Hertfordshire’s volunteer job club is one of the first volunteer-led initiatives of its kind in the country, and shows how the fire service supports the wider agenda of economic wellbeing and making best use of its assets; District Commander Steve Holton reports:
Launched last month [May] the club provides people who are unemployed with a flexible, responsive service to support them back into work. It aims to identify areas where people need help and meet their needs through workshops, training, support and signposting.
Support offered by the club includes training in CV writing, networking opportunities and courses on subjects such as improving your chances of employment, confidence-boosting and starting your own business
Enhance individuals' chances of finding work
The club is also looking at how they can further enhance individuals’ chances of finding work by exploring the opportunity to deliver accredited First Aid and Fire Marshall courses.
Outreach and volunteer manager, Roy Aldwin, said: “It is about finding imaginative solutions to the issues people have. For example, one person had very good IT skills, so we suggested he helps other people at the club who are less IT literate than he is. This means that he can put this experience on his CV and other members of the club receive the support they need.”
Around ten Community Protection volunteers currently support the scheme, bringing with them a wide range of skills, including HR and recruitment experience.
Huw Jones used to be a senior technical manager for British Telecom and has been volunteering for Hertfordshire County Council’s Community Protection department for three years. He said: “Volunteering at the job club has been a very interesting experience for me as I have never come across anything so personal before. I’ve recommended a website I use myself to someone who needed help to improve his basic office skills and it was exactly what he was looking for.”
Former executive Bob Hesketh, who has been volunteering for two years, said: “I’ve supported the job club since the start and numbers are growing all the time. We have lots of different people coming along and are finding different ways of helping them.”
Solving a skills gap
The need for such a club was first identified by the Local Strategic Partnership board. Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service offered their headquarters in Hertford as a venue and Community Protection volunteers agreed to staff the club, with support from HFRS staff.
Steve Holton, District Group Commander for East Herts and Broxbourne, explained: “We have noticed a skills gap for the 45+ age group, who may find themselves redundant after being in employment for many years. We wanted to offer a quality job club that could help these people.
“This is just one example of how HFRS is fulfilling the wider HCC agenda of supporting economic wellbeing and using our building assets to their best potential.”