On Friday 1 February 2019, 100 participants and employees from employment support programme, New Leaf, came together at the innovative Jodrell Bank to celebrate their achievements. New Leaf, part of the Building Better Opportunities programme, is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK
To date, New Leaf has helped get over 2500 people closer to employment. Over 25 organisations make up New Leaf, including Groundwork CLM, Disability Information Bureau, Cheshire East Citizens Advice Bureau and CVS Cheshire East. Working together, the partnership helps its participants to overcome their barriers to employment and get them closer to paid work. This includes access to free training, support with their mental health and help to find meaningful volunteer opportunities and work placements.
Surrounded by their friends and family, as well as their New Leaf mentors, participants shared how their lives have changed since joining the programme. For some, who not that long ago couldn’t leave the houses due to anxiety, this was a massive achievement.
Craig Johnson came to New Leaf not knowing where to turn, but knowing things had to change. His mentor from Acorn Recovery helped him to overcome his substance misuse issues and work on creating a career for himself.
Craig said, “I used to spend my Fridays at the pub, now I spend it at a youth club looking after kids with autism and it’s actually really fulfilling.”
Craig is now hoping to spend more time volunteering in his local community to give back and help give him focus in his life.
Not only did participants share their stories, they also listened to music from fellow New Leaf participant, Kerry Sheree, who is now helping school children tackle their own anxieties through the art of music as well as providing vocal training.
Andy Rawlins, New Leaf programme manager said, “It’s great to be able to get some of our past participants together to see how far they have come. Everyone who works on New Leaf cares deeply about helping people who may have been previously overlooked by traditional forms of employment support. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear first-hand accounts of how life-changing being part of the New Leaf programme has been for people.”
If you, or someone you know, needs support getting back into work get in touch with New Leaf.