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Westminster Works commenced began in April 2009 as a two year employment and training programme. The initiative was funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), and Westminster Council, and initially aimed to engage with 3,000 job seekers and assist 600 of this number to find employment.
The Octavia Foundation were part of a consortium of housing associations, charities and social enterprises that came together to tackle unemployment in the borough. Collectively, over 1,300 local residents were able to access training and paid work as a result of the project.
We successfully met or exceeded nearly all of the project targets and were delighted with the impact that the project had to the people that we worked with, but we wanted to gain a clearer understanding of the value that the project brought to the people that we worked with.
Clients who registered with the Octavia Foundation benefitted from one-to-one meetings with local advisors, help to complete applications, CV writing, workshops and a range of other useful services. The programme also worked in partnership with a number of local employers to provide volunteer work placements and employment opportunities.
The criteria for participants was:
- Westminster resident
- Unemployed or employed part-time up to 8 hours per week
- Not in full time education or in part-time education up to 16 hours per week
- Aged between 20-65
- UK citizen or have the right to work in the UK
I approached the Octavia Foundation for help with work experience and spoke to the employment advisor about which skills and experience I wanted to gain as a volunteer. I was given a three month work placement where I worked as an administrator and learned a great deal about how a housing association works.
When I applied for jobs, they helped with my applications and interview skills which I found really useful in building my confidence. I didn’t expect that I could get a job in such a short space of time, but I am thankful to the Octavia Foundation and Westminster Works for helping me to secure this position and begin my career.
Telka Chambers, Westminster Works participant
In 2012, we undertook a social return on investment study to best understand the impact and value of our employment and training work as part of the Westminster Works programme. The report revealed that for every £1 invested in the project, more than £4.12 was generated in benefit for the local community.
Assessment and evaluation of our projects and activities is a key priority for us, but for some time we have been keen to explore new, more innovative ways to measure the impact and value of our work.
The SROI framework seemed an attractive and practical way to better understand the return of our projects and were committed to investing time and resource to apply the method to our employment and training programmes.
Reena Mukherji, Director