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Progress2work: February Update

Progress2work is an adult employability project part-funded by the European Social Fund. The programme seeks to support those further from the labour market using new and tried and tested methods.  

February has been a planning-packed month as the progress2work team have been gearing up for a number of exciting events and partnerships. With the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the government’s roadmap being released, we’re starting to see our partners, local community groups, and our own Opportunity Centres opening back up. While the roadmap and plans for returning ‘back to normal’ are promising, the progress2work team have done a great job adapting and working with the restrictions to make sure we can deliver our services and make new partnerships within the current limitations.

February has also brought a rebrand for Aspire-igen, which will now be trading as The Opportunity Centre! As a career, training and employability company with a vision of changing lives for the better through learning and work, we hope that you will agree that this name better reflects us as an organisation. Over the next few weeks you will see changes to reflect our new name, such as updates to signage in our premises.
This has also brought the opportunity for progress2work to update the graphics we use to promote the project on social media! We have a new package of six different graphics, all covering different areas of support the project can provide. Keep your eyes peeled on our social media accounts for these!

Our partnership with Job Centre Plus in Bradford has shown that there is a gap in services for over 50s, and helping these individuals getting into work. To help fill the gap in provision in the Bradford District, we have developed a package of services tailored to those over 50 who may be looking to get back into work, or closer to the labour market. We kicked off the Over 50s programme with some induction and taster sessions with various members of our team. So far we have had 16 referrals from Job Centres in Bradford, with good feedback from guests. We have extended this offer of support in Kirklees and Leeds, if there is a need for this provision.
If you or someone you know could benefit from this package please contact the team using the details below and find out how we can help.

We have been planning our renewed Tea and Talk sessions, with the aim of launching the face-to-face events as soon as we can, government restrictions permitting. The team have developed a process for supporting guest speakers, which covers content guidance, event information and marketing for each session. The Tea and Talk sessions are set to include a wide range of topics – from mental and physical health and finance workshops, to crafting!
We are currently looking for guest speakers to run sessions – contact us at to register your interest and find out more about how you can get involved.

The taster session planning continued this month with a joint event with NAFS for International Women’s Day on 8th March. We’re offering a zoom session with information about both programmes and the support we can offer to individuals. The session will feature testimonials from existing clients, information about the programmes, and interactive activities for guests to get involved. Get in touch to access the zoom call on Monday!

Progress2work and Bradford Employment Hub are coming together to host an event for Careers Live at the start of March! Our event will discuss how we can work with schools and/or colleges to support the parents and carers who might need their own careers support. We know times have been difficult with parents dedicating their time to home-schooling children, we hope to find out and talk about the support they might need with their own wellbeing and employment prospects. Use the link here to register interest and get the link for the Teams call: join us for an introduction to how progress2work can help, offering local volunteering opportunities, therapeutic activities, employment training, goal setting, living and working in a pandemic, and much much more.

We’ve had meetings this month with some really exciting initiatives and organisations which we hope can contribute to our project, as well as helping our local communities more widely. The Grandmentors scheme in Bradford is an interesting programme aiming to match young care leavers with an older mentor. Grandmentors provide a vital link for young people as they navigate life after care. They are hoping to recruit volunteers of all ages, and in particular those aged 50+, to form positive relationships and support mentees to unlock their own skills and to shape their own futures. It will be great to see how our projects can link up and support both of our aims.
Smart Works is another great partnership made this month, as they hope to open their Leeds centre back up with the easing of lockdown restrictions. Smart Works supports women throughout their journey to employment – offering interview coaching and high-quality interview clothing (amongst additional services) to give the women the tools and confidence to gain employment. Our meeting brought up some promising opportunities to work together and we’re excited to have already referred one of our clients to the charity for their specialised interview support.

Another great opportunity we have found for our clients has been through a meeting with Bradford Council Galleries and Museums. They are currently recruiting volunteers for local Bradford attraction areas – beginning with Cartwright Hall Art Gallery (close to our areas of operation in Bradford!). With the aim of promoting diversity and intergenerational working, the values being encouraged fit very nicely with our own at progress2work, so we’re looking forward to offering the volunteering opportunities to our clients.

As you can see, February has been full of Teams calls and zoom meetings, and lots and lots of planning! It’s been exciting getting into the swing of the New Year, and we’re looking forward to March. We’re hoping to have many more events to plan and host in the future, so watch this space to find out about the next sessions, workshops, and talks offered by the progress2work team.

Click here to go to our project page to find out more and contact us.

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