Southwark Works: employment advice that delivers

Southwark Works: employment advice that delivers

It’s been 15 years since Southwark Works began as a pilot project in Southwark, offering employment opportunities and support to local residents.

The service, commissioned by Southwark Council, has evolved greatly over the years, but the aim is the same – to offer a friendly, informative employment service to the people of Southwark.

Programme manager Jayne Couchman has been a part of Southwark Works from day one, when the service was run by a team of two from a council office on the former Aylesbury Estate. As the service became established, it expanded and moved to the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, where it was based for 12 years. In July this year, Southwark Works – which is now delivered by a network of providers – moved to its new home at 376 Walworth Road, offering more space for its expanding list of services.

Its aim is to help Southwark residents into work or to progress within their current employment – and, explains Couchman, there is a lot of support available.

“Southwark Works offers services to specific groups of people, including single parents, and people with long-term unemployment, health conditions, mental health problems, homelessness, and learning disabilities – all the kind of things that put you on the back foot if you’re trying to get a job,” she says.

“We work with people to improve their employability by helping them to solve all sorts of problems. We’re not just about helping fill in an application form – even though a lot of that happens!”

When someone makes contact with Southwark Works, either through an external source – such as at their local job centre – or by dropping into the Walworth Road office, a member of the team takes them through a registration process. Once this has been completed, their journey with Southwark Works can begin.

As well as offering support with CV writing, interview techniques, employers rights and how to access training courses in a range of industries, Couchman and her team work with employers looking to recruit in Southwark.

“We find out what skills and qualifications employers are looking for and then we try to match the job to people who are registered on our programme,” explains Couchman. “There’s no question that the Elephant & Castle regeneration has increased employment in the area. We’ve done a huge amount with Lendlease on the construction side of Elephant Park and now we have employers coming to us from the new retail and food outlets looking for local talent – so there are going to be some major opportunities in the near future. The regeneration has definitely brought lots of potential for employment to the borough.”

The service has been a lifeline for many individuals in Southwark, with around 1,000 registrations each year. Couchman says the service can be life changing for many people.

“Some people who come to us may have been out of work for a very long time, for a variety of reasons. Some may have a criminal record and think that’s it: their working life is over. When they realise it isn’t, it really is fantastic to see them progressing and getting into something.”

So, if you’re living in Southwark and need any kind of employment advice, the team at Southwark Works is open for business.

Southwark Works is located at 376 Walworth Road, London SE17 2NG. For more information, visit www.southwarkworks.com or call 0800 052 0540.

To find out more about Southwark Works and how the team could help you, visit www.southwarkworks.com

If you are interested in more employment services in and around Elephant Park, check out: