All posts by annamarie

Award winning social enterprise, Rebike Cumbria Ltd has been granted £9,825 in funding by Cumbria Housing Partners Fund, managed by Cumbria Community Foundation, to expand its successful job mentoring project which supports long-term unemployed into work.

Based in Carlisle, Rebike refurbishes and repairs donated bicycles for sale, providing a work based training environment for trainees and volunteers. Geoffrey Tunstall, Director of Rebike said “Trainees often come to us with issues which makes it difficult for them to compete in the job market. For some a lack of confidence and social skills is a barrier; for others disrupted schooling means they don’t have the formal qualifications employers ask for. Whatever their issue, our only criteria to accepting to is that the trainee wants to participate and improve their employability skills so they can go on into voluntary or paid employment.

Grant doubles support for work placements

Their training includes bicycle maintenance, health and safety, and customer service. Additionally they learn how to work alongside others in a work place; this means the step from Rebike into another working environment is less daunting. By offering supported work placements we can help them get the work experience they need, so they can show an employer just what they are capable of contributing and achieving. This grant will enable us to double the number of work placements we currently support and is a great boost to the project. “

Rebike volunteers Am and Jacob

Pictured here are two of our recent trainees Jacob and Am. Jacob has been a volunteer with Rebike for six years; he has just secured his first paid job and is still volunteering with us. Am is from Laos and has been volunteering with Rebike since early this year, he is planning to set up his own furniture workshop and is learning essential skills for running a business while being with us.

John Clasper, Chair of Cumbria Housing Partners said, “Our community fund is aimed at supporting projects which offer opportunities for people to improve their employability skills. As an established social enterprise, Rebike already has a proven track record of success with volunteer training – re-skilling as it recycles. By adding the work mentoring project as an extension of that training they are now able to give extra support and confidence to trainees as they take their first step into employment, we are pleased to be able to support them.

Annalee Holliday, Grants & Donor Services Officer for Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “The charity sector works closely with people facing disadvantage across the county in many ways and so is ideally positioned to help people back into employment. Rebike has achieved tremendous success over the years and this project aims to get more than 40 people into employment. As a local business, Cumbria Housing Partners is pro-active in funding projects in the county that really make a difference to people’s lives.”

In this short video Frankie O’Keefe, from Cumbria Action for Sustainability, explains why annual Gas Safety Checks are carried out by landlords and why they are vitally important.

Gas safety checks must be carried out by your landlord once a year, it’s the law. It is important you allow the gas engineers into your home to carry out the check, by appointment.

Keeping You Safe

Keeping you, your family and neighbours safe is a prime concern; gas leaks and Carbon Monoxide build up can be fatal. By checking your boiler and other gas appliances are running safely and efficiently your landlord is keeping you safe.

If the engineers find any issues they will fix the problem. You may  find your appliances run more efficiently after the check- that will save you money and it is also be better for the environment too.

Cumbria Housing Partners has produced this video to provide information to tenants of all the partner landlords.

Millom  Network Centre has been granted £9000 by Cumbria Housing Partners Fund, managed by Cumbria Community Foundation, to support a new employability project ‘Opening New Doors’. The programme aims to help people in South Copeland create better life chances by helping them open doors to new opportunities and find success in their lives.

Paul Stewart, Centre Manager

Advocate for lifelong learning, Centre Manager Paul Stewart said “Achieving success in life is a different measure for everyone. ‘Opening New Doors’ aims to support people overcome their personal barriers to success by offering learning opportunities which not only increase their employability but importantly help to improve their self-esteem.  By helping people to grow in confidence they are better able to deal with the challenges they face in day to day life, raise their personal aspirations and become valued members of the community

Free learning support at Millom Network Centre

Millom Network Centre offers a variety of activities to support local people improve their life chances. Work and Skills Officer, Carol Pugh and the team offer free, one to one, bespoke support to help people access training and qualifications they need to find voluntary or paid employment. In addition to key subjects such as English, mathematics and science they can help people access practical skills training in construction and horticulture.

Carol Pugh, Work and Skills Officer with student Pauline (L to R )

One of the participants, Pauline, has just completed an online course which has increased her personal confidence and digital skills; she said “Thanks to the Opening New Doors programme and passing my recent qualification, I really feel on top of the world!”

They also offer support to overcome personal hurdles which may be barriers to work – improving social skills, CV writing, job searches and interview techniques. The team are  happy to have an informal chat with anyone who might be interested in finding more about the support on offer, people can call on  01229 719650.

John Clasper, Chair of Cumbria Housing Partners, said: “We are delighted to support this project. People living in rural communities, like Millom, can experience additional barriers to employment including access to training and employment opportunities due to their location. By offering local training solutions Millom Network Centre provides a vital link to the future success of individuals and the whole community.

