Meet the team behind the scenes at Progress Housing Group - Progress Futures
Progress Futures is a free service that helps tenants and their families access volunteering, training or education and improve their employment prospects, moving them into sustainable careers.
Polly Patel - Progress Futures Manager
Claire Goodworth, Cathy Fleet, Katie Hockley, Laura Cooper and Phil Wright - Progress Futures Officers
Above: Progress Futures Team, Polly, Claire, Cathy, Laura, Katie and Phil stood with members of the Progress Involvement Team after winning South Ribble Borough Council's Business in the Community award 2019/2020.
What we do:
We remove barriers; enabling people to achieve their life and career goals through a person-centred approach. This means we don’t tell people what to do, but rather ask them what their objectives and aspirations are, enabling them to achieve their individual potential and empowering them to make positive decisions along the way.
Support is tailored to the needs of the individual and is available to any age group.
We help people to:
• Create and update their CV
• Arrange work experience or volunteering placements
• Prepare for interviews
• Search for jobs, complete job applications and prepare for interviews
• Access volunteering opportunities
• Arrange training in basic job skills including Maths & English
• Apply to college/ university
• Find traineeships and apprenticeships.
Grants and bursaries
We can also help fund the cost of training or materials and college courses, as well as contributing to childcare costs, transport costs and much more. The service is also offered to people with a learning disability who live in the Group's supported living accommodation.
The Progress Futures Team has also set up three successful job clubs in two of the community centres in Leyland and one at Leyland Job Centre Plus, which were set up in response to requests from customers.
The team works on several funded projects, enabling them to support tenants and non-tenants to improve their employment prospects, two of which are:
• More Positive Together, which is aimed at people aged 16-67 who are seeking support to move into education, training or employment and provides a holistic, tailored service to meet the unique needs of our customers.
• Age of Opportunity, which is designed specifically for people over the age of 50 who would like to work but are unable to without additional skills or support.
Support from Progress Futures during COVID-19 - Zooming, calling and quizzing!
Lockdown hasn’t stopped the Progress Futures Team supporting their customers. During lockdown they’ve been video-calling customers and have also started weekly group Zoom sessions. They started doing these sessions as many people had similar concerns or questions and this seemed the best way to ensure the information was being shared at the same time, to more people, and by using a more engaging format than just an email or text message.
The sessions have been themed - general enquires, how to get in touch with local support networks, how to look after your mental wellbeing - sharing coping strategies, and how to access flexible learning courses. The Zoom sessions have been well-received and there was lots of general conversation and some giggles between participants!
Due to the positive interaction between the participants while online, the team also set up 'Social Sessions' where they hosted a quiz but also allowed customers to have a general chit-chat and a catch-up with the people they usually saw at courses or local job clubs.
Progress Futures Manager, Polly Patel, said, "It has been wonderful to see staff and customers trying things they hadn’t been comfortable doing before: using online videos, communicating with people they may never have met before and so much more. The group has developed their skills from a distance without even realising it, which is fantastic to see!
"The team are hoping to build the numbers joining them online over the coming weeks, and they continue to put customers’ needs at the forefront of their minds and support them moving forward through this difficult and uncertain time."
The Progress Futures team has also been organising and delivering activity packs (funded by Active Lancashire and donated by the Community Connector for South Ribble, Gwenda Hughes) to customers to help and support entertaining their families during these testing times. The packs consisted of bats, balls, frisbee, bean bags and game cards, which are a great way to keep active, looking after your health and wellbeing and connecting with our community.
What our customers say
"The Progress Futures team has helped me through the good and dark days. They were always there when I needed them. They supported me in updating my CV and I then managed to secure 6 interviews and got all 6 jobs. I took a job in a care home for the elderly with dementia which I love. I am always welcome. Even though I’m now working the team are still supportive. They are just amazing.”
"Thanks so much for your help. You’re actually giving me my life back.”
"My son has really landed on his feet, from being bottom of the class right through school due to lack of support with his dyslexia he is now top of the class, his tutor couldn't sing his praises enough. I will be forever grateful to Progress Futures for suggesting it."
“I would recommend Progress Futures to anyone. People tried telling me not to go back to work, that it would be a waste of time. But working again is giving me something money can’t buy; it gives me confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. Work has changed my relationship with my partner too as we now go home and talk about our day, and what we want to do in the future.”
If you know anyone who would benefit from support from the Progress Futures Team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03333 204 555.