Getting back into employment scheme is working well despite the pandemic

A University of Northampton-backed initiative has continued helping people from hard to reach groups get back into work, despite the pandemic.

Working Progress is a national project providing funding to organisations who steer people from groups such as those who have a disability or are over 50 toward employment, training, education or volunteering opportunities.

Many of the participants report other issues that have led to people finding it impossible to even get to the point of starting to look for a job, such as mental health issues, developmental disorders such as autism and domestic abuse. Unemployment across Northamptonshire is estimated at around 4.6%.

Working Progress Northamptonshire has been co-delivered by the University’s Research and Innovation directorate and partner organisation Commsortia since 2016.*

The University work behind the scenes helping local organisations put in bids for funding, building their capacity and ensuring that everything is running well.

As part of on-going evaluation, the University’s Institute for Social Innovation and Impact has published its latest report looking at the impact of Working Progress Northamptonshire.

The report evaluates the programme between August 2020 and July 2021, finding multiple benefits to project participants and the wider economy and employment landscape:

  • Enabled 122 people to take part in training and 48 people to enter employment or re-enter education. They reported increased self-efficacy, confidence, motivation and wellbeing.
  • The maximum potential social impact from August 2020 to July 2021 was more than £633,058. This includes an estimated £135,540 reduction in welfare payments and increases in Tax of £34,752 and National Insurance of £32,578.

The project was due to run until the beginning of next year but has now been extended by another year to allow us to further support more individuals.

Dr Claire Paterson-Young, Senior Researcher in Social Innovation and Impact, led on the research into Working Progress Northamptonshire. She said: “Across the project, we are absolutely delighted with the successes of our Working Progress participants. The project is all about them, so knowing they are on the road to more fulfilling and healthier lives has made compiling the report a joy.

“This is even more remarkable given the knock-on effect of the pandemic, with less volunteering and employment options available. The social impact of Working Progress is likewise considerable with obvious economic benefits. We welcome people reading the report to see this for themselves.

“The team are very happy Working Progress has been extended for another year, allowing us the chance to further improve how we work and to support even more individuals.”

* This project is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

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