Developing a Methodological Framework for Developing Local and Regional Plans for Social Inclusion




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Developing a Methodological Framework for Developing Local and Regional Plans for Social Inclusion


Integration into the Labour Market of Vulnerable Groups


LAPs and RAPs Case Studies


Dan Finn, July 2006


The ‘LAPs and RAPs’ project brings together partnerships to assess and tackle an identified problem of social exclusion and to develop a framework and methodology for the creation and implementation of Local Action Plans (LAPs) or Regional Action Plans (RAPs) for Social Inclusion.


These case studies were prepared following the second ‘LAPs and RAPs’ workshop, held in Rome in May 2006 that was focused on the integration of vulnerable groups into the labour market.


The following case studies provide employment related services for the long term unemployed and some of the most marginalised groups highlighted in social inclusion strategies. They reflect the diversity of interventions by national organisations and local partnerships that target either areas with high levels of unemployment and social exclusion or particular groups of vulnerable people.


The projects selected are those that the workshop reporter has direct research knowledge of and inevitably represent only a small sample of ‘best practice’. Many are drawn from Britain and some are from the USA where the projects selected have been subject to independent evaluation and of relevance as most have been designed for replication in more than one area. A few projects from other European countries have been included but many others can now be found in the reports on the European Commission website that extract the lessons learned from 20 years experience of programmes such as ERGO, LEDA, Territorial Employment Pacts, Urban, and IDELE (referred to in the main workshop report). In particular, there are many relevant case study descriptions now available on the European Social Fund website, with those from EQUAL being of particular relevance to the Social Inclusion strategy (see http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/emplweb/esf/esf_success_en.cfm, and http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/equal/index_en.cfm).


The case studies are organised in the following themes:


  • individual projects aimed at particular groups of vulnerable people, including the homeless, refugees, minority ethnic groups, and people with substance abuse problems;

  • area based projects that tackle concentrations of unemployment and economic inactivity; and

  • projects that combine employment assistance with temporary job creation that both provide routes into regular jobs for the long term unemployed and produce goods and services of value to disadvantaged communities.


Section One: Projects aimed at particular groups of vulnerable people


Case Study 1


British Projects for the Homeless: ‘Off the Streets and into Work’, Foyers, and ‘Street League Lifestyles Development Programme’


Off the Streets and into Work


Off the Streets and into Work (OSW) is a registered charity constituted by a partnership of agencies which provide employment training, advice, and guidance to people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, across London (see: www.osw.org.uk). OSW collaborate with a range of delivery and strategic partners to offer innovative, joined-up solutions to the complex problems that face people at the margins of society. It aims to help homeless people move towards employability by providing a wide range of services including training in IT, and skills for the construction and hospitality industries, as well as help with basic skills, confidence building, job search and advice and guidance.


The OSW partnership is based on the relationship between a small central team which co-ordinates the programme, and seventeen provider partners who actually deliver the services. The provider partners are independent organisations who in most cases also do other work outside of the OSW remit.


The data from their latest monitoring report gives some details about the 1,852 clients OSW worked with between April 2004 and March 2005. 63% of the clients were hostel residents, while 10% had been recently resettled, and 5% were rough sleepers (61% had experience of sleeping rough at some time). Nearly 90% were unemployed and 23% had been unemployed for more than 3 years. Just over half had relevant work experience and 46% had relevant qualifications. Nearly one in five had identified literacy needs and 18% had ESOL needs (i.e. English was not their first language). Another one in four were assessed to have one or more extra support needs relating to alcohol, drugs or mental health issues. 13% were refugees or asylum seekers.


Over the same period 160 OSW clients achieved an accredited qualification, or credits towards a qualification; 275 progressed onto further education or training; and 359 progressed on to other services or specialist support. 176 OSW participants entered paid employment and 45% of these jobs were permanent and full-time.


In addition to these networked services OSW is involved in a wide range of projects to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the homeless sector, to develop innovative new ways of working, and to build relationships with other sectors or with similar organisations in other parts of the UK or Europe.


