Anti-Slavery Day – Bright Future Programme Update
Published 18 Oct 2020 in Community
Hi, my name is Dawn Green, and I work as an Assistant HR Advisor within the Society as well as the sponsor for the Bright Future Programme. As its Anti-Slavery day on 18th October, it is the perfect time to share with you all the great things we are doing with Bright Future to ensure that Anti-Slavery within organisations is eliminated. Let me discuss a few updates for you all.
What is the Bright Future Programme?
Bright Future is an employment programme developed by Co-op Group in partnerships with City Hearts which now includes business partners and charity partners working together, to provide victims of modern slavery with a pathway to paid employment and reintegration into society. The programme is open to survivors of modern slavery who are identified as suitable by the referring charity partner.
In practice this involves the society employing a survivor of modern slavery for a four-week paid placement and if desired by both candidate and employer at the end of 4 weeks, a move into permanent employment after a non-competitive interview and if there Is a suitable vacancy to be taken up.
There are now 28 referring partners the likes of;
Adavu, Black Country Women's Aid, City Hearts, Haven of Light, Hestia, Jericho Foundation, Sophie Hayes Foundation, The Children's Society & The Salvation to name a few.
There are also 21 business partners, many are names you will recognise that support the programme with Midcounties like;
Angus Soft Fruits, Arco, Body Shop, Co-op Group, Dixons Carphone Warehouse, East of England Co-op, John Lewis Partnership, Marshalls, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Tulip, Typhoo and many more.
How have we supported survivors of modern slavery while working with Bright Future?
We have supported the Bright Future programme by sourcing and providing 8 placements so far with 6 placements being taken up within our Retail group and our Childcare group – Managers across both groups have embraced the Bright Future programme and have been really keen to support this programme – 3 candidates went on to hold permanent contracts with the Society after the initial 4 week paid placement. During the placement, candidates are provided with a buddy/ mentor who support them and help them gain relevant skills within the roles they are doing, bearing in mind this may be the first job they have ever held.
Some of these candidates we are working with have been through terrible ordeals, so we need to make sure we are doing right by them. The programme helps them to feel less vulnerable enabling them to have some stability in their lives especially when they are moved from their safe houses. I believe that by supporting this programme we are giving survivors the chance to rebuild their lives and give them back their dignity and zest for a happier life.
How does the programme support with employability and employment?
During the initial 4-week placements regular contact is made with the candidate and the referring partner/support worker. When speaking with the candidates they all state that their placements have given them some confidence back, they enjoy working in a team and the time in placement has improved their communication and interpersonal skills. One candidate stated that the placement and permanent role that followed gave her the confidence to take her driving test with a permanent salary being earned which enabled her to buy a car and give her back the independence she lost during her traumatic past. She was so grateful to the Society for giving her the opportunity and now continues to hold a permanent role with the Society. Feedback like this shows we are doing the right thing in supporting this programme and it certainly motivates me in talking to our Managers and encouraging more colleagues to support the programme in the future.
Even if the candidate does not stay after the 4-week placement we know we have given them the skills and confidence to take into any future roles. The programme also gives them a taster into a certain role, which they thought would be an ideal career for them but in reality, actually isn’t. So, some love it and others will think it’s not for them and move on but during their time with us they have developed better communication & customer service skills, local knowledge, teamwork, good attitude to work and with timekeeping and organisation skills.
What are the future plans and how will Midcounties strengthen this relationship?
The future plans in regard to placements have recently been put on hold due to the current COVID-19 situation. However, behind the scenes, work has been going on for the Bright Future digital Platform with the support of BT and Do It Life. Improved recruitment processes will ensure that the candidates are selected quicker through the various referral channels rather than the current slower process due to the platforms used. This will help to ensure a better future experience for the user and a much speedier placement found for the candidate.
The recent news is very exciting! The Bright Future programme has been voted to become a co-operative in its own right with funding from some of the business partners. The decision means
the programme is able to continue in the future and hopefully build upon this with support from business partners and referring partners to maintain momentum and build for a Bright Future for all. The Board will consist of business partners, referring partner charities and it is hoped candidates will also join with an equal number of board members from each group.
To find out more about the Bright Future programme, please click here.