Charity helps homeless people across Wigan borough find employment

The borough’s leading homelessness charity has revealed how it is breaking down barriers faced by homeless people when it comes to finding work.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 9:42 am
The group of people The Brick worked with to successfully gain the CSCS card

The Brick has been working with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to help anyone who has lived on the streets take their first steps into employment.

The group The Brick worked with faced an impossible situation. They were ready to look for employment, however, to gain employment working on building sites they needed a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to gain entry to work on a building site.

To train for and apply for the CSCS card each person needed to provide proof of identity and address, a frequent barrier facing people who are homeless, who have been recently homeless or who are residing in The Brick’s emergency access accommodation.

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Wendy Doherty, training and resource manager at The Brick, looked into putting on a course for anyone that the charity worked with who wanted to gain employment on building sites and who needed the CSCS card.

The group of 10 undertook a two-week, classroom-based course at The BrickWorks where every day, over a two-week period, they studied for three NVQs and the CSCS card.

The workshops included role-play, tests at the end of each module and the CSCS card exam in a formal testing centre.

Wendy said: “This particular group, that The Brick works with, had some experience of working on building sites but could no longer gain employment as they did not have the essential CSCS card.

“They faced barriers to applying for the card due to personal circumstances including relationship breakdown, substance abuse and poverty and some were transitioning through homelessness. They all needed the proof of address to apply for the card.”

Test centres required the proof of address for people to take the test needed to gain the NVQ qualifications and the CSCS card, which is administered by CITB on behalf of CSCS.

Wendy added: “When I discovered the barriers facing the people we work with, I called CITB and expected opposition and hurdles to the issues we faced. I was absolutely delighted and surprised when I was told, on that first call, that CITB would remove these barriers and that they would work with The Brick every step of the way to ensure that this group and future groups could sit the exams needed to gain their NVQs and the CSCS card.

“CITB couldn’t have been more helpful, they were amazing. It would be fantastic if other businesses could follow their lead and remove the barriers that the people we work with are faced with every single day.”

The group of 10 all achieved three NVQs - level one health and safety in a construction environment, level two in customer service and level one in employability skills - and were given the CSCS card after their exam.

Wendy concluded: “Attending the course, achieving the qualifications and the CSCS card not only boosted the confidence of everyone who participated, but it has allowed four of the group to gain employment already; three as labourers on new house build sites and one as a joiner.

“This means that they can once again earn money for a new home, for new clothes and for some, it’s money they need for transport to see their children once again.”

One of the individuals who participated in the course said: “It was just a brilliant feeling when I found out I could sit the exam as I just thought it was no use as I didn’t think they would remove the red tape - it felt like the end of the road for me.

“I have been able to secure work now and I can afford to pay rent on my new place. It was a life-changing moment for me to be able to get the construction card and get back into work."

Nina Briston, CITB product and service co-ordinator, said: “We were delighted to help these candidates back into construction and employment. In exceptional circumstances, we can apply a waiver to the usual strict ID requirements for the health, safety and environment test.”

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