Hopeful Families’ new Progression Coach, Kevin, has more reason than most to help out families facing multiple barriers in life. His extensive career path has seen him working from organising general election campaigns to seeing first-hand the effects of austerity, providing him with a rich perspective on the matter and driving home his need to offer support.
Kevin’s role as a Progression Coach is to work closely with clients and get them on track to finding suitable employment. It’s our Family Mentors like Jill and Jenni who introduce clients to the Hopeful Families programme, and then Kevin who transitions clients to the next stage of identifying suitable training or education that will move them nearer to the world of work.
Many of our clients develop strong bonds with the Hopeful Families staff they work with, and one point Kevin likes to stress to employers and clients is that with the Hopeful Families programme, there is no element of compulsion to meet targets they’ve set.
This means clients get no sanctions if they miss a deadline, as the relationship is based on trust, and the knowledge that the client has a genuine desire to improve things for themselves and their family.
Kevin’s varied career includes 23 years as a civil servant, lots of work in local communities across the country, and roles across several Groundwork trusts.
If you’re from the Barnsley area you may be familiar with one of Kevin’s proudest achievements to date! The First World War memorial clock in Middlecliffe was unveiled at an event organised by Kevin to remember the ‘Barnsley Pals’ – locals who went to fight in the Battle of Somme but never returned. The clock was unveiled by Michael Dugher MP, who was so impressed with Kevin’s work at the event he offered him a job working with him!
Despite being just 2 years away from qualifying for a medal for spending 25 years with the Civil Service, Kevin was excited for what lay ahead.
“I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference, to do something different. It was a fascinating time ahead, but a slight pity as I will miss out on my medal!”
Working for a Member of Parliament reiterated the severity of some people’s situations, and made Kevin realise the impact of certain things happening to people. Visiting food banks and seeing this unfold in person certainly struck a chord in him.
“You could see people were struggling with money and austerity measures. You see it on TV but when you’re dealing with the fourth letter sent from someone in debt or whose benefits have been delayed, you get a sense that things aren’t fair.”
Kevin knew that what he saw wasn’t right, and also knew he could make a difference. His time on the frontline of fighting poverty in the UK reaffirmed to him the challenges facing some families and is very much the driving force to him helping those families facing multiple barriers in life.
Since moving to Groundwork, Kevin has worked in Sheffield on a business programme helping over 25’s who weren’t working, before joining the Hopeful Families in our Wakefield office late in 2018.
Kevin is currently implementing his ‘New Year, New Job’ scheme, to help people in West Yorkshire get a job and overcome their obstacles.
Extremely proud of those he has helped overcome a dark past and create something for themselves, Kevin was keen to give some examples of people whose life he has helped turn around.
“One guy who had just come out of prison was into football and wanted to coach people. I did some research with local clubs finding out what was required, and found you needed FA training, First Aid and Safeguarding certificates. I contacted Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, booking him into training courses, and he’s now qualified as level one football coach. He volunteers at local junior football club, and is now thinking of returning to work as football coach or PE teacher.
Another guy was booked in for an interview but didn’t have suitable clothing. There’s an organisation in Sheffield called The Suit Works, who give men a one hour makeover, dressing analysis, and provide you with a completely refreshed wardrobe. He left with a top quality second hand suit, shirt, tie, collar, socks, and a pair of second hand Prada shoes which retailed for £550. He got the job. I'm so happy with it!”