Scheme in Coventry bids to help people struggling with employment opportunities

WM Housing Group is running a scheme to help people who are struggling with employment opportunities in Coventry.

The ConnectMe scheme helps people gain useful skills and gives them the chance to apply for fixed term placements with WM Housing Group.

The scheme provides great opportunities for a variety of people including over 50s but can help anyone who is unemployed, over 16 and has a legal right to work in the UK.

ConnectMe has been set up to help anyone in the CV1 to CV6 postcodes, including residents of WM Housing Group.

It gives applicants a bespoke action plan which identifies their individual barriers to work.

Employment coaching is also offered along with one to one and group sessions to help develop skills. Workshops are held on key skills such as CV writing, job searching, interview skills and managing money.

Six-week voluntary work experience placements that have been approved by the job centre are also offered. People can apply for 12 and 18 month paid placements with WM Housing Group.

Head of Customer Involvement and Engagement at WM Housing Group, Claire Hardwick, said: “This is a fantastic scheme to help people gain the skills they need to find employment. Our six-week work experience and paid for placements help provide a stepping stone to the future.

“So far we have helped several people gain employment opportunities through the scheme and the workshops have also helped boost their confidence.

“The scheme is open to residents in Coventry and people who would like a bit of extra help with employment should get in touch.”

The scheme is European Social Fund matched – money is set aside by the European Union to support employment schemes across EU member states.

The scheme aims to help 146 people by the end of this year.

Bhupinder Birdee, 48, is one of the residents who has been helped by the scheme.

She was forced to give up work after a breast cancer diagnosis and had been out of work for five years.

She applied for the ConnectMe scheme and took part in a workshop about interview skills.

After completing this, she applied for a year’s placement in the lettings department at WM Housing Group in Little Park Street.

She said: “I saw the notice for ConnectMe as I live in one of the Whitefriars buildings. It is for people who are looking for a job but finding it hard.

“I couldn’t get a reference as I hadn’t worked for five years due to breast cancer.

“I phoned up and went to see Michael Clarke from the Money Advice team. He told me what ConnectMe is all about.

“I then did work experience for WM Housing in Willenhall for six to eight weeks.”

She said the ConnectMe scheme has helped her to gain confidence and she was able to apply for the placement in the lettings department.

She said: “I found it daunting trying to remember everything when coming back to work and working at specific times.

“ConnectMe has given me the confidence to come back into work and think about where I might go in the future.

“I’m proud of myself that I did this, coming from not working at all to being able to do something.

“I was amazed at the amount of support from Michael.

“I would totally encourage somebody to go for this scheme.”

Dean Atkinson from Coventry City Council says: “This is a great scheme to help people into work who have struggled with employment.

“Several people have been helped by the successful scheme so far and it is so rewarding to see people gain employment.

“Anyone who would like to get involved in the scheme should get in contact.”

To get involved with the scheme call 0300 790 6533 or email info@wmhousing.co.uk

Alternatively, people can speak to their Job Centre Plus work coach and quote opportunity reference number CFA/66719 and PRO-153997.

Bhupinder Birdee who has been helped by the ConnectMe scheme