Foyers


The origins of the Foyer movement lie in France. At a time of economic growth and much internal migration various providers of hostel accommodation for young workers had first come together in a voluntary grouping called the Union des Foyers de Jeunes Travailleurs (UFJT) (see: www.ufjt.org). In response to worsening conditions for young French people in the 1990s, and under pressure from the UFJT, the French government invested in a modernisation programme of Foyers, and this brought with it a shift in the Foyers' focus, towards the promotion of social inclusion and "insertion", or induction, into the adult world and labour market. The ‘Foyer’ concept has now been taken up in many European countries, from Spain to Denmark to Romania, but it has been in the UK that the network has developed most extensively.


Within the UK Foyers were first developed in 1992 and there is now a network of 131 Foyers supporting over 10,000 young people every year. Although the core philosophy of the UK and French Foyers is similar, there are also differences. In particular, UK Foyers tend to work with a more disadvantaged client group than their French counterparts, with an even greater focus on employment and training.


Foyers in the UK provide accommodation with opportunity for young people. By integrating training and job search, personal support and motivation with a place to live, they provide a bridge to independent living, and a chance for young people to realise their full potential. Unlike other accommodation, the Foyer requires a two-way agreement with residents, so that in exchange for accommodation and use of the Foyer services, the young person commits to working on an action plan to move towards personal and economic independence. What distinguishes foyers is the holistic approach they take to breaking the ‘no home: no job: no hope cycle’ experienced by many homeless and marginalised young people. They seek to tackle all their resident’s needs and skills, from housing and health to employment, education and training. By supporting young people in a joined up way, Foyers try to ensure that statutory services are accessed and that a young person’s needs do not slip through the net.


There are various types of Foyers in Britain, ranging in size from fewer than ten beds to well over 200. Foyers can be developed as new builds or as conversions from existing projects and services. All Foyers are independently developed and managed by local partnerships and/or Housing Associations, but a national Foyer Federation ensures that good practice and innovation is shared, and ensures the quality of provision through its Foyer Accreditation System (see www.foyer.net). The data on this website indicates that when entering Foyers, only 5% of young people are in full-time work, 6% are in part-time work, 28 % are in Government training or are students. On leaving the Foyer 24% are in full-time work, 11% are in part-time work, and 40% are in Government training or are students.


Street League Lifestyles Development Programme


This project is the brainchild of Dr Damian Hatton who worked as a doctor in the ‘Accident & Emergency’ department of the University College of London Hospital. His position there brought him into close contact with individuals from homeless and drug and alcohol backgrounds. He observed the one fundamental thing that was lacking in their life, and that was fun. Most were struggling through a daily grind of accessing the benefit system, finding a bed for the night, and worrying where their next meal was coming from. This was impacting on their general health. Dr Hatton was a keen sportsman with an understanding of how powerful an impact sport can have. He decided to set up a homeless football team and the ‘Street League’ was born, soon attracting 16 teams from homeless hostels around London (see: www.streetleague.co.uk). .


Street League uses football as a simple but effective tool to engage a large pool of players on a regular basis who traditionally have little access to sporting activities. The project then aims to develop an individual’s ability to be ‘coached’, both on and off the football pitch, with the objective of progressing individuals through a programme of non-formal education. The aim is to engage, motivate, inspire and instil a sense of community and discipline in individuals through the power of the sporting experience.


The project is delivered by full time staff supported by a team of dedicated volunteers. They recruit players by working in partnership with organisations that have existing relationships with the target groups, such as homeless hostels, day centres and local authorities. Together they build sustainable teams and funding, and partners allocate a member of staff as a Team Manager to accompany teams to training sessions and Matchdays. The football programme consists of 2 six-month seasons running from September to February and February to September. Every week there are 2 hour weekly training sessions with FA qualified and mentor trained coaches and 5-a-side monthly divisional Matchdays. At the end of each season they hold a bi-annual 5-a-side Cup Competitions and hold All-Star weekends for committed, talented players.


