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Partnering with Working Chance

Mind Tools partnered with UK-based charity, Working Chance, to help women with criminal convictions find employment.
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The Challenge

At Mind Tools we’re always searching for new ways to help the local and global communities that we serve.

We strive to be a responsible business, and part of that means harnessing the power of our learning products to make a positive impact in the wider world.

Through our comprehensive library of Mind Tools learning resources, we want to support people who are looking to re-enter the workforce, or who may be entering employment for the first time.

We aim to assist people who need that little bit of extra help getting into work by providing them with tools that will not only allow them to develop their soft skills, but will also build their confidence and enable them to take control of their careers.

With this in mind, we asked our colleagues to suggest charities or not-for-profit organizations that fitted this description, and Working Chance was nominated as our first partner. Working Chance is a UK-based charity set up to help women with criminal convictions (around half of whom have been in prison) develop their employability and self-belief, and to find jobs that they can truly thrive in. The charity's main mission is to give women who’ve had very few breaks in life purpose, independence and hope.

The Solution

We approached Working Chance with our proposal for a partnership and were delighted when they agreed to work with us.

Over the last year we have worked closely with Helen Sweet, Head of Employability at Working Chance, to design and implement a toolkit that they can use to help their clients get back into employment.

Working Chance work alongside other organisations in the voluntary sector, namely those working to support women with related and complex needs. Mind Tools is a great addition to the fantastic support the charity provides to help women overcome barriers to employment and build their careers.

When we asked Helen why she was happy to partner with Mind Tools, she replied, “We’re always looking for way to develop our service to provide the best possible support for the women that we work with, and to provide them with choice in the way that they learn and develop the skills they need. Having explored a trial Mind Tools site, I could see that there was a breadth of resources that could complement the support, advice and guidance that we give to women. And the variety of content formats would really work for those with different learning styles. I was keen to explore how we might curate a site to support the work we already do.”

We were so excited when Mind Tools approached us about developing an online toolkit to support the work we do with clients. We’re always keen to explore new ways of doing things and it’s important to us that we give women choice in the way that they learn and develop their knowledge and skills.

Working Chance

The employability programme at Working Chance is bespoke, designed to help women build their confidence in relation to their career goals.

At the same time, the programme develops specific employability skills. Depending on what the woman needs, this could include workshops with one-to-one support for CV writing, interview skills, how to disclose a conviction to an employer and a range of transferable skills. The women also receive career coaching, to help them identify what’s important to them, so that they can create short and long-term career and development plans, standing them in good stead for the future.

Working Chance showcase the Mind Tools toolkit during their online workshops, and include reference to at least one resource within the workshop, for example, a video that gives tips on how to build rapport in an interview. They have also curated content over a number of topic areas into playlists, with specially selected content for women to explore. This gives them an easy starting point and the hope is that once they are using the resources, they’ll be encouraged to delve into the site and use even more.

We rolled out Mind Tools using a ‘soft launch’ approach; however, we quickly discovered that not many women were accessing the toolkit because they felt it was yet another thing for them to do independently. We also used a shared login rather than individual usernames and passwords – which meant we had very little useful information about how Working Chance’s clients were using it in reality. We still have some way to go on this, but we now have unique logins for each user, and with Working Chance actively promoting and using the Mind Tools resources in their workshops, this is helping to drive usage and engagement. However, it still remains very much an optional resource for Working Chance’s clients, who have very busy lives.

The toolkit content is diverse and provides learning extension activities for those who are keen to further learn and develop a wide range of skills that could support them to find and maintain meaningful work, in line with their career objectives. Empowerment is so important, so we encourage the women to explore the content in their own time and find whatever interests them for further independent learning.

The Results

Working Chance have already done so much to help women with convictions to find jobs.

In fact, less than four percent of the people they work with re-offend, and 83 percent are still in work after six months. The charity places an average of 200 women into work each year, and works with just under 500 people who are on their journey to rehabilitation.

We hope that by partnering with Working Chance we can help women develop their employability skills and rebuild their careers.

It’s been a breeze to work with Katie and Lee, who have advised and guided us through the process, from initial ideas, through to site production, review and ongoing development. They’re keen for us to get the most out of the tool and discussing ideas on how to encourage client engagement and embed the tool into the work we do has been really helpful. We’re still working on new ideas to help women get more out of the site, both now and in the future once they’ve moved on from Working Chance.