Project to help women into work wins top award

The Skills Show 2014 - European Social Fund

The WISH project which has helped over a hundred women across London back into work or training has been awarded the Equal Opportunities Mainstreaming Leader Award for specialist project by the European Social Fund.

WISH is a joint venture between Catalyst Housing and East Thames, delivering training and support across London to economically inactive women. WISH helps the most vulnerable in society who can fall through the gaps in existing local and national provisions.

The WISH project has been built with the appreciation that all participants are different with varying levels of skills and often multiple barriers. With the backing of two social housing providers, WISH is able to identify the wider effects gender inequality can have on the economically inactive when job hunting. It was also possible to create jobs within the established supply chains and broader networks of these two large housing providers. With strong connections across London WISH has supported over 100 participants to progress and engage with mainstream provision in the form of further intensive job search or training activities.

WISH has been able to guide women into work by removing traditional barriers, these include; travel costs, childcare, as well as offering one off payments for work specific items for those guaranteed a job such as DBS check costs. WISH is also able to link service delivery to already established welfare reform and financial inclusion programmes.  A dedicated team of advisers was also provided for multi lingual participants and as well as female advisers to adhere to cultural practices where women may not want to work directly with men.

Judith, a resident of Ealing, had been unemployed for a number of months. This situation was far from ideal as she has six children to support. Getting a job was her best option.

The WISH team at Catalyst Gateway helped Judith update her CV, look for jobs and fill in application forms.

“I was down in the dumps. The guys at the centre treated me with a lot of respect. When I got fed up looking for jobs they supported me through the process.”

After three months Judith got her dream job as a support worker.

Kerry Starling, head of employment and skills:

‘Through WISH the team have made a real impact of people’s lives  and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to see the women we work with grow in confidence. This award is fantastic recognition, not only of the work we have done but all those that have achieved a new life goal by taking part in the project.’