We spent a day in the Cheltenham business center and that’s what we got

We’ve seen them all, some of us have even gone through the doors, but what is it really like inside a work center and what happens there?

The vision that most people have of a work center, with the roles tabs available in the window, is hugely obsolete.

From confidence building courses to job fairs, the job center now offers a much more holistic approach to helping people get to work and stay at work.

Gloucestershire Live spent a day in the Cheltenham business center on North Street to find out what happens every day in their doors.

The work center staff can manage vulnerable customers in difficult situations.

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The most important news from Gloucestershire today

Sarah Vallender, head of customer service at the Cheltenham employment center, takes care of the service delivery team that takes care of ad hoc callers and vulnerable customers.

He said: “Our vulnerable customers are those who enter us on a much more regular basis and are the people who need much more support from us.

“We draw on many other partners who come in and work from the office. There is a lot of support across the team to make sure people get the help they need.

“Some customers may have an illness or addiction to drugs and alcohol and may be vulnerable for a rather long period. Other customers may be vulnerable for a shorter period of time due to domestic situations or things that are happening at home.

“Some people we could support for weeks, months and years. But other customers may be vulnerable for only a few weeks, after which they go on and no longer need us.

“These situations can be very exciting for customers and staff. We do everything we can to put them at ease when they arrive and to make sure they feel supported and contact any other support they need. “

From L to R; Sarah Vallender, Viv Deane, Dee Ritchie, Christine Dawes, Donna Cole

There are seven employment centers in Gloucestershire, with bases in Coleford, Cinderford, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Cirencester and Stroud.

The Cheltenham Employment Center employs just under 40 employees for the work centers, as well as around 15 employees working there in partnership.

Dee Ritchie, head of integrated district operations in Gloucestershire, said: “The team here is like my family. Many of the clients we helped get into work also become part of our family.

“Some customers who have become homeless, have lost all their clothes or been robbed, are actually coming here as the first stop because they know that people here care about them.

“They know they can sit down and download their problems, knowing that the person can help send them to the right place.

“When that person leaves here, they know they are going to the person who can help.

“Some of our positive results are not jobs or training, they are the ones who have a small studio apartment or something. Those small steps we are involved with are in the world of work as such, but they are necessary to let that person in in the world of work. “

There are around 200 appointments booked per day in the Cheltenham business center and over 100 more people walk every day.

Christine Dawes is responsible for customer service for Gloucestershire and has overall responsibility for the seven employment centers in the county.

Ms. Dawes said: “We train our staff around personal boundaries but there are occasions when our staff are influenced by the cases we deal with, which is human nature. We are all shocked by the things we see and hear.

“Not bringing these situations home and dwelling on them can be difficult in some cases because of the nature of the situations people find themselves in.

“We have support within the organization to enable staff who have had a difficult situation to get the care they need.”

The job center now offers more than ever online, which allows customers to access more services than before and staff to provide more variety of assistance.

Steve Olczak, responsible for the partnership in Gloucestershire, covers all seven machining centers in Gloucestershire. Its role is to connect partnerships with the job center to provide better collaborative work for people in the county.

Steve Olczak

Olczak said: “I have been working for the machining center for a good number of years now and personally I feel that people who walk through doors have more complex and vulnerable needs.

“The job market is pretty lively, but there are more people who need a lot of support, help, offer and training to advance people before they even look to the job side.

“My job is where we can work with job coaches, get an idea of ​​the people walking through the doors and talk to relevant partners who can help.

“We can improve communication and work much closer with our partners to him and our customers.

“My job is to listen to the needs of people who enter the employment center and better offer what they need by interacting with our partners.

“The job center has changed so much that it’s probably no longer an appropriate name. Many job coaches will sit down with someone now and see what the individual needs to move forward, rather than going directly into the work.

“There are so many people with barriers and without facing them they will not move forward.”

Numerous entities collaborate with the employment center to provide customer support services. These include local authorities, citizens’ councils, the police, libraries and housing associations. For example, Cheltenham Borough Homes offers drop-in sessions from the employment center every Wednesday.

Viv Deane is a working coach team leader in Cheltenham. His job is to make sure that the job coaches are as qualified as possible to help clients in the best way for them.

Ms. Deane said: “There is a buzz in receiving a message or someone is calling to say” thank you for all your help, I got the job, I have exactly what I need, it’s brilliant. ” feedback is always the thing that makes you feel warm and confused inside.

“However, dealing the same way with a vulnerable client, even if it’s not possible to solve his problems exactly, knowing he has done as much as possible and still being there for them – while it’s a burden, which in itself is a really positive feeling to have.

“I would be surprised if any of us said that we are at work because it pays well or that we can go home at the end of the day and not think about my job. We bring things home, of course, because we are dealing with people and emotions.

“If we have managed to do something that helps people and improves things, this is part of the reason why we are here. What we do is good and most of our customers will feel a real positive benefit from that job. “

There is a strong support network among the staff at the work center, with staff helping each other to manage the stress of some of the most difficult aspects of the job.

Donna Cole, who is also a job coach foreman in Cheltenham, joined the job center in January.

He said: “If I hadn’t had the support of the rest of the staff who came into this office, the experience could have been very different for me.

“I don’t really know the area, the customers or this office. It is purely thanks to the support of my colleagues that I was able to come every day, do what I need and go home without feeling stressed.

“For me, it’s one of the most important things to have that support from the people around you. You can’t do it alone and this office is a team.

“It doesn’t exist” I did this and this “: everyone supports everyone else”.


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