Tackling Poverty Fortnight 2016 – Bron Afon Housing

During the first two weeks of February, the Wales Co-operative Centre is running its third Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign.

With the next Welsh Assembly elections looming and the Welsh Government’s current Tackling Poverty Action plan due to end this year, the Centre hopes the campaign will help to support and inform future efforts around these issues.

The campaign will promote successful co-operative projects that are currently being delivered by the third sector and social businesses in Wales to help tackle poverty, in the hope the incoming Welsh Government builds on current good practice, and explores new, innovative ideas.

Today, we look at the work of Bron Afon Housing, and how it helps people back into work

Take seventeen unemployed Torfaen women who are really keen to improve their chances of finding work, by getting themselves the experience and knowledge needed to succeed in the skills and jobs market, and what have you got?  Perfect recruits for Decorating That Works!

‘That Works’ is run by Bron Afon’s investment and inclusion team and helps residents get the confidence and skills to get back into work. In the last few years the project has had lots of success in projects including Sport That Works and Trade That Works.

Our team works with Job Centres and our own job clubs to sign up people for the projects, which are typically run over eight weeks.  They are a mix of practical and theory sessions, which help to keep participants interested, focused and on track so that they get the best from their training.

People get involved in “…That Works” for all kinds of reasons: they may lack confidence and self-worth, feel lonely and isolated or just can’t see the wood for the trees when it comes to applying for jobs or finding work.

This was just the case with the women who took part in Decorating That Works. All of them were really motivated by the chance to fulfil their aspirations of finding employment, some hadn’t done well at school and  felt that they were “on the scrapheap”; others had been sat at home for years or were facing barriers like lack of childcare or not being able to drive.

Ria Gibbs and Rachel Knight from our investment and inclusion team were determined to show these women that given the right opportunity and encouragement, they could really make something of their lives.

The women got to practice the decorating skills they picked up by painting the inside of the building, which also gave them the confidence to paint their own homes.

This newly-found confidence was also enhanced by the sessions they took part in to improve their chances of finding work.  This is a standard feature of  “…That Works” – everyone who participates is given advice and guidance on writing or updating their  CV, interview techniques as well as applying for jobs and completing application forms. They are also supported for up to a year once they are in work to make sure that they go the distance.

A big bonus to the women was gaining three accredited qualifications, including First Aid, Health and Safety and a certificate awarded by ASDAN, an educational charity that promotes learning opportunities for people affected by poverty.

Since Decorating That Works ended, there’s some brilliant news.  Two of the women have jobs – one in retail and one in care; two are starting volunteer placements with local decorating firms and six are going onto Prince’s Trust projects.

Watch this video to hear the women talk about what they achieved and how the project has helped to change each of their lives.

The Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign is also using Thunderclap to generate public support, and the Twitter hashtag #PovertyInWales. You can also access the Wales Co-operative Centre’s manifesto which sets out actions that are needed to support and strengthen the development of co-operative approaches across Wales.


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