Annalee Holliday, Grants & Donor Services Officer for Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “Millom is rurally isolated with residents having to travel 45 minutes to the nearest large towns. It also has higher unemployment that the national average but with the injection of funding, Millom Network Centre is working hard to encourage enterprise and improve life-long training provision.”

 

 

 

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, so we are delighted to announce another grant made from Cumbria Housing Partners Fund. Mind in West Cumbria has been granted £7,000 towards the costs of a new three year project, “Open Mind”.

Mind in West Cumbria, is a registered charity which exists to promote good mental health and well-being for people in Allerdale and Copeland.   Working  in collaboration with other agencies and local partners, they deliver holistic and bespoke services to support adults with experience of mental distress and learning disabilities.

“Mental health issues are common, one in four are likely to suffer from diagnosable mental health problems.”

“Open Mind” will support people living with mental health issues to overcome some of the barriers which stop them getting into employment. By offering training in personal social skills and basic education, alongside other therapeutic support, the holistic project aims to increase employability – enabling members to reach their potential and fulfil their aspirations.

Dr Brian Campbell, Chairman of Mind in West Cumbria says “Many of our members are relatively young, presently unemployable but with a large part of life ahead of them. Some are in need of basic, social, literacy and numeracy skills as a result of their schooling being disrupted due to mental health issues. The grant will enable us to provide a series of weekly courses relevant to our member’s needs -from basic skills through to accessing higher and further education. This will complement other one to one work we are doing to support them.

Mental health issues are common, one in four are likely to suffer from diagnosable mental health problems. Anyone, at any stage or age may experience poor mental health causing them to “drop out” of their lives temporarily or for a longer term. Many people with ongoing mental health issues can, and do, learn to manage their symptoms and have fulfilling lives as vital members of their communities, professionally and personally.

Through this project and our other work we want to encourage personal development, to help them rekindle their ambitions and reach beyond the horizons which seem limited due to illness, and on to a brighter space where they can thrive as individuals.”

John Clasper, Chair of Cumbria Housing Partners, said “Supporting projects which help local people into employment is the key aim of the Cumbria Housing Partners Fund. This project offers an opportunity for people whose aspirations have been curtailed as a result of mental health issues to overcome barriers to employment and we are proud to be able to fund it.”

Annalee Holliday, Grants & Donor Services Officer for Cumbria Community Foundation, added “Mental health issues can affect people from all walks of life. The Foundation supports local projects that provide a lifeline for people with nowhere else to turn, whether they are recovering from trauma, addiction or mental breakdown, or coping daily with stress, depression, anxiety or loneliness. This funding comes at a critical time, demand for funding support in this area is set to grow as statutory mental health services continue to be affected by cuts and are stretched to capacity.”

In this blog, Deputy Area Manager for Inspira,  Chris Gibson, explains how  £10,000 project funding awarded by Cumbria Housing Partners has achieved positive success in supporting local people into employment; and why training more people in construction is vital to the future of Cumbria.

“According to the Cumbria Observatory – construction is the fourth largest employer in Cumbria, with over two thousand people working within the industry.

During a  networking event I struck up a conversation with Lesley Dixon from Cumbria Housing Partners (CHP), we discussed the work we do at Inspira with unemployed adults and the many ways in which we support them on their journey back into employment. CHP  work in the social housing sector and as part of adding social value, they are involved in creating jobs and apprenticeships for those living homes managed by local  housing associations.

Cumbria Housing Partners set up  a fund to provide grants to community and voluntary organisations running projects aimed at improving people’s employability or education. Cumbria Community Foundation manage this fund. Part of the criteria for consideration are activities which provide advice and guidance, support and engage people in their local community – a natural fit for Inspira.

With construction a key employment sector in West Cumbria, and social housing and creating jobs a core focus for CHP – a pre-employment programme for construction in Allerdale and Copeland was created. Utilising Inspira’s experience of combining hands on, vocational training with classroom based employability skills workshops we applied for funding and were successful.

The project was up and running early in 2018 . Candidates were assessed to understand their strengths and weaknesses, which resulted in a skills action plan being developed, candidate’s CVs were updated, interview skills honed.  The candidates were also supported in understanding how to search for jobs, in theory and in practice.

The vocational element was built around a ‘Health and Safety in Construction’ course, followed by a Construction Skills Certification Scheme which enables candidates to work safely on a construction site. Further to this, training was given which led to T1 and 2 certificates, allowing those qualified to work as part of highways and road works teams thereby further increasing their chances of employment.

