Turning Point and Business in the Community

News item posted: 28 August 2014

Since June 2014, Turning Point and Business in the Community have been working in partnership to support clients from the South Westminster Drug and Alcohol Service back into work.

For 50 years Turning Point, a social enterprise, has been working with individuals in a range of settings including community services, primary care settings, hospitals and prisons, to turn their lives around. Through Business in the Community's Ready for Work Programme, Turning Point clients get tailored support from business back into work. The programme provides training, work placements and post-placement support to equip people with the skills and confidence they need to gain and sustain employment.

Nick Julius has been the Employment and Training Advisor for the Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Service in South Westminster since March 2014.

As Nick explains, employment and training, is high up on the Recovery Agenda when supporting somebody with a substance misuse issue;

"The Recovery Agenda looks beyond treatment and asks the question: How do we end the cycle of addiction and stop you coming back to us?" Nick explains "Security is essential if you want to build a life, and security comes with having a job. You can't do very much about planning for the future when you can't put food on the table, pay the rent, pay the electricity bills."

When a client arrives at Turning Point, the team do a thorough assessment of their needs.

"Even when the client is only concerned with getting their next fix, we begin to think about a pathway for people" Nick explains "Once they are stable enough, they may start doing a literacy course once a week at college or do two days volunteering, the first step could be very small but then it builds and you quickly ask what is next?"

And that is when the Ready for Work programme comes in.

The partnership has been a natural fit for Turning Point and Business in the Community. The clients supported by both organisations have very similar needs and barriers to employment. "A lot of our clients are worried about disclosure because they have a criminal history, some have mental health issues, are hostel based or sofa surfing. I recognise the clients from Business in the Community as being in the same situation as those from Turning Point."

Nick is clear that the reason Turning Point embarked on the partnership with Business in the Community was to access relationships with business that he was unable to do alone. And for Business in the Community, the partnership ensures a reliable stream of participants, who are ready for the programme, and supported by committed key workers.

Nick has 400 clients to support in South Westminster alone and this will only grow when his team link up with the tri borough services in Hammersmith, Fulham and Westminster. Having a client on Ready for Work means that Nick can concentrate on those that aren't quite ready for work;

"If a client is on the Ready for Work programme I know they will be receiving exceptional support from their work buddies and job coaches who volunteer their time to help my clients on their placements and in their job searches."

The opportunity offered to Turning Point clients by the businesses who support Ready for Work is invaluable;

"One client on the Ready for Work programme had been offered a job but his placement company but we weren't sure if he really wanted it" Nick recalls "When I asked the client about the offer he said 'I don't dare to hope anymore, I have applied for over 500 jobs and I have been excited too many times; I've got a family, I've got a home, I've got kids, this is too important for me, I just can't bring myself to believe that it's possible."

Nick has found that Ready for Work has had the unintended outcome of changing stereotypes and perspectives too;

"The business volunteers have a new understand of the kind of challenges people on the fringes of society face. While my colleagues, who were initially sceptical of working so closely with business, are desperate to get their clients on Ready for Work after they have seen the transformation it has made to others."

"People underestimate the power a work placement and the opportunity of employment can make to a person's life," Nick says "When you give somebody a job who hasn't worked for 10 years, who almost has nothing left to live for and has had awful things happen to them, MY GOD! The transformation you can make to a life."

Find out more about Business in the Community

Find out more about our South Westminster Drug and Alcohol Services