Significant Achiever of the Year – Sponsored by Learning Curve
Founded in 2004, Learning Curve Group has become one of the largest and most diverse training providers in the country, supporting individuals to develop the skills they need for long-term, meaningful careers.
From short-term online qualifications to longer-term apprenticeships and classroom-style courses, they help over 200,000 people every year upskill and achieve their goals. With a number of different models and access to over £40m of adult skills funding, they’re able to provide opportunities for people to access training fully funded, setting their customers up for success from the off.
‘Providing the platform to help people achieve their goals is so important. And when you see individuals taking hold of opportunities to progress with such vigour, it reminds you that what you’re working towards is truly transforming lives. Massive ‘well done’ to all of our significant achievers who have made the shortlist and good luck on the night!’
Steve Morris, Fellow of the institute of Employability Professionals
A specific jobseeker who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to overcoming barriers to enter and maintain work
- Kevin – nominated by Better Jobs Better Futures – Gower College Swansea
- Having fled from the terror of El Salvador with his wife and three young children, Kevin was determined to overcome the odds and secure a better future for himself and his young family. Showing unrelenting commitment to his development and seeking out every possible opportunity for self-improvement, Kevin has overcome an incredible amount of barriers and personal challenges. Kevin is an inspiring individual who demonstrates genuine passion for his craft and sheer determination to achieve his goals. In his short time living in the UK, Kevin has committed to his professional development by gaining an English GCSE, completing a Level 3 BTEC in computing to compliment his extensive experience in data analytics and gaining an additional IT qualification through a local university. Kevin has dramatically improved his employability skills and industry knowledge by seeking out opportunities to gain advice and guidance from Career Coaches and inspiring guest speakers through his college’s Digital Academy. Kevin has also gained valuable work experience and vital income for his family through his part time job as a Case and Crisis Worker. On top of the huge demands of Kevin’s commitments, he has provided his family with a safe place to live, a security they have never experienced, and real hope for the future. Kevin’s achievements are significant and we are absolutely delighted that he has secured an exceptional degree apprenticeship with a major national employer. Kevin has a learning and development plan, a stable income with a secure employer and the opportunity to do the great work he loves in a country where he and his family feel safe, loved and valued.
- Daniel – nominated by Ingeus and Momentic
- Daniel had reached rock bottom – he was experiencing anxiety and depression and at one point became suicidal. But the inspirational former football coach has now turned his life around to set up a thriving business. For 18 months Daniel had found it difficult to get out of bed, had no routine and found it difficult to make meals and drinks. He had nowhere to live and slept on a friend’s floor for five months until he found a council flat in Shaw, near Oldham. With help from a fantastic partnership – Ingeus and Momentic – Daniel has built a growing business and is a great role model for others. His life changed when he was referred to the Restart Scheme and told his Ingeus Restart adviser Amy Driscoll of his hopes to start his own business. Ingeus supported Daniel with a new laptop and funding for equipment. Amy also connected him with Ingeus partner and business start-up specialist Momentic. Momentic business adviser Jan Melia helped Daniel develop a plan and offered six months’ business mentoring for his new business: DW9 Training. He is a personal trainer for people with mental health issues and disabilities such as anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders and ADHD. Daniel also carries out performance coaching for athletes and sports people including Rugby Union teams. He teaches fitness training, nutrition and gives advice on fluid intake, protein and how to sleep. He also has online shops selling fitness clothes and dietary supplements. In the future he hopes to open his own fitness studio and form a team of staff to help with performance coaching.
- Amreet – nominated by Peabody
- Like so many mums in our community, Amreet left the workforce to raise her young children. When her youngest started school, Amreet knew she wanted to work again. She was worried though about her lack of skills and the amount of time she’d been out of the workforce. Her main barrier though, was her lack of confidence and belief in herself. With the support of Peabody’s employment service, she started a volunteering role to gain more professional experience and to build up her confidence. Within a year of hard work and determination, Amreet achieved her goal of working in business administration and now works as an Administration Assistant. She’s recently gained a promotion to provide support to the CEO of Peabody, one of the largest housing associations in the UK.
