DWP strategy team visit Kennedy Scott's Luton branch to learn about their innovative Circle of Support Model and SES provision ahead of the government's new flagship Work and Health programme

On Monday 30 January, members of the Department for Work and Pension’s strategy team visited Kennedy Scott’s Luton office to see, first-hand, how their highly successful Circle of Support model works in practice to help local residents move into work.

The DWP team contacted Kennedy Scott at the end of last year requesting a visit to learn about their Specialist Employability Support programme and how their innovative Circle of Support, CoS© model is applied to help even more people with disabilities and complex health conditions into good, lasting work.

Kennedy Scott’s Circle of Support model works to reduce social isolation and increase social connectivity by linking customers with local support organisations that can help individual’s overcome any barriers holding them back from securing work. A customer’s Circle of Support involves their Caseworker, an Employer Account Manager, an Activities Coordinator and all of the relevant people in their life who can help to support them into work, including their GPs, social workers, Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Advisors, family and friends. The support network remains in place long after somebody has attained and sustained employment, to ensure they continue to progress and reach their potential.

The day was led by CEO Teresa Scott and included presentations on the model, including its evolution, how Kennedy Scott deliver on Specialist Employability Support, roundtables with specialist partners, employers and family members, a customer ‘healthy habits session’ and a Q&A.

Kennedy Scott showcased to the department how the Circle of Support model works in practice, during a roundtable with two brothers, their mother, the employer and the Kennedy Scott Employer Account Manger.

Brothers Sam and Ed both have complex health conditions which have, in the past, prevented them from securing sustainable employment. Ed has Asperger's Syndrome, dyspraxia and a mental health condition, whilst Sam has Autism and both suffer with social anxiety. They joined Kennedy Scott’s Specialist Employability Support programme in 2015, and their mother Mary played a fundamental role in their Circle of Support.

Kennedy Scott provided comprehensive support with the updating of their CVs, writing cover letters, jobsearching and interview skills. Their Caseworker facilitated a raft of local support and they completed a number of courses with Kennedy Scott’s local specialist partners, including Mind and Evolve to better support them overcome barriers, and they completed an IT User Skills course with the Community Training Portal and achieved a qualification each.

Their mother, Mary, has been particularly appreciative of the involvement Kennedy Scott has enabled her to have in her sons’ journeys back to work. She said: “Kennedy Scott values the people who know them best. If I have any problems, I can call up and they listen. I can come to see them any time and they take it all on board and deal with the matter.

“Providers haven’t had the full background information they need to help Ed and Sam and it has ended in failure in the past.

“Sam and Ed have matured so much and their confidence has grown - that is what Kennedy Scott does, they have tapped into their qualities and positive aspects.”

As a result, Sam successfully secured part-time work with Roses Homecare in February 2016 as an Admin Assistant and six months later Ed secured a placement as an Account Assistant with the same employer. Kennedy Scott has worked closely with the employer to put in place tailored support for both Ed and Sam, for example, Kennedy Scott purchased Sage software for Ed to help him improve and progress in his role. The employer also meets with their Kennedy Scott Caseworker regularly to monitor progress and address any issues should they occur.

Since beginning their new roles, both brothers have become more confident, their communication skills have improved and their family have noticed a marked difference. Roses Homecare Office Manager Derek Douglas said of their transformation: “‘It has been rewarding to watch both boys since the minute they walked through the door to the point they’ve got to now”.

In addition to accessing support from professional in-house advisors, Kennedy Scott has developed an extensive network of public, private and third sector organisations offering specialist advice and support to people with complex barriers to work. Mental Health charity Mind, from the Luton branch, were present on the day to provide access to a ‘Healthy Aspirations’ course which looks at components like managing stress, goal setting, assertiveness and confidence building, whilst ‘Evolve’ teaches ways to manage mental health with art.

The day ended with a Q&A session and a presentation on the evolution of Kennedy Scott’s Circle of Support model, most recently this has been transformed into a digital marketplace where customers can search and shop for support that can aid them in their journey back to work. This is currently being piloted on Kennedy Scott’s Help to Work programme, with the view of expanding it across all future contracts.

To find out more about our programmes and how we can help you or somebody you know, visit the jobseekers section of our website.

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