Five interns graduate from our award-winning Supported Internships programme

Posted on June 25th, 2019 by Laura Pickett

Yesterday, at our Torrington Office, five interns graduated from the award-winning Supported Internships programme.

The interns started working throughout our organisation in September last year and completed their nine-month placement on Monday this week.

Callum Klapatyj, Arun Sharma and Adrian Townshend have all completed internships with our Estates and Services Team, while Matthew Davis has worked alongside the Finance Team and Andrew in the Engagement Team.

Our Supported Internship programme is in partnership with Hereward College, in Coventry. Each intern has a job coach from Hereward College who supports them and helps them flourish throughout their placement with us.

The project has been running for three years and to date has helped five people secure permanent employment across our organisation.

The graduate celebration ceremony yesterday brought everyone together to celebrate all that has been achieved throughout the last nine months and our Director of Business Improvement and Engagement, Will Walker, was on hand to present everyone with their certificates.

Claire Hardwick, our Head of Customer Involvement and Engagement, said: “Yesterday was such a fantastic day. It was great to get everyone together and celebrate all their achievements.

“The Supported Internships have allowed everyone to gain skills, confidence and work experience throughout the last nine months.”

“They have all done a great job and wish them all the best in the future!”

Callum, who has completed his Internship in our Estates and Services Team, said: “I found the Internship really useful. It’s been fantastic to get hands on experience in a working environment.

“The team at Citizen and Hereward College couldn’t have been more helpful. I can’t thank them enough for all their support.”

Paul Cook, Principal at Hereward College, added: “It’s always a pleasure working with Citizen, an employer who feels as strongly about getting young people into employment as we do.

“The students who have graduated today should be very proud of their achievements throughout their supported internship. A huge thanks to everyone who has supported them along the way.”

Our Supported Internships programme won the 24housing Award for Best Apprenticeship Scheme last year.

A further five Supported Interns have been recruited to start this September across the organisation. These students will be working in the Estates and Services Team, our Engagement and Facilities Team.

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We are running a scheme to help people who are struggling with employment opportunities in Coventry

Posted on June 25th, 2019 by Laura Pickett

Our ConnectMe scheme helps people gain useful skills and gives them the chance to apply for fixed term placements with Citizen.

The scheme provides great opportunities for a variety of people including over 50s but can help anyone who is unemployed, over 16 and has a legal right to work in the UK.

ConnectMe has been set up to help anyone in the CV1 to CV6 postcodes, including residents of Citizen.

It gives applicants a bespoke action plan which identifies their individual barriers to work.

Employment coaching is also offered along with one to one and group sessions to help develop skills. Workshops are held on key skills such as CV writing, job searching, interview skills and managing money.

Six-week voluntary work experience placements that have been approved by the job centre are also offered. People can apply for 12 and 18 month paid placements with Citizen.

Our Head of Customer Involvement and Engagement, Claire Hardwick, said: “This is a fantastic scheme to help people gain the skills they need to find employment. Our six-week work experience and paid for placements help provide a stepping stone to the future.

“So far we have helped several people gain employment opportunities through the scheme and the workshops have also helped boost their confidence.”

“The scheme is open to residents in Coventry and people who would like a bit of extra help with employment should get in touch.”

The scheme is European Social Fund matched – money is set aside by the European Union to support employment schemes across EU member states.

The scheme aims to help 146 people by the end of this year.

Bhupinder Birdee, 48, is one of the residents who has been helped by the scheme.

She was forced to give up work after a breast cancer diagnosis and had been out of work for five years.

She applied for the ConnectMe scheme and took part in a workshop about interview skills.

After completing this, she applied for a year’s placement in our lettings department at Coventry.

She said: “I saw the notice for ConnectMe as I live near one of the Citizen offices.

“I couldn’t get a reference as I hadn’t worked for five years due to breast cancer.

“I phoned up and went to see Michael Clarke from the Citizen Money Advice team. He told me what ConnectMe is all about.

“I then did work experience with Citizen for six to eight weeks.”

Bhupinder said the ConnectMe scheme has helped her to gain confidence and she was able to apply for a position in our lettings department.

She said: “I found it daunting trying to remember everything when coming back to work and working at specific times.

“ConnectMe has given me the confidence to come back into work and think about where I might go in the future.”

“I’m proud of myself that I did this, coming from not working at all to being able to do something.

“I was amazed at the amount of support from Citizen.

“I would totally encourage somebody to go for this scheme.”

Dean Atkinson from Coventry City Council adds: “This is a great scheme to help people into work who have struggled with employment.

“Several people have been helped by the successful scheme so far and it is so rewarding to see people gain employment.

“Anyone who would like to get involved in the scheme should get in touch.”

To get involved with the scheme call 0300 790 6533 or email

Alternatively, people can speak to their Job Centre Plus work coach and quote opportunity reference number CFA/66719 and PRO-153997.

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Birmingham residents attend street food event combating social isolation and loneliness

Posted on June 6th, 2019 by Laura Pickett

Residents living in Birmingham high rises attended a street food festival yesterday organised to combat social isolation and loneliness as part of a new scheme called ‘Fancy a Brew?’.

We were awarded £60,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to run the Fancy a Brew project for the next two years, in partnership with Groundwork West Midlands, which will target residents living in Birmingham high rises.

Those living in Clydesdale Tower attended the event where traders offered Caribbean food and drinks to encourage tenants to eat together, make new friends and have a conversation.

Our Community Engagement Manager, Elaine Shirley, says: “We are so pleased to be involved in this project which helps tackle social isolation among our residents.

“We had so many people turn up to the first event and many conversations were started with people living in the same block – and we hope this means they will have someone to talk to in future.

“Of the 500 who live in the two tower blocks 64% are male and 71% live alone.

“A recent consultation with the residents living there showed they wanted more opportunities to meet their neighbours and take part in local activities – and this project helps to do that.”

In the first year the project will focus on residents from Clydesdale Tower and Cleveland Tower, then in the second year it will focus on residents in three low-rise blocks nearby including Avon House, Lansdown House and Nash House.

The activities will be held weekly and can be anything from informal coffee mornings to cinema trips and football matches.

Resident, Patricia Powell, aged 83, says she found the event beneficial: “Sometimes when you live in tower blocks it is easy to feel socially isolated as you often walk upstairs to your own flat and don’t see anyone.

“This event was great to attend. I met some of the people who live in the tower block with me and I feel that I will be able to strike up a conversation with them in future.”

“Fancy a Brew is a really good scheme to help tackle social isolation and I am looking forward to seeing what other events there are to get involved in.”

Manager of Groundwork West Midlands, Jo Elward, says: “The event was a great success and has allowed us to find out what residents would like to do in the future too.

“We’re so glad the event has been well received and are looking forward to many events in the future which will help to tackle social isolation.

“Even though the events are targeted at the over 50s, anyone who would like to join in is welcome.”

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