- Kim – nominated by Serco Restart Scheme
- A story about Kim. Kim had been a stay-at-home mum all her adult life to her daughter and son, who have health challenges (her eldest has cerebral palsy and youngest has behavioural challenges). She had never worked before, had no qualifications and no CV. When Kim started on the Restart Scheme she had a defeatist attitude. Kim’s Job Coach, Christina Lewis from Serco’s delivery partner, Seetec Pluss, was determined to change that and helped Kim to create a CV and coached her in all aspects of the employability process. In a parallel process, Seetec Pluss were in liaison with the local branch of the national retailer B&M and managed to ring fence three Christmas temp job roles. With the help of her Job Coach, Christina interviewed for one of the roles and was successful in securing one of the temp jobs. Kim worked hard, and this led to her securing a permanent job with B&M. Kim’s dedication to the job paid off as after a period of time, she was promoted to Supervisor which meant she had the responsibility of supporting the management of the store on a regular basis. Kim loves her job and is thriving with the new responsibility. She has also given back to the Restart Scheme, supporting Seetec Plus with events such as ‘Women’s Hour’ where she discussed her successes and journey on the Scheme to inspire other Participants. Kim also took a bigger leap forward and spoke at a training event that Seetec Plus ran at their Kidderminster office. Kim talked in detail about her journey with the Restart Scheme to over 60 people including people from local councils, Mayors and officers from the Department for Work and Pensions. Kim’s speech and manner during the presentation showed just how much Kim has grown and flourished through her journey in to work. Her professionalism and outlook on life has improved dramatically since starting with the Scheme, and even more so since being in a job that she loves.
- Darren – nominated by West Lothian Council, Supported Employment Team
- West Lothian Council, Supported Employment Service was established to provide specialist employability support to local residents with additional support needs, health conditions or a disability who face additional barrier to finding and sustaining employment. Our council recognised the need for a designated employability service. Main aim of the development of the service was to improve the lives of disabled or ASN residents in West Lothian through access to meaningful employment opportunities. The impact on individual’s well-being and sense of self cannot be quantified, but their increased confidence and the diversity they bring to the local workforce is something which benefits the whole community. The service also advises local employers regarding recruitment support or retaining existing employees, equality and diversity and disability confidence. Individuals work one to one with staff to identify barriers and are offered an individually tailored solution to move them towards paid employment. This will be different for everyone. Since inception the team have developed appropriate group sessions as well as individual training to build employability confidence as well as a range of practical skills. Supported Employment provide a full range of employability services as well as job coaching, ongoing in-work support including future support if participants want to move to another job in the future. The service also supports local employers to recruit or retain staff who develop additional support needs, health issues or a disability by providing advice around reasonable adjustments and current legislation in relation to equality, diversity and inclusivity. Through employer engagement, the service secures partnerships with local businesses to offer participants work experience or work trails. Always developing, the service delivers new initiatives and works to build strong relationships with the wider business community always promoting the benefits of employing a diverse workforce that reflects local communities and society in general.
- Todd – nominated by the Down’s Syndrome Association
- 32-year-old Todd was interested in construction and had been persistently looking for a work experience placement. With the support of a local employer, Martyn Coles from Coles Scaffolding, and the Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit Programme, he is now in a permanent paid role as a Scaffolding Apprentice, and is working towards becoming a fully qualified Scaffolder, in what could be a UK first for someone who has Down’s syndrome. Todd has a strong work ethic and is a contributing member of the team. He is inspirational to others who have learning disabilities and want to pursue a profession. Martyn, of Coles Scaffolding commented, “Todd is single-handedly changing attitudes just by being himself. Having Todd on site with the team is brilliant, he’s a good presence, a hard worker, all the customers like him. He is such an inspiration to others.” Todd is an active member of Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group and has presented at the Downs Syndrome Association’s WorkFit events to explain the benefits of work and inspire other group members to consider work. He is also active in fundraising, having recently taken part in a charity boxing match to raise money for the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group. Todd truly is an inspiration, having persistently broken-down barriers with the support of his employer, to progress in his career.
- Paul – Genius Within CIC
- Paul has always had Tourette’s Syndrome. In his early years it manifested in small ways such as throat clearing and small motor tics. As a child he would fidget, had trouble listening, and had trouble completing tasks. In school he was labelled a troublemaker, disruptive, lazy, the class clown, or stupid. He was placed in ‘remedial class’ despite having some of the highest attainment levels at the school.
When Paul was 46 he experienced PTSD leading to his tics ‘exploding’, increasing in severity and regularity. When he received his Tourette’s diagnosis, he was also diagnosed with ADHD, OCD, and sensory processing disorder. In his words, he was ‘told what was wrong with him’. He didn’t leave the house for three months. His life turned upside down. He had to give up work due to the tics because the physical tics were causing him injuries. When he wanted to go back to work, employers were reluctant to give him a chance. They did not understand his verbal tics and were not willing to take a ‘risk’ in employing him. Paul spent 16 years unemployed.