OSW operates a simple reward scheme that allows players to collect credits for each attendance at a training session. Credits enable players to participate in Matchdays, and can then be ‘traded in’ for rewards, such as, Street League kit via the website. Once individuals have achieved certain milestones through the sports programme they are invited to further progress themselves through a formal and structured Lifestyle Development Scheme.


From April 2006 they have also started to deliver a more structured ‘Directions 2 Work’ programme. This consists of a series of sports related training activities, which are nationally recognised and accredited courses. They are aimed at supporting players into full time education, employment and training.


Overall the education and training opportunities offered by the organisation now include:


  • Fit 4 Work: An accredited 50-hour course including communication skills, interview techniques, basic literacy and numeracy and IT skills.

  • Route planning: compulsory for those entering onto Directions 2 Work, Route planning is supported goal setting and action planning with a view to participating in one of the more structured training programmes.

  • Sports for Work: Community Sports Leadership Awards, integrating child protection and First Aid training and 10 hours voluntary work within Street League. The course includes leadership skills, health and safety, fitness, networking skills and event organisation.

  • Level 1 Football Coaching and Referee Training is available for individuals who have consistently met high standards in relation to skills levels, timekeeping, communication and teamwork.

  • Coach Apprenticeship Scheme: Two individuals at any one time to be selected based on outstanding commitment, attitude and development within Street League to be coaching apprentices with the potential of employment when coaching vacancies become available.


The organisation’s website indicates they had 1,905 attendances at their training sessions and on average 150 players were training in London on a weekly basis. Of those attending 51% were homeless; 37% were individuals in rehabilitation from a drug &/ or alcohol addiction; 7% were refugees or asylum seekers; and 6% had learning disabilities.


Since the start of the project it is estimated that over 4,000 severely disadvantaged individuals had participated in London. An evaluation of participants in one six month season found that 93% of those responding said that Street League had a positive impact on their life and 65% had made significant changes in their lives as a direct result of their involvement. 93% of participants said their health and fitness had improved and of these 71% reported it to be a large/significant improvement.


The approach of this project is being further developed. In East London they have successfully launched a Basketball League with 12 new teams and they have launched a Scottish League operating 24 teams in the East End of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.


Case Study 2


The REFLEX Project


The REFLEX (Regenerating Enterprise Through Local Economic Exchange) project implements an innovative model using the direct involvement of community groups to open up business creation processes and tackle barriers facing small and medium enterprises run by minority groups in areas of deprivation. The project is funded through the EU Equal programme, and aims to tackle inequality and discrimination through new forms of business creation and growth. The London Borough of Islington leads the project, with support from private, public and voluntary sectors.


In essence, REFLEX has developed an innovative way to deliver support to businesses run by people from minority ethnic communities. The uniqueness of the project is that it delivers and influences business support via already established community organisations. The approach builds on the inherent strengths of these community organisations, including communication, trust and cultural embeddedness within their respective ethnic minority, gender or religious groups.


Islington is a culturally and economically diverse area and 24% of its resident population are non-white. The REFLEX project took as its starting point the contribution that can be made by black and minority ethnic entrepreneurs to local job creation, effective race relations and positive images of diversity. They also were likely to make an important contribution to the delivery of mainstream public services, including employment programmes. Research showed, however, that only 10% of Islington enterprises had a non-white owner and that minority businesses were poorly served by mainstream business development agencies.


This was particularly significant as minority businesses often find themselves in marginal economic positions and disproportionately affected by changes in economic climate. The barriers faced by minority group small and medium sized enterprises include: lack of resources, lack of knowledge, lack of expertise, language barrier, diversity of the groups involved, lack of understanding from the larger players such as banks and business support agencies, lack of trust of mainstream organisations, and lack of skilled staff.


REFLEX attempts to offer a practical solution to the widespread call for ‘new partnerships’ and ‘new solutions’ to these issues.

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