Learn For Free programmes win national award in excellence

Our Learn For Free programme has won Excellence in Employment, Skills and Training at the TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service) Awards 2017.

Learn For Free is a free training programme for residents that offers people guidance and support to build confidence and social skills as well as providing formal qualifications.

Elaine Pellow, Chair of the PCH Board said: “This is a fantastic achievement for us. It’s great to be recognised by TPAS who are national experts in tenant engagement as it shows that we have our residents at the heart of our organisation. Our residents are our present and our future, it is their views and involvement that help us to shape and provide great services.”

In February the programme won the regional award and has now triumphed at the TPAS National finals, beating off some really tough competition in its category.

Alice Potter, Communities Team Manager said: “We are delighted to have won a national award for our achievements – this is a programme that we really believe in and it’s great that our success stories have been recognised by TPAS and the judges.

“We aim to support residents to achieve their goals, whether that is work, gaining a qualification or certificate, volunteering, joining a social club or giving something back to their community.

“For some residents their aim is to gain employment or follow a chosen career path. For others, the goal may be to become less socially isolated, improve their health and wellbeing, or get qualifications which may help them to become more actively involved in the community.”

Ryan Huws, Communities Worker who creates the career pathways for the programme is really pleased that all PCH staff support the programme and tells us: “The approach to providing skills and training has been embraced by everyone here. For example, promotion and referrals to the programme comes from Housing Officers and Financial Inclusion Officers. As well as supporting and caring for our residents, it helps us to achieve our own goals with housing management.”

In 2016 -17 the Learn For Free programme saw a fantastic number of people engage with us:

  • 444 residents attended a programme/course
  • 236 residents achieved qualifications and/or certificates
  • 506 hours of tutoring time delivered
  • 99.2% resident satisfaction

The last two years have seen the development of the Career Pathways which is a group of targeted training courses aimed at giving people the skills and training required to gain employment in a certain area. The last 24 months have seen Career Pathways in childcare, construction, cleaning and ranger/caretaking work.

Ryan explains more: “We introduced the Career Pathways on the back of suggestions from our residents. We look at which areas people want to gain employment in and then design a tailor made group of courses to give the skills in that area.

“One of the Career Pathways we put together was in childcare. We had certificated training courses in Baby and Toddler First Aid, Level 1 and 2 in Food Hygiene, How to Cook Healthy Meals for the Kids, and a wrap-around On Course training in childcare. Once these have been completed the support for those on the Pathways doesn’t end there.

“We offer more support in terms of writing CV’s and cover letters and offer our residents interview skills training as well. Once this has been completed we aim to get people work experience on the job – whether with PCH or with other local businesses.”

Andrea Castro, who has benefitted from several of our courses said: “I was a waitress where I worked, and through PCH I was able to take advantage of free courses that gave me a First Aid certificate and a Food Hygiene certificate which has enabled me to become a Supervisor in my job.

“It’s great that PCH put these courses on for free and that people like me can benefit from them, as it has helped to give me a boost in my career and I’m hoping to go on from here.”

John Clark, Chief Executive of PCH said: “I’m really proud of everyone involved in this programme. To win the regional award is a great reflection of the aspirations and values that we have as a business and the individuals doing the work every day.”