The Work Skills project began in 2016/17, and has since become a fantastic offer to A Better Start Southend parents. With a key focus on skills, enterprise, employment and wider economic development, the project shows to parents within our wards that the world of work can be both exciting and accommodating to them and the needs of their young children.

An internal evaluation of the Work Skills project showed that the rewards of the project extend far beyond just the financial benefits that a regular income can bring to families, and A Better Start Southend are also aware that there is considerable international evidence that demonstrates lower income received within a family may, in some cases, limit opportunities for a child’s social and emotional development, educational achievements and even their health.

Through the Work Skills project, A Better Start Southend aims to support parents in returning to work, beginning a new career, finding a voluntary role or gaining skills and accredited learning opportunities.

Currently, the Work Skills project has a suite of four exciting themes:

  • Learning for Mum and Dad A monthly programme of free training and educational resources which aid employment skills.
  • Intro2Enterprise Helping parents become inspired to start their own business, or become an entrepreneur.
  • Industry Visits Support in finding the right career path with guidance and tips from professionals ‘in the know’, working in conjunction with local companies
  • 60 Minute Mentor Parents can discover possible career pathways through meeting inspirational role models, who are able to offer practical advice.

From September 2019, the Work Skills project will have a very inspiring new way of operating, which will see the industry visits and 60 Minute Mentor sessions combine into job fairs that will be held locally within the A Better Start Southend wards. In addition, impactful taster sessions will be offered to parents to attend before embarking on the full Learning for Mum and Dad course. There will also be some sessions to offer helpful advice on juggling being a working parent, exploring childcare options, wellbeing and resilience, supporting parents to navigate the school system in order to support school readiness and even help in understanding transport options when beginning their new opportunity.

These small changes will work to make the Work Skills project even more accessible to parents who wish to attend.

Wendy Bailey, Programme Manager, A Better Start Southend, said of the extension:
“We are really excited to begin the new delivery focus of the Work Skills project. Through the service review and evaluation process, we have been working alongside colleagues from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and have benefitted from expertise from Jessica Russel, Southend’s first Co-production Champion. We are now gearing up to the next phase of the review, which will engage ABSS parents and the wider community through three co-production events taking place in March and April.”

Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “We were delighted to be informed that the ABSS Workskills Project has been extended until March 2022, by the Early Years Alliance. This will allow us to continue to help change the lives of parents with 0 – 4-year-old children and expectant parents in the six A Better Start wards in Southend, by helping them to remove barriers to work, and encouraging parents to move towards volunteering, education and employment.

“This extension will allow us to review our existing programme and ensure that we are delivering the most useful and helpful programme to parents. Thank you to the parents and our many internal and external partners for your support so far, and we look forward to working with you over the next two years to continue to make a real difference to families with young children in Southend.”

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