Programme recognised for work with BAME community
A unique project which helps people overcome their barriers and move on with their lives has won an equalities award.
Step Forward Tees Valley supports people to overcome the complex barriers that are holding them back in life. It works with people with mental health issues; debt; convictions; addictions; low self-esteem and other issues. It is run by the Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) and funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.
At the recent North East Equality Awards, NIC won the award for best organisation with 50-200 staff for Step Forward Tees Valley’s work with Nur Fitness, based in Teesside.
The awards recognise those who work regionally and nationally to achieve equality in employment and services.
Step Forward Tees Valley has been working with Nur Fitness to encourage women from the BAME community to come together, keep fit and learn new skills. The sessions, which include well-being, mental health awareness, personal development and basic IT, have proved very popular, especially amongst those from other countries. All the sessions are held in places that have childcare facilities and are easy for the women to attend.
The sessions give some of the most isolated people living in Tees Valley the chance to make connections outside their home and in the towns where they now live. Step Forward Tees Valley works with the participants as their confidence grows, and they begin to open up about the issues they are facing, whether it’s a lack of skills, debt or mental health issues.
Helen Collins, Step Forward Tees Valley programme manager, said: “I am delighted that the work we have been doing with Nur Fitness has been recognised by Equality North East. We started working with them in April this year and have already seen some great results with many of the women now wanting to train and find work.
“Since Step Forward started in late 2016, we have helped 104 people overcome their barriers and find work - 7% of these people had been unemployed for more than 25 years. This shows we are making a real impact on people’s lives and to wider society as people who have been out of work for long periods of time are now working and contributing to their communities.
“But getting people into jobs is just a small part of what we do. So many of our participants have made huge strides forward in their lives, whether they are now volunteering, joining groups or seeking help for problems that have held them back. We are proud of them all.”