Paul met Nancy from Genius Within in 2016. He was given a positive assessment, where his strengths, qualities and skills were mapped out. In his words, again, he found out ‘what was right with him.’ The initial positive assessment, plus coaching and support sessions taught him to capitalise on his unique strengths and qualities. He learned that focussing on a skill/activity helps to manage the severity of his tics. For Paul, his love and talent for photography provided that space and respite from his Tourette’s. Paul is now an award-winning photographer, public speaker and Tourette’s activist. He uses his unique position to raise awareness and offers solidarity to young people who are struggling with their diagnosis.
- Steven – nominated by Recro Consulting
- Steven (name changed) was referred to us by a Southwest JCP as part of a small group of people suffering with mental health issues. When we first met Steven, he was at a low ebb and had been for a couple of years. He’d moved to a new area with his partner and two children and had been living in a council property. His relationship had broken down and unfortunately, he became homeless and was initially on the streets for 4 weeks. He finally found a place to stay in a Half-way-house. The year that followed, Steven was depressed, distraught and distressed. The House was difficult to live in with many disturbances and he couldn’t see a way out of his situation, felt incredibly down about his personal situation, had lost hope and admitted to feeling very bitter and sad. He couldn’t foresee looking for work until he found a new home. Steven had been in care since he was five and also has learning difficulties, and has a poor memory, meaning he struggles to navigate systems such as a housing bidding system and representing himself. Steven flourished on the programme, the group sessions started to build his confidence and motivation, he got on well with others and he knew he wanted to be back out to work again. Steven got a job working for a building contractor and is now in sustained employment earning over £2,000 per month. He’s delighted in his role and is so pleased to be working in an environment that suits him. With money coming in, he’s now able to re-look at his housing situation and will make an improvement in this area too.
- Lisa – Riverside Training
- London-born Lisa is now settling into Lincolnshire life after support to overcome her confidence issues by a local training provider. Lisa hasn’t worked for more than ten years due to her Fibromyalgia, arthritis and lupus. It left her confidence at rock bottom, but with the support of Gainsborough-based Riverside Training she is on the road to a better life and a new career. Lisa has undertaken a variety of different courses and taken part in work experience opportunities to build her confidence and self-esteem to levels she is comfortable with. And having seen the impact a positive mindset can have on her, she is now setting up a new peer-to-peer support group in the town to help other people in similar situations.
- Frederick – nominated by Hackney Works (Supported Employment)
- When first engaging with the Hackney Works team in 2018, Frederick was suffering from depression, was long term unemployed for nearly a decade, in financial debt and homeless. His confidence was incredibly low and he himself felt it was highly unlikely he would be able to secure employment. In the space of a few years, Fred is now working as an Assistant Restaurant Manager in a high-end Hackney based restaurant and has a home, and has cleared his debts. He has show incredible resiliance, determination and character.
- Heather – nominated by Fedcap Scotland
- Heather’s achievements in the workplace over the past year have transformed her life and that of her family. She’s achieved permanent employment status, been trained and promoted at a world-renowned drinks manufacturer. But until last year, Heather was too depressed and terrified to even leave her front door – and had not gone out to work for 17 years. The 54-year-old had suffered years of depression, anxiety and financial hardship after her son was stillborn, unable to leave the house and afraid she’d never work again. Her “incredible” journey to sustainable employment started after Fedcap Scotland supported her and encouraged her to apply for a temporary post at Diageo. “I never saw a future before, no sort of life outside my house and with my depression and anxiety controlling me,” said Heather. “I’m now a full Diageo employee. I’ve got a pension scheme, a good one, and I’ll get a little something when I retire. I get money, every month! I’m in a share save and I’m meeting people, making friends. I now have a future for me and my family.” The confidence Heather has gained from becoming a much-valued employee has led to her joining new activities, such as swimming in the sea with colleagues who have quickly become firm friends. And she has inspired them through her new-found commitment to keeping fit, losing nine stones! She also married her partner of 33 years. “Fedcap helped me get my life back,” she said. Heather’s story has inspired, colleagues and jobseekers, with Fedcap CEO Brian Bell, commenting: “Heather is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. “Finding sustainable employment has completely transformed her life and that of her family. “Heather’s achievements embody what this sector is all about – she is the reason we do what we do.”