Getting Back into Work
Since 2010 Twist has been working with Seetec and G4S to deliver the Work Programme in East and South London and the Home Counties. We also work with Reed in Partnership for the DWP programme for Families with Multiple Barriers. Because of Twist’s success with people with signficant challenges and with ‘hard to reach’ groups, such as those from migrant and refugee backgrounds, we are often chosen as a specialist provider. We also have commissions directly from NHS Trusts and JobcentrePlus, especially for clients with mental health and musculoskeletal issues.
A Better Way of Working
People say about us that we are “totally different” and “a breath of fresh air”. Because almost everyone who works for Twist has disability, illnesses or what is generally regarded as a “barrier” to work, and yet has succeeded in getting their lives back on track, they can lead by example. Focussing on enterprise and practical activity, they offer understanding and encouragement rather than tea and sympathy. And because they have all been through the system themselves, they know better than anyone how to flick that switch that can restore hope and self-belief, putting people back on the road to personal and financial independence. A leadership group within Twist devised the award-winning Better Way programme which has proved to be better boith for people and Providers, delivering significantly improved results in terms of progression and job outcomes.
Twist works successfully with a wide range of people, but because of its dramatic and transformational impact on people with “barriers” it is often chosen as a specialist partner to improve engagement and job entry. Although used to working with diverse groups, Twist now has specialist teams that deliver can distinct projects within the Better Way programme.[
for people suffering from mental illness including anxiety, depression and social isolation. The delivery team includes staff and volunteers who have experience in mental health issues (diagnosed and undiagnosed) including trauma and abuse.
A programme for people limited by physical difficulties, exploring ways of managing their capability for work. Often run at unusual venues such as theatre spaces and nature reserves, expectations are raised and physical and mental exercise activities provided including Yoga, Mindfulness and Self-Defence. Many groups also act as advocates, helping employers to improve accessibility and retain staff with mental or physical problems.
A specialist group of people who have learnt English as a second language run an innovative project for ESOL clients which focuses on their existing skills ahead of their educational needs, believing that lack of confidence can be the main impediment to communication and that finding placements or work speeds up ESOL learners’ ability to speak and write English more effectively than College classes on their own. This group has set up an influential project in partnership with the NHS to cut Diabetes and Heart Disease in Asian and African communities in the UK and a number of participants have found paid work in the sector.
For people with experience of homelessness combined with drug and alcohol addiction. This sub-group of the Better Way programme is called “Opening Doors” and encourages participants to become involved in a “grow to feed” project, incorporating growing on allotments and cooking and distributing at soup kitchens. Food Hygiene and cooking training are provided. People have described being part of the project as “getting their lives back” and beginning “to feel proud of themselves”.[
Better Way programmes take place at venues rented by Twist or are co-located in healthcare or community centres belonging to partner agencies. They are chosen to reflect the particular interests and aspirations of participants. A group of Work Programme clients (below left) meet at the Avenue Theatre Ipswich for a variety of enterprise and training sessions, including cafeteria management and actor-led workshops designed to build confidence and interview skills.
THE TWIST PARTNERSHIP
To deliver Work Programme projects in hard-to-reach communities, Twist developed an innovative partnership with several community and charitable organisations. This partnership was praised by Chris Grayling, then Minister for Employment.