Building Equality 'Digi, Aye!' Women's Aid South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire

The Gathering 2018

Women's Aid South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire

Charity registered in Scotland SC041781

WASLER is a specialist domestic abuse charity providing refuge accommodation, support and information to women, children and young people who have experience of domestic abuse.
We support and empower women, children and young people affected by domestic abuse to lead safe and independent lives offering practical support, safety planning, advocacy and safe accommodation.

'Building Equality' is a new project within WASLER - exploring the relationship between the journey back towards paid work, gender and domestic abuse. The project is the first of it's kind within the United Kingdom and extends Women's Aid's services to include employability support.

  • From 1st November 2017 to 31st October 2018
  • Award: £10,000 via Call 5
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Project plan

Project description

Building Equality (BE) is a new project within WASLER, exploring the relationship between employment, gender and domestic abuse. Its aim for service users is: women have increased financial independence via access to economic resources, education, paid labour market and routes out of poverty.

BE 'Digi, Aye!' project will be based around a women's only job club. Weekly drop-in (9am-5pm) session where women can meet in a safe, non-judgemental learning environment and be supported to explore options and address barriers to work. This will be a one-stop shop for budgeting support, universal credit applications, universal job match demands, CV updates, job search and applications etc.

When not being utilised as a job club - the space will be available for all service users to utilise internet/applications etc. with the support of their worker. Group participation will be set up for 10 - ten laptops and 2 tablets - though given drop in nature of the club we would anticipate pockets of smaller groups throughout the day.

Project milestones

Phase 1

Hiring of administration worker - from Building Equality participants.

Phase 2

Set up of work space and calendar of weekly jobs club

Phase 3

Service users report an increased awareness and competence of digital devices and can utilise same to increase their employment opportunities. Service users leave service competent with all aspects of employability pathway and are self-reliant in IT

Evaluation

Updates

Weekly jobs club is up and running, is busy and provides a thriving learning and work environment. This offers a 1hr – 1 hr 30 min learning tutorial which will focus directly on job focused digital skills such as job site navigation, updating CV, online-applications, negotiating DWP demands, sending emails, setting up new email addresses etc. and also using digital skills to improve knowledge of self and of existing labour market (inclusive of training and education options). There-after there is a further 1-2hours of 'free time' dedicated to individual jobs club/digital skills goals. For some participants (approximately 50%) the focus is solely job search and application. For others it is practicing basic digital skills and increasing confidence in own IT ability.

Jobs club 'Digi Aye' currently runs once a week, but looking to increase to twice a week following the Summer holidays (w/c 20th August 2018) to meet demand of the service.

Work focused environment where participants are encouraged to support and challenge each other, explore biases in the labour market (gender/ageism etc) and question the structures in place.

All participants are moving towards becoming fully self-reliant in digital skills. All participants also have increased access to economic opportunities.

Due to equipment, jobs club have been limited to 8 participants but this seems to have met demand sufficiently. 1:1 work is done on computers with participants with employability worker – and this is practiced in the jobs club environment. Independently, women know they have access to our office at any point Monday to Friday to utilise equipment for personal need.

Jobs club regularity and the environment of same as a warm, friendly and encouraging space, has really helped with participants routine and reducing social isolation. This is particularly helpful when working with women who have recently moved to the area or in to refuge.

Having comfortably established 'Digi Aye' and need for same within WASLER, the following months will look to creating a physical space within the existing office to set up a dedicated digital space. To date 'Digi Aye' has floated in practical office space; this has worked great but to ensure complete integration in to existing WASLER services beyond the scope of the employability project 'Building Equality', an actual dedicated office space will encourage same.

'Digi Aye' at WASLER has digitalised the Building Equality employability project, bringing a working technological and digital space to the workforce. The first quarter has been about project set up, raising awareness with service users, building interest, promoting same out with the Building Equality project and purchasing the equipment needed to deliver professional, useful digital workshops.

With the first financial injection, Building Equality purchased hybrid laptops/tablets and updated them with software to ensure they met WASLER IT policy requirements. This took slightly longer than anticipated, however all equipment is up and running and in use now.

Group work uptake has been limited currently, with expectations that this will increase in the next quarter. Digital support and up-skilling has in the main been done on a 1:1 basis with our employability worker.

Looking forward, in the next quarter we hope to purchase furniture to create a permanent 'Digi Aye ' and IT break out zone in the office. We are also working with HR with a view of implementing paid work experience/internships, whilst still meeting WASLER's policies and procedures around recruitment and our duty of care to all service users.

A group which provided a social and welcoming environment where participants supported each other in the use of IT. A safe environment to develop IT skills.

Developing IT skills as well as discussing work opportunities as well as support in interviewing skills were all developed.

Weekly sessions continue to provide a thriving learning environment for participants. The sessions are offered from 11-2 providing support. Drop In is also encouraged during this time. Work continues with job site navigation, online applications, sourcing courses and workshops.

The group continues to provide a social and welcoming environment where participants support each other and also assist each other in completing applications. The participants are now fully self reliant in digital skills. To continue to develop their skills further, further digital courses have been attended including word and excel.

A designated room is now used for Digi Aye. The use of a printer is also available.

Our digital work is delivered in partnership with: