Humans of ES

As part of the anniversary, Employability Solutions have created a social art exhibition. Inspired by Humans of New York, the 20-image exhibition, called ‘Humans of ES’ was photographed by managing director, Chris Chinnock, and aims to convey the social impact of Employability Solutions through the real-life stories of those who have been supported by the school over the last 10 years.

  • £4.3m re-invested into social enterprise start-ups and collaborations
  • 76,000+ hot and healthy meals provided to young people and vulnerable residents in the community
  • 79,800 hours spent on emotional and psyical wellbeing interventions
  • 137 ‘local jobs for local people’ created
  • £1.1m redistributed into non-means tested bursaries
  • 2000+ young people have received our support 
  • 8,000+ qualifications delivered that directly support the employment of a young person
  • 70% annual growth rate sustained year on year
  • 10,000 hours of volunteering opportunities created, supporting people to break down barriers to employment
  • £187,980 reinvested into opportunities to improve the lives and social skills needed for independent living

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Q&A with Claire Cook

Q&A with Claire Cook

In honour of Neurodiversity Celebration week, our proprietor Claire, sat down to discuss her experiences with neurodiversity!

Can you tell us about your experience with Neurodiversity and your diagnosis?

I identify as an autistic woman with a formal diagnosis of ADHD which came only last year in December of 2022.

I find the co-morbidity of the two conditions challenging at times yet, they have not prevented me from achieving anything I have set my mind to.

How does it generally affect you and the way you experience the world?

I work hard to manage the areas of my condition that affect me the most, such as forgetfulness, by using practical strategies at home and at work – particularly with things like organisation and routines. This includes dedicating homes for items like keys and credit cards. Also, having robust filing systems for work and wardrobes is a must!

I can exhaust people with my need to know everything and I tend to plan things in detail to provide me the certainty I need to feel reassured. On the flip side, I can be impulsive and whimsical – I sometimes make decisions without always considering the consequences.

However, I am very resourceful and have learned how to build a team of incredible talent around me who support me to plug the gaps, understand my needs and celebrate and appreciate my strengths.

Employability Solutions truly is an inclusive organisation, with 17% of staff employed declaring some form of neurodiversity – what would you like other business leaders/employers to know about employing a neurodiverse workforce?

Get educated and discover the untapped potential of employing people with a broad range of neurodiverse brains and the benefits to the business and the bottom line.

My Nan used to say “It takes all sorts to make the world go round” so diversity really is key to a fulfilled and vibrant workforce.

I advise employees to really get to know themselves too and don’t shy away from bringing their whole selves to work.

We bring so much to the workplace too!

From those of us who love to follow instructions and routines and have excellent attendance at work to those of us who are free, creative, outside-the-box thinkers who bring new ideas and solutions to benefit the business.

With more understanding employers, some reasonable adjustments, and an open mind we can build better opportunities for young people entering the workforce for the first time.

I’m Glad to see in the spring budget 2023 additional resources being earmarked for supported employment opportunities for those young people with and without EHCP’s.

A photo of our Proprietor, Claire Cook

What would you consider your strengths to be, thanks to your neurodivergence and do you think this sets you apart from other people?

I am a superwoman!

I can come up with creative solutions to problems quickly and can hold many ideas at once in my mind. I am relentless and rarely give up once I commit to something or someone.

I really understand the needs of the young people we serve, which helps me shape an inclusive organisation in which young people can learn to be themselves as soon as they begin their journey with us. For too long society had forced people like me to “fit in” and “comply” –  I like to make my own rules up and challenge mainstream thinking.

I am honest (some might say too honest) but I don’t shy away from speaking my mind and although when I was younger this outspokenness got me into trouble and lots of it, it serves me now in the work I do to advocate for those whose voices are overlooked and needs aren’t met.

We’ve been shortlisted for the 2022 SEYH ‘Social Impact’ Award!

We’ve been shortlisted for the 2022 SEYH ‘Social Impact’ Award!

We are one of 3 organisations that have been shortlisted for this award for all our hard work over the last year! We have been considered for this due to our work during lockdown delivering support packages of food, and other supplies to our students to keep them engaged and progressing throughout such a difficult time. We have also been considered due to our personalised curriculum, our engagement with the families of our young people, our voluntary work, and the relationships we form with our students, even highlighting the students that have returned to us as Staff.

We strongly believe in our vision: ‘An empowered generation of employable young people, making a positive contribution to society.’ This starts for us in our own school. We believe in having a tailored curriculum. One that doesn’t view learning as ‘one size fits all’ and is underpinned by a desire to enable all students to develop their personal, social, academic and employability skills to a level which enables them to lead meaningful, happy lives. This is designed to have a tangible community benefit as well. 

 

Our commitment to our student’s learning is something we pride ourselves on and nothing displays this more than the work we committed to during lockdown. Love is at the heart of everything we do, and our amazing staff proved this by going above and beyond to ensure our students were engaged, learning and making positive choices during lockdown. We delivered equipment for them to take part in remote lessons, delivered care packages to those who needed them. 

Our staff changed their hours of work, some working as late as 8pm, to make much-needed home visits and check on our young people. Check out the photo above to see our wonderful Elaine, sitting on the kerb having a cuppa! We also received acknowledgement cards from Jo-Anne Saunders of Kirklees Council and the lord-lieutenant of West Yorkshire recognising the hard work we put in during such a turbulent period. 

Our work is not limited to just students on our roll though, we are a social enterprise, and it is important to us that our work benefits the local communities. We sponsor local sports teams, such as the Mossley Hill Junior Football Team. Sport and physical activity are so important for our young people as it offers them the opportunity to channel their energy into positive outlets. It has great benefit to the social, emotional and mental health of our young people as it offers you a safe space to make friends, be part of a community and keep yourself fit and healthy! 

 

We have also started projects to encourage a sense of community in our local area. One example of this is our recent community kitchen project. Our South Liverpool Youth Hub was working with several young Afghan refugees this summer. Due to the ongoing situation in their home country, they have had to come to the UK for their safety. Currently they are living in a local hotel and don’t have anywhere to be able to cook, so we came up with the idea to form a community kitchen project! This involved once a week, inviting the Afghan young people to come to visit us in our Garston centre and work with some of our young people, teaching each other our own local dishes.

This encouraged the two communities to work together, learn from each other and form friendships. We believe in buying local, to help support other local businesses, so most of the equipment and ingredients we didn’t already have were bought from shops local to us. This is just one of our successful community projects. 

These are just a few examples of our work over the last 2 years, and we are looking forward to continuing this work in the future!

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Mandy Jamieson in the Big Issue

Mandy Jamieson in the Big Issue

Mandy Jamieson in the Big Issue

Mandy Jamieson, a mother whose teenage son lost his life in a stabbing has spoken out against the senselessness of knife crime as his killer is sentenced. Click here to read more.

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