The following was written by Charisse about her experience using Birmingham Settlement’s Job Club.
My name is Charisse Reynolds, I previously attended Job Club this year at Birmingham Settlement in Aston. I was actively searching for work at the time, but I found the support, guidance and advice given to me by Sourour and Louise, motivating and friendly. I was always called the day before Job Club to remind me to attend, which was a very welcoming prompt for me to continue my job search. After getting many unsuccessful applications, I often felt like giving up, demotivated by the lack of results for my efforts. But the Job Club put me in touch with other likeminded people who were feeling the exact same way. We could share job search tips, vacancies we had seen and new schemes that were recently being implemented. If one person didn’t turn up to Job Club, because they had an interview or a job offer, it gave me a positive push towards finding work and being hopeful that I would find work too.
After applying to a recruitment agency, I soon found work and for a short period of time I was starting to rebuild a scheduled routine. But before long the contracts were withdrawn and work dried up. I had to visit the Job Centre many times and was told that supporting me with travel to attend interviews or the first month of employment was no longer an option available. However, there was a fund for me to attend an interview outside of Birmingham. I was quite frustrated with the idea that I was getting more support to seek work outside of Birmingham rather than seek employment within the area. I asked for advice and support at the Job Club, and they helped me to plan out a reasonable plan of entering employment in a new town.
Step by step I had new concerns and tasks to undertake to make this transition. I didn’t think that I would be able to do it but Sourour and Louise helped me by sharing their opinions and experiences, motivating me about the prospects of something new, whilst highlighting the preparations and requirements to relocate and re-enter employment. I have recently been offered a job working with a popular charity. The work that I do is very rewarding and I am starting to have a different outlook on what the future may bring.
I would like to say a special thank you to Birmingham Settlement, Sourour, Louise and the all the people who attended Job Club. Everyone together made a difference, I am happy to have been involved.
Birmingham Settlement’s Development and Ageing Well teams are taking part in the eReading Rooms project pilot run by UK Online Centres. The eReading Rooms will provide a free service to promote informal learning where any topic or interest can be explored via the Internet.
These eReading Rooms aspire to put informal learning at the heart of communities, where knowledge and information can be shared to help people enhance their skills. Birmingham Settlement will be providing members of the community with the opportunity to access ‘The Learning Zone’ to learn about any topic they are interested in, from gardening to history. We will offer the latest technology for people to access the site and provide a friendly and helpful environment for their interests to grow.
This is a great way for members of the community to explore their interests and gain new knowledge and skills, but also to enhance their computer and Internet skills.
It’s been a busy time for the Development Team and our projects are progressing really well. The Job Club has really taken off and we are getting quite a few referrals from external services for CV and job search help. It is clear that this is a service that is needed in the area; we are meeting and helping a diverse range of the Aston community. One of our long standing attendees has just secured a job as a play Worker and has thanked us for all our help providing her with the tools she needed to get back to work, in a role that she wanted. In addition to this, we are aware of two other attendees have secured jobs after attending the sessions. Our sessions are busy, lively and great fun!
The team has also set up an ‘Aston Community’ Facebook page, working alongside the Aston Community Blog. It’s proved to be a great way to involve members of the community in local news, events and issues. It’s in the early stages, but we think it has the potential to really take off. So if you haven’t done so already, ‘like’ us on Facebook and share the page with people in the community. Take a look through the link: http://www.facebook.com/astoncommunity
Starting up a business in tough times: unleashing the potential of local entrepreneurs (Free event).
Wednesday 10thOctober, 2012: 13.00-16.30 at the Centre for the Aston Family
It is a gloomy and uncertain time in the UK economy. Banks are slow to invest, inflation and unemployment rates are high, and a lot of big retail names have gone under in recent months. It might seem like the worst time to start up a new business of your own!
BUT in any community there are always people who want to do things, people who have a passion – based on an idea, a skill, a hobby or an interest – that they could turn into a business. All they need is a little help, someone to support them, to break down the barriers to success. This workshop will help you start to do just that.
What can you expect from the day?
An opportunity to hear about starting a business, the different ways people approach it and the simple things you can do to help yourself.
- Your starting point
- A checklist to consider
- Your business plan demystified
- Developing your idea
- Who is out there to help?
- Help is closer than you think
- Taking your first steps
- Ways to experience what it might be like
- What can you learn before you start
- How will you deal with competition
Who is this event for?
This event is for everyone who is looking to learn more about how they can start up a small business, or grow their current business, in tough economic times. You might be interested in starting up a business yourself, or looking to learn some useful tips and techniques to help others. All are welcome.
If you are interested in how to start a new business where you live in Birmingham please contact firstname.lastname@example.org – if you have any questions about the event please email email@example.com.
Tashala has been involved with Birmingham Settlement for over a decade and has used multiple services provided by us. “I got to know Birmingham Settlement originally when I took a course to develop basic skills. I later began using the Nursery to help with raising my daughter. I had been using the shop in Erdington for a while but at the time I didn’t realise they were part of the same thing. I went in after completing my course and began volunteering.” Tashala volunteered in our shops in Erdington, Wylde Green and occasionally Sutton Coldfield.
From there Tashala’s experience grew and she started to get more involved, she told us. “The shop was a great way to buy affordable things for my daughter. She was the best dressed child in school! Going into the shop allowed me to get away from things and was and is a great place to take my kids.”
“I later encountered financial issues and sought money advice from Birmingham Settlement too. The help they gave me was fantastic. Thirty minutes of advice did so much compared to other help I’ve received. It was a lot of stress because it’s difficult when looking for help. They sorted it all out and made me like I didn’t need to worry.”
“I’ve been involved with Birmingham Settlement since before my daughter could walk, and now she loves it too.” Having recently turned fourteen, Tashala’s daughter now volunteers with us in our shop in Erdington too.
