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North Wales Regional Engagement Team Newsletter


# 33 (September 2022)

Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to the newsletter from the North Wales Regional Engagement Team (RET)

The North Wales Regional Engagement team aims to help maximise the impact of EU funding across Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey. The Regional Engagement Team helps ensure E U funding proposals meet existing & future opportunities and investments throughout the region.

This newsletter show cases some of the projects that have benefited from EU funding across the region demonstrating the importance they are to the growth of North Wales and making a more prosperous innovative & productive economy that is SMART > RESILIENT > CONNECTED following the themes in the North Wales Growth Vision.

Focusing on retaining young people, increasing employment levels and skills to achieve inclusive growth

In this edition you will find real life case studies from various operations across North Wales. The stories reflect the excellent work being delivered across the region and the impact of this work on people’s lives.  

Serco Restart Scheme: Working in partnership across Wales to get people back into employment

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Restart Scheme in Wales marked it first anniversary in June 2022.  The Restart Scheme is part of the Government’s wider ‘Plan for Jobs’ programmes to help people develop their skills so they can find long-term meaningful employment. 
Serco, who has been chosen to deliver the Restart Scheme in Wales works with 11 Employability Service Providers and a trusted network of local, regional and national partners to deliver local, personalised support to help individuals overcome challenges that they may face in finding long-term sustainable work.
In North Wales specifically, there are four delivery partners: Maximus, Mon CF, North Wales Training and People Plus.  Each of these service providers work with Restart Scheme Participants for up to 12-months and offer a range of employability skills support, as well as helping them overcome any additional barriers that impact their journey to employment. 

Meaningful Partnerships Provide Better Outcomes

Serco’s Restart Scheme Partnership Team is responsible for developing links between the service providers and local, regional and national services which includes a wide range of support to offer Participants such as help with health issues, housing, CV writing and much more. Angela Watt - Serco’s Partnership Coordinator - has linked in with number of ESF funded projects, as they can add value to the work that the service providers offer.  She has held several ‘Meet the Service’ events where local organisations are able to tell the service providers about the support that they offer and explain any eligibility criteria. 
Through networking at the ‘Meet the Service’ events, the Restart Scheme Service Providers have been able to refer their unemployed Participants into ‘Active Inclusion’ projects which provide them access to engagement activities and presentations given by a range of providers such as Go North Wales Hospitality, the Tourism Inclusion Project, TAPE Community Music and Films Creative Sparks, and Creating Enterprise Passport Programmes.


Following on from one of these sessions, Alice Kirwan - Employer Relationship Manager for partner service provider People Plus - contacted the Go North Wales Active Inclusion Project and arranged a course for Participants on the Restart Scheme who were interested in a career in hospitality or tourism.  The course covered everything from understanding tourism in North Wales to confidence building and goal setting.  As a result, two people secured interviews, of which one got a job offer and another took up a voluntary role to gain additional experience. 

Jim Jones, CEO for North Wales Tourism, said

“We were delighted when the Restart Scheme, through Angela Watt and Alice Kirwan, took an interest in our course and signposted a number of long-term unemployed individuals to us. We believe this interaction has led to a very positive outcome for the individuals and also a start of a great relationship with the Restart Scheme.” 

Service providers have also been able to access support through the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus Programme.  This programme has helped people with a range of barriers to employment including buying affordable smart clothes for interviews and uniforms required for work, access to foodbanks, skills development training and confidence building. 
Feedback about ‘Meet the Service’ events from the service providers is extremely positive, and they say that the additional support received through the joint working has helped them to assist many people get into employment.
Links have also been made with employability programmes such as Jobsense who support those with sensory loss. All service providers received details of Jobsense providers in their area to help them support any participants that may require it.
Although service providers are not able to refer people onto other employability programmes, e.g. Communities for Work (C4W) due to funding restrictions, they have worked closely with the C4W teams when planning events, such as Jobs Fairs, to ensure that they are not duplicating work and contact with employers.  Working closely with these teams has allowed greater access for participants to a wide range of employment opportunities. 
Once a participant gets a job, the service providers will stay in touch with them to offer ongoing support until they find their feet and confidence.  As part of this service, they liaise with any in-work support companies. RCS Wales are an example of such a company that presented at a ‘Meet the Service’ event to explain the in-work support that they offer to people so that they can remain, progress and thrive in employment. This can include help with anything from mental health support to career coaching.

Successful Regional Engagement Team (RET) Engagement

Angela and David Elsmere, the Restart Scheme’s Partnership Manager - regularly attend North Wales Regional Engagement Team (NWRET) meetings and have found these a great way of creating links with local organisations and services that are funded through ESF and delivered in the region. The NWRET team also organised two Restart Scheme specific meetings so that the organisations could hear about the work that the service providers were doing to support Restart Scheme participants.  These sessions are a great way to showcase the work of the service providers and to raise awareness of the valuable resources and services that the service providers can link into that adds value to the work that they do to benefit the participant.
Serco would like to take this opportunity to thank the NWRET team and all the ESF funded projects for their ongoing support during the first year of the Restart Scheme and where possible, we look forward to working together in the future.


Refugee Secures Job with Local Food Business

Mr H * arrived in the UK in August 2021 after having left his country of origin due to civil unrest. He had experience in the retail sector as he had previously run his own business as a clothing retailer.  

