The cycle of long-term unemployment is being broken by Bolton at Home’s employment programme. Tenants are helped into work and are then better able to pay their rents.
What the judges said
- Bolton at Home have managed to contractualise social value. This work is about partnerships with suppliers, not just enforcing contracts.
- The programme is completely embedded within the culture of the business.
- The programme is inspiring, as it embodies an idea that can be replicated in small and large businesses up and down the country.
Good for society and for business
- Bolton at Home are breaking the cycle of long-term unemployment for families on some of Bolton’s most troubled estates by helping ‘excluded’ individuals secure long-term employment and training opportunities.
- By helping those from excluded groups to become more socially and economically active, Bolton at Home helps them sustain their tenancies and keep a roof over their heads in the long term.
- Increased income for residents means they stay in their tenancies for longer. This reduces administrative and legal costs associated with rent recovery, evictions and filling empty properties.
- The success of the programme, and its contribution to Bolton at Home’s wider employment strategy, has allowed the company to successfully apply for further employment and skills funding programmes.
Top tips from Bolton at Home
Understand employers’ recruitment needs e.g. skills, personal qualities and training requirements.
Tailor your approach to individual customers’ needs. Know their barriers and how to address them.
Don’t tie the project up in bureaucracy. It’s about building collaborative relationships with the right partners to maximise engagement with excluded groups.
Full-time employment and training opportunities are being created where they wouldn’t otherwise exist for residents on some of Britain’s most deprived housing estates, by Bolton at Home’s employment programme. Opportunities are targeted specifically at people with low confidence, low skills or poor health.
The programme involves engaging partners, contractors and suppliers to create suitable and relevant employment opportunities for people from excluded groups on estates, particularly in areas of high deprivation and low social mobility, managed by the firm.
This involves making it a condition of their contract for partner organisations to create jobs, work experience and/or training opportunities for people who are long-term unemployed and need support and an opportunity for them to overcome barriers to employment.
Bolton at Home is primarily a social housing provider, managing over 17,000 homes across Bolton. Helping residents find work empowers them, but also means they are more likely to keep up with their rent.
The programme launched in 2013 and has already helped 76 Bolton residents. Of these, 66 were found paid employment with one of Bolton at Homes’ contractors and a further 10 were helped into training or work experience.
The work programme is part of Bolton’s holistic approach to the residents that it looks after. The firm also offers help with debt and money advice, food and clothes initiatives and by helping people keep warm for less.
Although Bolton at Home is focused on providing affordable homes, managing tenancies and regenerating neighbourhoods it recognises that everyone would benefit if excluded groups living on the estates it runs engaged in work programmes with its contractors. Getting residents into work empowers people, maximises their income, delivers business benefits and uses corporate resources efficiently. This is particularly important as Bolton at Home is a not-for-profit operating in a challenging economic climate.
Bolton at Home engages with its job seeking tenants through its network of UCAN employment centres. It also has a Facebook page, uses word of mouth and offers one-to-one mentoring.
Feedback from those who have already been part of the project is used to shape the future running of the programme. For example, in some early contracts there was a mix of paid employment and work experience opportunities. Residents said missing out on paid employment opportunities, and only being offered unpaid placements, was like getting “second prize” and didn’t provide the required incentive to continue. Bolton at Home took steps to maximise the number of paid employment opportunities with contractors and tailor the work placements for more appropriate contracts or individual circumstances.
Engaging staff and stakeholders
Bolton at Home employees are engaged with the project through regular staff communications, events and internal working teams and project groups where they can shape the programme and receive bespoke training on becoming involved.
The senior managers and assistant directors are involved in the programme through a mix of formal reports, team meetings and one-to-one time.
It’s important that existing businesses and suppliers are kept engaged and this is done by showcasing the success of the programme and enabling them to help shape its development. Those already in contract are engaged through regular meetings and informal events. Potential new suppliers are told from the start that involvement in the programme is one of the stipulations to working with Bolton at Home.
What the Chair of the Judging panel said:
“Bolton at Home are instilling a culture of inclusion throughout the whole organisation, from CEO to key worker, and it’s a culture that they are extending to their supply chain. Everyone knows how hard it is to contractualise social value, but Bolton at Home have shown us that it can be done.” - Julian Critchlow, Partner, Bain & Company
What Bolton at Home's Chief Executive said:
“We’ve always made it a priority to help people living in our communities improve their employment prospects. By creatively engaging partners over the last three years, we’ve now got a track record of helping customers break through personal, social and economic barriers to prepare for work and secure actual jobs with our network of contractors and suppliers.
“We’re showing that it’s possible to help people maximise their income, sustain their tenancy and, in many cases, improve their health and wellbeing, all whilst safeguarding our resources and making savings for the public purse.” - Jon Lord, Chief Executive, Bolton at Home