people to gain paid employment and runs courses which benefit over 250 adult learners.

Martin Richards, who was out of work for 18 years due to a long-term illness, was helped by the Job Club with training courses which have led to him getting a job as a teaching assistant at a special needs school.

He said: “I love my job now but, if it wasn’t for the support of ASCEND, I wouldn’t have known how to take my first step into work. I am so grateful and I would advise anyone to come here for support.”

Thrive Homes has awarded over £300,000 in community grants since 2010 towards various groups and schemes, including Home-Start Watford & Three Rivers family support, Mill End Job Club and Oxhey Woods Conservation Volunteers.