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Aspire – February 2018


Charity News - AspireResponsible business in action: University College partners with Aspire to transform lives

Since 2001, Aspire Oxford has supported hundreds of our community’s most disadvantaged people to move into the world of work. We have helped to break the complex cycles of homelessness and poverty and reduced re-offending rates across Oxfordshire. Aspire is a unique organisation – we are both a social enterprise and an employment charity, and 48% of our staff have lived experience of severe disadvantage.

Reducing re-offending in Oxfordshire through employment

One of our newest projects is to work closely with local prisons to give ex-offenders specialist employment support on their release. Known as “Through the Gate”, this project is essential in preventing clients from re-offending at a critical stage in their transition. Our clients benefit from work experience on Aspire’s social enterprises alongside employment support, training and sports activities designed to build confidence and self-esteem.

As Aspire’s trainees continue their journey with us towards employment, we actively partner with businesses across Oxfordshire to give our clients the chances that they deserve. This can include work placements or paid job opportunities, and businesses are increasingly choosing to recruit from our pool of loyal, dedicated and work-ready people – who have overcome incredible adversity and are determined to turn their lives around.

University College has played a major role in Aspire Oxford’s ground-breaking work bringing responsible business to life.

Aspire University College OxfordThis is Terry’s story:

“I met Christine Rolls in Bullingdon when I was coming to the end of my custodial sentence. I had a chat with Christine where she explained in detail what Aspire offers. When I was released I attended Aspire for a day’s trial, as arranged. I really enjoyed the trial day & signed myself up for the 20 days’ work experience/CSCS training that is run by Aspire.

As well as the work and training I’m receiving, I’ve also had support to get my provisional driving licence and completed three lots of the health & safety training. Then I signed up for many of the sports activities Aspire offers its trainees.

As I’ve progressed really quickly at Aspire I was sent out to work in one of the universities, which usually is reserved for trainees that have worked longer with Aspire and who have more experience. I feel hopeful about my future.”

Terry was referred to University College in August 2017 and was offered a six month contract doing caretaking work across the college. Teresa Strike, Head of Hospitality & Accommodation talks about her experience working with Terry:

“Upon meeting Terry for the first time, it was clear he was very keen to turn his life around.

Immediately, he made real efforts to become part of our community, helping the 2 other caretakers, our lodge porters and supporting our works department. Terry is always friendly, helpful and very proactive in getting work done. The feedback from my colleagues is always positive, nothing is too much trouble and he will always get stuck into any job to get it completed professionally.

It is clear that Terry has not held down a full time job for a number of years, so we have supported him with flexible hours, enabling him to meet with his support network outside of college. I regularly catch up with Terry and check he is ok, ensuring I am aware of any issues and giving him opportunities to ensure he can flourish in the role.

Terry is the most likeable, hardworking, friendly and helpful person I know. I think he is really happy and feels part of our team and community.”

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to University College for their ongoing partnership and support.

Aspire Oxford now offers regular employment workshops for businesses who want to recruit more flexibly, and planning is underway for our next Inclusive Recruitment Employers’ Conference on 25 April 2018 at Unipart.

You can follow Aspire on Facebook (AspireOxOnline) and Twitter (@Aspireoxford)

Find out more about Aspire by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk or on our Univ in the Community page.

Published: 2 February 2018

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