Mr H and his family settled in Denbighshire in December 2021 and was referred to Working Denbighshire by his support worker. He was keen to work but there were a number of challenges he was facing:
  • Mr H had had the right to work but had not received official proof of this from the home office in order to satisfy a new employer.  
  • Mr H was not aware of the process for finding work including CV’s job applications and interview techniques. 
  • Mr H still had limited English which wouldn’t have been at the standard expected within a customer service role.
  • Mr H also  had a limited understanding of the requirements of a UK workplace including cultural norms.
Mr H was the only English speaking person in his family and was consequently spending a lot of time supporting them to attend all appointments; he therefore didn’t feel he could work full time at this point.
Mr H began attending ESOL classes (English for Speakers of Other Languages)  two days per week to increase his knowledge of English and was also supported through a process of understanding the fundamentals of job searching including creating a CV, exploring recruitment websites and helping with job searches. 

Mr H was successful in getting interviews in local shops, however he was unsuccessful at interview in part due to his English skills and level of understanding in relation to social norms. 
In May 2022  his Working Denbighshire Employment Mentor heard about a local food business who was really struggling to get enough staff and explained to Mr H that although preparing food was not his initial goal, it would allow him to practice his English, gain experience in the workplace and had opportunities to move into customer service roles in the future. 

Mr H worked with his Employment Mentor, attending 1:1 mock interview sessions. They worked on how to identify words and phrases the employer will be keen to hear from any interviewee as well as identifying key skills they were asking for that he could emphasis at interview.  Mr H put a lot of effort into this and after making the application to the local food business, was successful at interview the following week.
Mr H has secured a contract for 16 hours per week at a local food business.  and began his employment on the 16th June 2022

Mr H said

"he feels really good about being employed and the people are really nice and friendly and is really happy to have it. " 

The Working Denbighshire Employment Mentor has offered ongoing support to both Mr H and his employer to ensure he settles into the new role well. 
Mr H has increased his family income and is still able to attend college to improve his English Language skills.

Cyfle Cymru - Making things possible!

I have been an alcoholic for over twenty years, binge drinking through most of it, slipping into depression, anxiety and nihilism, pushing my body and mental health to depths beyond what would constitute any idea of “living”. For years I have been unable to find the positives or purpose in life, self-medicating to counterbalance my declining mental health, unable to see, envisage or have the strength to find any other way. In my younger life I was a flair barman and a DJ, working abroad and consuming as many good times, alcohol and party drugs as I could stomach, I had years’ worth of both. I think this helped me to fall in love with “the hit”.

As I got older, i stopped taking drugs and settled into a relationship and a family, but even with a reasonably well-paid job I grew bored quickly, I was too immature to see that there was a real problem to address and began self-medicating with alcohol. I was never violent or abusive but was selfish in my own slow destruction. After some years myself and ex-partner separated mutually as I hadn’t been happy for years (although this was not her fault), and my frustration to conquer my issues had made her unhappy. My depression and drinking went into overdrive as despite the separation being what I myself wanted; the mental fallout was unbearable.

After a while, a stint in detox/rehab, plus many holidays and sick days from my work, I finally stitched myself back up best I could and settled into normality, still yet to really address the elephant in the room. Amongst family and close friends, it was official that I had a problem with alcohol, especially after i had been to detox/rehab, but I had still not understood that I had to really commit, to accept and own my situation. After a couple of years of drinking on and off my mum moved house and wanted me to move in with her. Mum was older now and after losing my stepdad was on her own. I had no desire for any kind of relationship for a while, so it made sense. In 2019 mum was diagnosed with lung cancer, and after a few months she died. I performed CPR on mum and managed to keep her going till the paramedics got there but unfortunately, we still lost her that day. Things weren’t helped by the fact that my son was there over that weekend, and he went through it too. The mental anguish of this sent me over an edge I didn’t think I would ever come back from, drinking like I never had before, finding myself in hospital 5- or 6-times last year.  I think it was through a hospital referral that I started on a structured recovery programme.

I had had a previous brief encounter with Cais but was nowhere near ready for the help at the time, and like most had to fight past the anxiety and push myself to open up and socialise. Unfortunately, even though I was finding the programme massively supportive, I was still dealing (or not dealing) with the loss of my mum and the way she went. I had applied for bereavement counselling but had to wait a while, plus on my own I found it immensely difficult to stay positive, so I ended up back in hospital through drinking. After some tests and scans they had found some scarring on my liver and even though this was minor compared to others, the idea of death had ceased to be just an idea, and could now be a possible reality, especially if I continued to drink. Eventually I had gotten to that point of two options “do I want to live or die”, I had had suicidal thoughts before, and constantly questioned and feared mortality but this was different, it was a realisation that if I truly want to live, and not just exist, then I should truly commit to it, start believing in myself and put in the work.

I started to engage as much as possible with the group, put aside any judgemental doubts of the support being offered to me, put the thought into the coursework I was doing and try to stay focused on the positives and “big picture”. I had completed the programme. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure of my direction now, but knew it had to be fresh and new, something I felt deeply about, with a sense of purpose and would bring me happiness or at least contentment. I love working with my hands, woodwork etc and had always wanted to help others, especially with misuse issues, but never really had the confidence or conviction and worried weather I had the skills. After talking to my fantastic group leader and did a bit of soul searching, I signed up for a peer mentor course which gave me a great insight into the support we can give, the benefit of lived experience, and a possible future, one beneficial to others and myself. After that my peer mentor arranged for me a volunteering position helping to pack and deliver food parcels for people in temporary accommodation. This has helped me immensely, boosting confidence, interacting, being productive and helping others.
I hope to be in a support role in the future but am enjoying the journey most of all.

CYFLE CYMRU PROJECT closed August 2022

"I do think people have to be 'ready' for the support, to prioritise it above most things, it helped me to understand that by addressing and building up my basic mental health, it made things I thought not possible, possible."



Supporting growth and jobs, creating sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits for people, businesses and communities in North Wales


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Cyffordd Llandudno
LL31 9XX

01492 574 588  
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