High Peak Foodbank gets JobCentre help to boost employment

Work coaches Jane Kirk-Bagshaw and Lizzie Walton at High Peak Foodbank. Photo contributed.
Work coaches Jane Kirk-Bagshaw and Lizzie Walton at High Peak Foodbank. Photo contributed.

High Peak Foodbank staff have been so successful helping to get people on their feet and into work the Government has announced plans to boost its team with JobCentre Plus Work Coaches.

The foodbank, in Buxton, has been running a work coaching service since the beginning of the year and 40 per cent of participants have gone on to find work within eight weeks.

Department for Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently announced Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches were to be placed in foodbanks to help people find work and apply for benefits after foodbank area co-ordinator Paul Bohan sent a report to the DWP and to Employment Minister Priti Patel.

Mr Bohan said: “This is something we’ve been doing for months. The difference is we haven’t used JobCentre staff, but have trained our own work coaches.

“We also combine experience at the foodbank to help participants to develop skills in areas like customer service, warehousing and administration.

“We have built a good working relationship with our JobCentre who refer people to our Work and Skills Programme.”

One High Peak Foodbank Work Coach explained results were so good because of the time she gets to work with people.

She told the story of one client who had been unemployed for over 20 years but after a lengthy appointment she decided to come back the following day and apply for jobs and a week later she secured work.

The foodbank work coach has built links with employers and is able to suggest where there might be openings for such clients.

The client in this case secured an interview and rehearsed for it with the work coach.

The foodbank also helped her with food because her benefits had been stopped as soon as she found work and they helped her access DWP funding to help with travel to work until her first pay day.

High Peak Foodbank does not however want foodbanks to become part of the welfare state and staff are determined to ensure that clients can discuss concerns openly without fear of any benefit sanctions.

A High Peak Foodbank spokesman added most of its clients attend a work and skills programme because they feel comfortable with the fact that the foodbank is completely independent. But the foodbank stated that any support that users can get is welcome, particularly as benefit issues are the main reason for foodbank use in the High Peak.