Tashala found a job whilst volunteering with us and has since stopped volunteering , but she still help out when she can.
“Birmingham Settlement helped me a lot. The charity is very dear to me and my daughter and helped me to believe in myself.”
Geraldine has recently begun volunteering in one of our offices supporting our Money Advice service with administration as well as helping on reception. We spoke to Geraldine about her experiences with us so far.
What made you want to volunteer in the first place?
“I wanted a change in career. Due to health problems I had been working in a low-stress environment, mostly in cleaning, and catering over the last 15 years. As I got better I completed. As I got better I completed a course and the provider pointed me towards voluntary work.”
What do you like and dislike about volunteering with us?
“The experience has been very positive. I feel like I’m learning all the time everyday, gaining more valuable experience. Everybody is very friendly. Being unemployed is very isolating so it’s nice to be near people. I tried really hard to think of something bad to tell you to help other volunteers who might follow but I couldn’t think of anything. It’s been such a good opportunity to learn because it’s work I would really like to do and it’s hard to break into the area because when you’re looking for a job they always want experience. It’s hard to find that first job to give you a chance to develop your skills.”
How did you feel about the training/support you were given here?
“First of all I was given all the basic knowledge I needed and it was very helpful to get started. Everybody is very patient and supportive here. I’m always asking questions and everybody is willing to help me. Sometimes you just have to learn as you’re going along as you need to know so much to be on reception, but everybody has been very supportive. It might be easier for someone already with experience. I do feel the training and support is good. It’s a very nice atmosphere to work in.”
Do you use any Birmingham Settlement’s other services?
“I went to the Job Club recently and it was very interesting. I’ve had advice from other agencies before but I really learned a lot. I had one-to-one advice to help me with positive thinking and how to prepare for interviews, as well as using LinkedIn. At home I look at example questions, but it was really helpful and more realistic to be with someone and actually practice answering the important questions I could be asked.”
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with us?
“I’m very happy with it so far. I enjoy coming into work everybody. I appreciate the great opportunity I’ve been given.”
“My name is Tristan and I have been on a six week placement at Birmingham Settlement. It has been a great experience learning new skills and meeting new people. I have done a wide range of admin duties and have worked with the Fundraising and Communications team mainly. I use a database called Harlequin to input data entry like client donation sheets for Gift Aid. The duties I have been doing include:
- Learning what Gift Aid is,
- Inputting new donors on the database,
- Gift Aid donation sheets in a spreadsheet,
- Making judgements about what information to include.
- Mystery Shopper feedback sheets in a Word document,
- I put letters and booklets in envelopes to be posted,
- I also phoned some of the charity shops to get information for donor sheets,
- I learned about the importance of financial codes/campaigns for post etc to help monitor/report where money has come from and gone,
- I got taught how to upload pictures and videos on the blog and on the Birmingham settlement website as well.
- I learned about ways of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) including adding links and tags to posts to the blog.
- I learned about customising privacy settings and using features such as ‘embargo’ to decide what people can see.
- I learned about different tools and software to help set up and run a website.
It has been a worthwhile thing to do. I have enjoyed my time here and I have gained some new knowledge about the different systems they use in the office for each team as well.”
Head of Development, Meena Bharadwa and I set off for a very humid London on Tuesday to share UK Online’s celebration of one million learners accessing the internet. The afternoon was kindly hosted by Facebook’s UK office and we had a great tour of what goes on there. Facebook’s Director of Policy chatted about the importance of the work that UK Online Centres do in helping to reduce social exclusion across the country and UK Online’s Managing Director, Helen Milner provided an inspiring insight into the work that’s already been carried out, compelling us towards another million! To see more about the impact that this work is having in the UK check out Helen Milner‘s blog. It was a great day all round and we met some fantastic organisations involved in this work like Action Acton. We chatted to one of their volunteers who had previously been a UK Online learner. He saw so much value in what Action Acton do that he now volunteers to support other people get online and involved. Birmingham Settlement is a registered UK Online Centre and we’ve got some great stories like the one below about how people are benefiting from a bit of support to get online.
Birmingham Settlement’s Job Club has gotten off to a great start! Launching on 17th April it’s already been immensely popular and had a good attendance each week. So far our volunteers have been helping people to complete application forms and looking at the possible criteria that employers might use for short-listing.
If you’re looking for work and want to refine your CV, develop great interview skills or want to find out how the Internet and digital technology can support your job search come along to find out more. Our netWORK sessions will look specifically at using social media and digital tools to portray a positive image of yourself and help you to connect with potential employers in new ways.
If you’ve got skills you would like to share then we’re also looking for volunteers to support the delivery of Job Club sessions. We’re particular looking for people who have some experience in IT, but anybody who has some knowledge they would like to share can help out.
The Job Club runs every Tuesday from 1pm-3pm at the Centre for the Aston Family.
For further information about the Job Club please contact Sourour Trevelyan on 0121 250 0771 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Community Development team are currently seeking three staff members to support their work out in the community. What is community development about?
Image thanks to Niall Kennedy.
Capacity-building for smaller organisations…
Image thanks to Adopt a Negotiator.
Aston and the surrounding inner city areas…
Image thanks to Elliot Brown.
Digital inclusion and how technology and social media can benefit our work…
Image thanks to Michael Surran.
Localism and how to strengthen local networks, culture and identity…
Image thanks to Nick Booth.
People and how they can make the most of their community.
Image thanks to Matthew Kenwrick.
Please see each vacancy page for further information:
- Development Manager: http://birminghamsettlement.org.uk/vacancy/development-manager/
- Development Officer: http://birminghamsettlement.org.uk/vacancy/development-officer/
- Development Assistant: http://birminghamsettlement.org.uk/vacancy/development-assistant/