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Nearly 200 local residents have already benefited from a new back to work programme running across south London.

The work and health programme, known as Better Working Futures, is a £14m programme funded by five councils (South London Partnership) and ESF to help unemployed residents in Richmond, Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton, get back into work.

Launched in March 2018, the programme is being delivered by Reed in Partnership, a leading UK recruitment and training company, who offer one to one advice and support, specifically helping people with disabilities, health conditions, long-term unemployment and other barriers to employment. REED in Partnership work with each council to ensure local expertise is drawn upon when helping people with matters such as basic skills, training, health, housing and English for speakers of other languages.

Since the programme started, REED has assisted 1304 people from across the partnership, with 191 from Richmond upon Thames. So far, 32 local people have progressed into employment, thanks to the help they have received.

Rob from Richmond, joined the Better Working Futures programme last year. He wanted to be a black cab driver, however was struggling with the ‘knowledge appearances’ - the infamous oral exams in which a prospective driver is tested on his or her ability to recall the quickest routes through London. It is notoriously hard, and Rob had an extra barrier that he has dyslexia.

Through the Better Working Futures programme, Rob worked with an employment adviser who offered support including stress management, and a hypnotherapist. Through these sessions, Rob was given the confidence and calming techniques that he needed to get through the examinations. He was awarded his licence in August 2019. Since then, Rob has also received support setting himself up as self-employed, as well as financial support to cover the costs of TfL’s medical testing and DBS check.

Rob said:

“The programme definitely helped, it is a shining light when not a lot of help is being offered.

The stress was unmanageable without the help of hypnotherapy, which I couldn’t have paid for whilst I was unemployed.

[Working] feels good. It is a learning curve and I’m learning the intricacies of it every day. I’m easing myself in. When you get this licence, there’s a quote that a lot of cabbies use: ‘It’s hard to get and easy to lose’ - so I am taking it step by step, and hopefully will have a very long career.”

Cllr Geoff Acton, Lead Member for Business for Richmond Council, said:

“Helping people get back into work is very important. Reed in Partnership are delivering the service to those who are either long term unemployed, have health problems or disabilities or face other kinds of barriers to employment.

We can already see the results! There are many people like Rob. Who want to work. But there are barriers preventing them. This programme helps them work through the issues. I hope that many more people benefit from the programme.”

For more information, go to:

– from a Richmond Council press release - 9 September 2019