Council's Employment Support team wins Team of the Year at BASE awards evening

The life changing hard work of the Employment Support Team at Southampton City Council has been recognised at this year’s British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) awards

The commitment of the team was celebrated when they won Team of Year at an awards dinner attended by over 200 people in Brighton on 9 November, where BASE presented its annual awards for best practice in supporting disability employment.

The presentations coincided with the annual BASE conference and recognise the exceptional efforts of the winning individuals and organisations.

Southampton City Council’s Employment Support Team celebrated its 30th year in 2020. In the last three decades, it’s worked with over 10,000 disadvantaged and disabled clients, with a zero-exclusion philosophy.

The team has a philosophy of ‘anyone can work regardless of their disadvantage or disability, as long as it is the right time for them, the right support is in place and it’s the right opportunity’ and use co-production and customer feedback to make sure that happens.

In 2020 the team rose to one of its biggest challenges by supporting individuals hardest hit by COVID. As well as maintaining their Matrix-accredited employment support service, they adapted the service and embraced the opportunity to include virtual delivery, ensuring all clients maintained their ability to make informed choices and decisions. Every client received welfare calls, including those shielding on NHS list and distributed food parcels and took calls on the Community Support Helpline, all whilst maintaining the service to clients still seeking employment.

The team established a virtual Work Club, which has been extended through local libraries, and last year organised a virtual jobs fair. They have also organised a multi-agency Young Adults Employment Hub and the digital hub has engaged with 178 young people, with 139 moving into work. In addition, they’ve supported 82 young people into work through other routes. The number of customer groups served has increased, including new perinatal mental health employment support. Employers are seen as key stakeholders and customers of the service.

BASE Chief Executive, Huw Davies, said:

“These awards give us an opportunity to acknowledge the excellent work taking place across the country to improve the low employment rates experienced by people with autism, learning disabilities and mental health conditions. It’s particularly pleasing to see the wide range of organisations nominated for these awards and our congratulations go to all the winners and commended nominees. Their work is vital and shows just how important quality support is, both to jobseekers and employers.”

Councillor Spiros Vassiliou, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture & Heritage, said:

“The council’s Employment Support Team play a vital role in empowering our communities, businesses and residents to thrive. The last 18 months have been challenging for us all, but the team has continued to help individuals to meet and exceed their goals and employers to continue to access an untapped pool of talent in our city. This award is excellent recognition of all their hard work and ambition to Get Southampton Moving.”