The first course ran in Workington,  with fourteen local unemployed people attending. The second took place in Whitehaven during March with fifteen people attending. The course was quite intensive and lasted fifteen full days. We received excellent feedback with all attendees gaining a worthwhile experience.

As part of the pre-employment programme, employers with live vacancies were identified including TSO Labouring, Street Wise and Best Connections. Each of these employers now employ participants from the course.

To date, of the 29 people who have completed the pre-employment programme, six have gone into employment and a further ten have registered with various agencies. The participants who have successfully found work were also supported with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Inspira continues to support the reminder with applications and job searches.”

Cumbria Housing Partners Fund has given £5,000 to support the vital work of the Citizens Advice (CAB) service in Allerdale and Copeland to offer a Benefits Advice project to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable residents living in properties managed by the housing associations which are part of the consortium.

There is a real need for free, independent and impartial advice throughout West Cumbria and the thousands of people that use the Citizens Advice service in Allerdale and Copeland every year are proof of that. In 2016/17 they advised on over 8,700 different issues relating to benefits, tax credits and universal credit. Both offices report an increase in the number of clients seeking assistance with complex issues requiring longer term and more specialist advice.

Shelley Hewitson, Chief Officer for Citizens Advice Copeland says “Our Benefits Advice Project in West Cumbria supports people living in Copeland and Allerdale at difficult times in their lives. The aim of Universal Credit is to simplify the benefit system, however the implementation of the new system is leaving hundreds of people across West Cumbria without the means to make ends meet. Every day we have people visiting our offices who are in need of advice and support to navigate the new benefits system.

Thanks to this funding we are able to provide income maximisation checks and assist clients to make applications for any applicable benefit. We can also challenge benefit decisions at the mandatory reconsideration stage. By providing them with the support they need to deal with the welfare benefit issues they face, we help them to plan and move forward with their lives.

John Clasper, Chair of Cumbria Housing Partners says “We are very pleased to be able to support the CAB in this project. When people need to apply for benefits there is often a lot going on in their lives and the process can often be confusing. Making an application for Universal Credit can seem overwhelming and it is hard for people to know who to turn to. Having a free and impartial Benefits Advice Service provides a helping hand and support for people at this important time.

Annalee Holliday, Grants & Donor Services Officer for Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “Our grants fund charitable projects which support the most vulnerable members of our communities; this is at the heart of what we do. It is clear that the work of Citizens Advice, ranging from increasing incomes to helping reduce utility costs, is making a real difference to people who are experiencing financial hardship, and give them a better quality of life.

Procure Plus

A market place benchmark review undertaken by Cumbria Housing Partners has placed Procure Plus as best value materials provider for the housing associations which form the Cumbria Housing Partners consortium.

Cumbria Housing Partners is the only local procurement group for social housing landlords in Cumbria. Helping member landlords save time and money by buying materials and contractors for repair and maintenance work on their homes.  Working together and using our combined buying power, we make savings for our members that can be reinvested to improve the lives and futures of people living in our communities.

For 10 years Procure Plus has been working through a materials framework with Cumbria Housing Partners to provide components used in planned maintenance work on properties. These include doors, windows, bathrooms and kitchens.

Demonstrating Value For Money

David Hall, Procurement Manager for Cumbria Housing Partners, says “With an annual spend of over £1.27 million on components; it is important that we continually demonstrate ‘Value for Money’ to our members and their tenants.  The benchmark exercise enabled us to explore the market place to determine the most competitive provider to meet our members’ needs before the end of the current arrangements.

We compared a ‘basket of products’ from the hundreds of products we buy annually to assess the suitability of each potential framework provider. Our decision for preferred framework provider was based upon the most economically advantageous offer, taking into account product range, distribution, service provision and price.

It is excellent news for our members that our current provider has demonstrated they offer the best value for money.  We are delighted that Procure Plus continues to provide market leading solutions and look forward to continuing to provide great service and outstanding value for money to the CHP members in the future”

Gwen Beeken, Managing Director for Procure Plus Holdings commented, “We welcome the result of the independent benchmarking.  At PPH we work continuously to improve our systems and procedures to ensure we provide the optimum value for all the frameworks we operate and are the preferred route for our supply chain, securing the best value.  It’s an excellent result to find that after 10 years working with Cumbria Housing Partners that we remain first for value”

 

apprentices
Bell Group, national painting and decorating contractor, is offering two painting and decorating apprenticeships in Cumbria starting September 2018. This is a great opportunity to earn and learn a trade at the same time.

