Single Parent Employment Pathway

Posted 12th May 2017
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Key Project Information
Project Name: Single Parent Employment Pathway
Lead Organisation: Gingerbread
ESF value: £661,046
Duration: January 2016 – December 2018
Contact: Steve Harding

Project summary
This project aims to give single parents the skills and confidence to access employment, education and training. All support is tailored to the needs of the participant and is followed by a two-week placement at a top UK employer, including Marks and Spencer and Royal Mail.

Four days of training are delivered by Gingerbread experts, including confidence building and work skills. All expenses are covered, such as childcare, lunch and travel and placements/training only take place during school hours.

Participants can then access volunteering and training schemes with organisations such as Merseyside Children’s Centre and Tomorrow’s Women. They also receive support in finding employment through job clubs, help with CV writing, application forms and interview skills. Participants are also given relevant educational support via organisations such as Blackburne House, Riverside Housing, Learn Direct, etc.

The project is delivered by Gingerbread.

Key Outputs / Results
460 single parents will be supported through this project.

Beneficiary Experiences




Esther O’Hare was referred to the Merseyside Works programme from Norris Green Jobcentre in August and we undertook an assessment to identify her main barriers to work.

Esther is a single parent of 4 children, has been out of work 24 years and has suffered with health condition such as epilepsy, glaucoma and nephrotic syndrome.

When meeting Esther, we identified that her main barrier to work was her lack of confidence in her own ability, rather than her health conditions. Esther was given a place on the Gingerbread pre-employment course that took place at Blackburne house in September and the course brought together a group of 8 single parents looking for work with similar backgrounds. The group environment helped Esther recognise she was not the only person in her position and she had other people to relate to, and this helped with her confidence as the course progressed.

Esther was then placed at Marks & Spencer in Aintree and was supported by Gingerbread and M&S coaches whilst on her two-week placement. Esther was also given support her with her uniform, travel expenses and childcare. Whilst on her placement Esther received fantastic feedback from Marks & Spencer and they offered her a job! The project then provided funding for Esther to obtain a birth certificate, as this was a requirement for the job.

On the last day of her placement Esther accepted a fixed term 16 hours per week contract with Marks & Spencer until April 2017, and started work on 4 October 2017.

Esther said “I have had an enjoyable and amazing experience and can’t believe I could do it! This programme has given me the confidence in my own ability to return to work”.

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Dan came to Gingerbread following a referral from the job centre.

He had brought up his son on his own and had also been a carer for his elderly mother, before she passed away. Due to this, Dan had very little work history and apart from some ad hoc guitar teaching and DJ work, he had been unemployed for 16 years. His son was now 18, so he was able to work and was no longer restricted by his caring duties. Dan was becoming very frustrated with applying for work, but not even getting interviews. He was so keen to get into work and was open to any suggestions. He basically wanted to work any hours, anywhere as long as he could get there and was willing to give anything a go. In order to get some experience on his CV, Dan initially went on a placement with Royal Mail. The feedback from this placement was brilliant and gave Dan some recent experience and also the belief that he could get back into work. Dan attended Gingerbread job club in Birkenhead where he was supported to rewrite his CV, so that it stood out, as his old CV was very basic and Dan had no previous support in CV writing or applying for jobs. At this point, he was about to go on the work programme and was becoming increasingly anxious about finding work.

Gingerbread arranged some interviews for him, to help him improve his interview technique. We arranged for him to go on a Marks and Start placement at the Bromborough Simply Food store and Dan started his placement on the 6th Feb 2017.

Gingerbread let the store know that Dan had previous experience from before his son was born of working in a warehouse and was keen to work in the back of the store. He completed his placement successfully and was offered a vacancy starting straight away. The feedback from the store was that Dan was an asset to the team, everybody liked working with him, he was hard working, keen to learn and willing to go the extra mile. Dan just needed a chance to show he could do the job because his lack of work history was holding him back. He is loving his new role so far and said it’s great to be back in some kind of routine and he feels like he’s got his identity back after spending so long caring for others.

Dan said “My experience of M&S was that they are very welcoming to new members joining them on a Gingerbread placement, from very early on I was made to feel like a valued team member, always being thanked for my involvement in the days work. This has given me great confidence in my work and ability towards gaining future employment.”

“The Marks and Start project I feel has changed my life for the better in a very short time. I have gained more confidence and self respect and now have a view to a life beyond unemployment.
My plans for the future would ideally be to gain permanent employment with M&S in the role I am currently working with a view to advancement through the learning/training they offer to employees.”

“The Marks and Start project through Gingerbread I think has been fantastic. I have since the beginning of it had lots of support from Lynne and Laura- their guidance and training I feel has been invaluable towards me gaining work and a life beyond the uncertainty and misery of unemployment and for that I cannot thank them and the project enough.”

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