By Nick Stephenson, project manager for employment and training.
As we embark on a new year, many of us face far greater challenges than keeping to the resolutions made during the festivities. The Christmas hangover can result in real financial hardship for some. Choosing to forget about the rent for a few months to recoup excess Christmas spending can ultimately lead to eviction. Our employment and training support may mean the difference between a downward spiral of rent arrears and developing the capacity to work, generating income to cover rental payments.
Last year we helped 400 people into work. Our programme of support provides one-to-one coaching, access to job clubs and employers, as well as partnerships with local colleges, businesses and Job Centre Plus.
Christine* is a lone parent of two young children who was struggling to live on benefits and had fallen into rent arrears. She had a work history in Romania but none in the UK and lacked the confidence to apply for jobs. With coaching and guidance, Christine was able to identify her skills, develop her CV and look for jobs. We supported her in completing applications and prepared her for interviews. She went on to secure a job as a sewing machinist. Christine has now agreed a payment plan with our Income Collection Team and has significantly reduced her arrears.
Choosing to forget about the rent for a few months to recoup excess Christmas spending can ultimately lead to eviction.
Gregg* is 58, single, lives alone, has a varied work history, suffers from depression and has a history of alcohol misuse. When Gregg first met us he had not worked for some time, his rent arrears were rapidly increasing and he was facing eviction. We spent time building a good relationship with him and helped him to manage his expectations of work. With encouragement and support, Gregg completed an employability course which led to a job in retail. And he came to realise just how critical his rent arrears had become. He understood that eviction was the next step if he didn’t set up a payment arrangement. We helped Gregg set this up and he started paying off his arrears. He’s turned his life around and is now holding down a job, arrears free.
We support lots of people like Christine and Gregg. As a trusted housing provider, working closely with our customers and other partners, we are well placed to tackle the barriers to employment. We cannot be everything to everyone, but with cuts to benefits and the introduction of Universal Credit, our employment and skills work is even more essential.
* pseudonyms used to protect identity.