Giving homeless people the confidence to thrive at work

Finding and sustaining employment can be a daunting prospect for homeless people. Pearn Kandola is working with Business Action on Homelessness (BAOH) to help people on its Ready for Work programme to build the emotional resilience needed to settle in and thrive in the workplace.

BAOH is a national campaign run by the charity Business in the Community. Through its Ready for Work programme, BAOH equips homeless people, or those at risk of homelessness, with the confidence and skills to re-enter the job market. The initiative, which operates in partnership with local businesses, hostels and other agencies, delivers pre-employment training, work placement opportunities and follow-on support.

According to BAOH’s research, emotional resilience is a big factor in whether or not Ready for Work graduates settle in to their roles and stay in work. The study looked at the barriers that homeless people face in finding and keeping jobs. It found that while financial stability is critical, being able to adapt and react positively when things go wrong is also important. However, agencies and employers don’t always focus sufficiently on developing this kind of resilience.

“People attending the Ready for Work programme have often been out of work for more than a year. Many will have low self-esteem, and most will have had to overcome several other hurdles, including mental health problems, or drug or alcohol addiction. As a result, they may not have developed adequate mechanisms to cope with setbacks,” explains BAOH’s Rebecca Ford.

As emotional resilience is something that can be learned, BAOH teamed up with Pearn Kandola to produce a unique range of resources to promote this behaviour in the workplace. A special workshop run at the launch event helped job coaches and employers to get to grip with the tools.

The resources include bespoke training sessions and a ‘Positive Thinking Handbook’, to help people develop strategies to cope with new and difficult situations, as well as practical guidance for companies and individuals on things to look out for when starting work.

Our Head of Well-Being, Binna Kandola comments: “Developing training materials for people who are different to our usual client groups was a challenge. We had to think carefully about making the information itself accessible, but also about how it would be best delivered. For example, we found that many BAOH clients have varying degrees of literacy and some may not be used to sitting down and concentrating for extended periods. So we needed to ensure that the language we used was appropriate and that we scheduled in plenty of breaks as well as enough food.

“Initial feedback from the agencies involved is very encouraging: they consider resources like these have been the missing piece in the jigsaw. Now we’ll be carrying out an evaluation to see what improvements we can make, as well as looking at other ways we can get involved in the BAOH campaign.”

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