ERSA Employability Awards – 13 May, London

08th May 2013

Manchester Cathedral’s Volunteer Programme Manager, Lauren Bailey-Rhodes, has been shortlisted for Advisor of the Year in the inaugural ERSA Employability Awards.

The awards, sponsored by Interserve Working Futures, attracted nearly 170 entries from across the UK.  The entries were judged by Sarah Neville from the Financial Times, Matthew Oakley from Policy Exchange, and Julia Sweeney from the Department for Work & Pensions.

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the trade body for organisations delivering or with an interest in employment related services – sometimes called welfare to work.  Established in 2005, they exist to help members achieve their shared goal: to help people gain sustainable employment.

The Cathedral Volunteer Programme, launched in April 2012 in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, aims at linking unemployed people with jobs through exploring their heritage and gaining new skills through volunteering.  The programme is supported by a number of high profile employers in the city such as Hilton Hotels, Harvey Nichols, The Manchester Arndale, VirginMoney and Crowne Plaza Hotel, Manchester City Centre.  Employers offer guaranteed interviews to job-ready volunteers, interview workshops, suit donations and careers talks.

Lauren provides 1-1 support to all the volunteers, helping them to overcome the barriers preventing them from gaining employment such as personal hygiene, unstable housing, lack of experience, language skills and, of course, all aspects of job searching.

Anthony O’Connor, Volunteer Programme Director at Manchester Cathedral said “It was important for us at the outset that people chose to join this programme rather than feeling it is something they’ve been mandated to do.  It creates a different mind-set and you find that the volunteers are much more productive.  Our promise to each group is that we do everything we can to help them to find work; in addition, no volunteer needs to leave this programme until they have gained employment.  This is the unique feature of this programme compared to other initiatives”.

The Very Reverend Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester said “I am delighted that Lauren and this programme have been nominated for this award.  We have been truly amazed at the result this programme is achieving for the people of Greater Manchester and I am so pleased that the Cathedral is able to play such a vital role”

John Skilling, a Group 4 Volunteer, said “The programme is a brilliant opportunity.  Before joining I felt like I wasn’t getting very far in finding a job that suits me and I that I enjoy.  It has given me the drive that I needed to get out there and do something positive.  It’s been brilliant to meet new people and rediscover the skills that we all have.  I’m looking forward to the future again and I am very grateful that have been given the chance to get involved in this experience.”