The job will require you to attend college and site-based training in Painting and Decorating or Multi Trade over a 2-3 year period, with the aim of achieving an NVQ Level 1,2-3. You will then progress to a full time site based role. During your apprenticeship you will gain experience in all aspects of the role, including skilled based works, Health & Safety, site procedures, customer liaison etc. and will be provided with on the job training leading to NVQ Certificate Level 1, 2, 3.

Bell Group is one of the contractors Cumbria Housing Partners  work with to provide planned internal and external property maintenance.  Like us, they are committed to investing in the future to improve the communities they work in.

” We are committed to employing apprentices to ensure continued quality of workmanship and business sustainability. Our organisation provides an excellent platform for apprentices to learn, develop and achieve their potential, we have apprentice mentors to support your progression.”

Bell Group

Get in touch with  Bell Group for more information on how to apply for these apprenticeships Email:  apprentices@bell-group.co.uk.

 

Wigton Youth Station has provided a much needed and valued safe space for the towns’ young people for over 20 years. With over 85 members in total, the charity runs activities and provides a social space for young people between 11 and 25, encouraging their aspirations and supporting their transition into adulthood through informal learning. So we were delighted to be able to fund one of their youth workers on a vocational training course.

Centre Manager, Angela Bicknell, requested the grant to support the year long training course for a support worker “ Having a vocational qualification gives the staff a professional confidence to look at new ways to engage with young people. It is of value to the whole staff team as it helps them strive towards best practice as they gain new skills and experience. It is also important to demonstrate to the parents of young people,local businesses and funders our commitment to the highest level of professionalism ”

Never give up on your dreams 
Yvette Pepper, centre, with Wigton Youth Stationeers

Newly appointed youth worker, Yvette Pepper left school at 13 with no qualifications and understands how difficult it is for young people to overcome the setbacks and hold on to their. aspirations. “Sometimes the educational or emotional difficulties young people face can be hidden from school and from the people who care for them. If you are not succeeding and don’t fit in you can fall through the net; it can be harder to hold onto or achieve your dreams.”

Yvette’s journey demonstrates how early adversity doesn’t have to limit expectations. She went on to gain a business qualifaction before moving into support work where she applies her experiences to encourage young people facing complex life situations. “Teaching life skills so young people support themselves as an independent adults can be just as important as traditional education. The Youth Station provides informal learning opportunties in a safe space which help build confidence. Many of our projects are linked to current issues in their lives; helping them to recognise issues causing them worry and build emotional resliance to overcome stressful situations.”

Yvette says, “I am over the moon that Cumbria Housing Partners has given me the opportunity to study for a Youth Work Practice Diploma.  As a single parent the distance learning course enables me to combine work and study.” Yvette is determined to best the best example she can be to her own daughter and the young people she works with. Once this course is completed she intends to go on to study a masters degree in youth work.

Lesley Dixon, Cumbria Housing Partners Director says “We are delighted to be able to fund training for Wigton Youth Station support worker, Yvette and we wish her every success with her studies. Encouraging the aspirations of local residents and upskilling those to who work in our communities is at the heart of what we do”

Annalee Holliday, Grants & Donor Services Officer for Cumbria Community Foundation, said:  “Many charities often face a skills gap as there is limited or no funding to upskill staff or volunteers. By providing a training grant, Cumbria Housing Partners have demonstrated a commitment to personal development of local residents, as well as capacity building of Wigton Youth Station, which will ultimately benefit the youngsters who attend.

Are you eligible for funding?

The Cumbria Housing Partners Fund, administered by Cumbria Community Foundation, provides grants of up to £10,000 to community and voluntary organisations running projects aimed at improving people’s employability or education.

Grants of up to £500 are also available to individuals aged 16 or over who wish to undertake work-based education or training to improve their employability. Activities which provide advice and guidance, support and engage people in their local community, and improve community facilities will also be considered For more information, visit www.cumbriafoundation.org or call 01900 825760.

Working with local contractors, Cumbria Housing Partners creates jobs and apprenticeships for people who live in the communities we work in across Cumbria. In National Apprentice Week 2018 we want to celebrate the apprentices we are proud to support and the businesses they work with.

We know how important it is to invest in the future workforce, for business and for individuals.  During 2017/18 we have supported 22 apprenticeships with local employers. This support includes training bursaries, toolkits and help with driving lessons as well as regular visits to make sure that the apprentices are on track to achieve.

Meet Xena

Xena PPM Limited Apprentice and Ambassador 

Xena Lippett, 17, from Barrow, works for PPM Limited and is completing  a Business Administration Apprenticeship with Furness College. PPM Limited say she is a valued member of the team in South Lakes and is a real ambassador for them attending jobs fairs, talking to students about her experience as an apprentice.