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Skills project for homeless people ‘truly inspiring’ - minister

Skills minister Nick Boles MP visited the STRIVE project in Southwark on Tuesday to lean how homeless people are finding work and gaining qualifications.

Skills project for homeless people ‘truly inspiring’ - minister
STRIVE clients David (far left) and Angela (far right) with Nick Boles MP

STRIVE is a tailored programme of literacy and numeracy support designed specifically for people who are homeless.

The pilot project is being run by homelessness charities St Mungo's Broadway and Crisis and will work with at least 100 people over a two year period, building basic English, maths and IT skills and improving employability.

The project is based at St Mungo's Broadway's centre in Rushworth Street, Southwark.

According to recent research from St Mungo's Broadway, 51 per cent of people who are homeless lack basic English skills (below level 1 or GCSE grade D-G), compared to 15 per cent of the general population. Many have had a poor experience of school, often connected to unstable or traumatic childhoods.

Lack of skills impacts on training and employment prospects and makes it harder to address problems around health and housing, in turn making it so much harder to recover from homelessness.

Of the 44 clients who have enrolled in the programme since it launched in April 2014, 20 have already achieved a qualification or accreditation in basic Maths, English or IT. Two are now in employment.

Skills minister Nick Boles said: "I'm delighted that the Government has been able to support the STRIVE project.

"It's been truly inspiring to meet with some of the people the project is helping and to see the dedication of the St Mungo's Broadway team.

"Through STRIVE, some of the most vulnerable people in our society are getting the basic skills they need improve their lives and find work. This Government is committed to ensuring more people have the core English, maths and IT skills needed to play an active role in society and projects like STRIVE are central to this."

One STRIVE client, David, is 44. He said: "STRIVE is the first time I've had help with my English and maths so I can't really compare but so far the tutors seem much better than when I was at school. It's much better than I thought it would be. I feel comfortable and confident that I can improve. I want to improve my three Rs and my IT skills. At the end I want to go to college to study history."

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo's Broadway, said: "Poor literacy and numeracy skills impact upon people's health, relationships, work opportunities and their ability to maintain a home.

"Initiatives such as STRIVE make a difference and we are delighted that the minister could see for himself the impact of the STRIVE pilot and how this specialist pre-employment programme is really helping people to rebuild their lives."

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: "The vast majority of homeless people want to work. They just need the right support. Homelessness is a devastating experience that shatters people's confidence and self-esteem. Many will need specialist support to rebuild their skills to the point where they are ready for work. That is precisely what STRIVE does so well.

"We welcome the minister's ongoing support and we are pleased that he has been able to see first-hand the benefits of this crucial project in helping homeless people realise their potential."

STRIVE is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

It is being delivered by Crisis and St Mungo's Broadway with support from the Department for Work and Pensions.

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