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Bromford announces success of first phase of 'Opportunities 4 Employment' programme

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Ten Bromford customers have successfully completed six-month paid work placements under Bromford's Opportunities 4 Employment (O4E) scheme. Five candidates have now been offered two-year apprenticeships and three are going on to extend their placements for three months.

Phase One O4E began in January this year and has provided Bromford customers with opportunities to gain experience and new skills in the housing sector. Each placement has been supported to develop personal and employability skills in the workplace.

James Walsh, Economic Inclusion Manager at Bromford, said: "This is a great result for the first phase. Even for the two who are moving on, they made the decision it was not the right time for them but they are now armed with experience and skills they didn't have when they joined us and are work-ready for other opportunities which we will help them to find.

"We believe in our customers' potential and feel we are ideally placed to provide opportunities to help them from unemployment into work and be the best they can be. We aim to have helped a lot more of our own customers to become colleagues by 2016."

Following the success of the first phase, Phase Two O4E is on track to follow later this year.

Case studies of customers moving into two-year apprenticeships.

Marie is working as assistant PA to Bromford's customer service and housing division. She is 25 and lives in Wolverhampton. After gaining two A' levels and good work experience, she became pregnant at 20 and had to go onto benefits. After having her son, Harvey, she applied continuously for work without success. She said: "It is so demoralising. You don't get any feedback and you feel as if you're labelled as lazy being out of work, though you are doing everything you can to get a job." Since being on the O4E programme, Marie's confidence has grown and she summarised: "Before I felt like I was a nobody - now I'm a somebody again."

Sonja is working in HR as an assistant administrator. She is aged 22 and also from Wolverhampton. She had worked as a hairdresser but suffered postnatal depression which led to a breakdown after the birth of her daughter, Courtney, now aged two. She said: "When I heard about O4E I didn't think it was real - I always thought you needed a degree to work in an office." Since joining Bromford her health has improved greatly. She concluded: "I didn't think that work could have such an impact but I have a real spring in my step now. I have had the most amazing six months ever- I have also moved house and am getting married this month. It has changed my life so much, I cried my eyes out when I was told I had got the apprenticeship."

Charley is working at Bromford's Lichfield work club. She is aged 34, and lives in Lichfield. Prior to joining the O4E scheme she had been made homeless after fleeing domestic violence and was signed up as a Bromford tenant in 2011. She was unemployed for two years despite persistently applying for jobs and lost confidence as she was unable to secure work. She said: "I thought something was wrong with me." However, it all changed when she went to the Lichfield work club and was encouraged to go for the assistant administrator role. She continued: "I never thought I'd get an interview and I can't believe I've now got a two-year apprenticeship. I actually feel like screaming with happiness and thank everyone at Bromford who has helped me. I love my job and helping other Bromford customers with things like confidence building and numeracy and literacy - they see how well I've done and it gives them food for thought. Many people don't want to be in the position they're in but can't get out of it."

Selina is a trainee finance officer. She is aged 31 and lives in Wolverhampton. After gaining a 2.1 degree in Accounting and Finance at Birmingham City University, she struggled to get work. The apprenticeship she is undertaking with Bromford is a higher level that will enable her to take on extra study to become a qualified accountant. Selina said: "O4E has offered me a whole lot of opportunities and bridged the gap from studying to employment."

Greg is also a trainee finance officer. He is aged 19 and lives in Perton, Staffordshire. After three years at college studying IT and horticulture, he applied for several jobs but the O4E role was only one he had success with. Greg said: "O4E is a Godsend. There are not many places that will look at people who have never worked or not worked for a long time. I was used to being turned away at the first hurdle."

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