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BaxterStorey and Social Bite join up to support those impacted by homelessness back into work

Charity Social Bite has partnered with BaxterStorey to launch a pioneering new initiative to help revolutionise the access people who have experienced homelessness have to job opportunities across the UK. Through its new ‘Jobs First’ programme, Social Bite will work directly with BaxterStorey and some of the UK’s biggest employers to help break down the barriers people who have been homeless face on their route to employment

The initiative, which guarantees living wage employment for each person, will provide wrap around support for both the employer and employee.

Each ‘Jobs First’ employee will be allocated a support worker from Social Bite who will assist them throughout the programme and their employment contract, meeting weekly to offer practical support on bills and forms, as well as emotional guidance and confidence building to adapt to working life.

Social Bite will provide training to each employer to help them appropriately guide the employee while the support worker will help facilitate appraisal processes and employee progress.

As part of the programme, BaxterStorey has committed to employing a 1/3 of all its staff within the Social Bite cafes through the Job First programme, as well as exploring further partnership opportunities to open more Social Bite cafes within the UK.

Data in London shows that between April and June this year, the number of people sleeping on the streets increased by 25 per cent, making Social Bite’s ‘Jobs First’ initiative even more timely. Firms across the UK are also sounding the alarm over staff shortages, with Britain’s worst labour shortage in decades putting economic recovery from lockdown at risk.

George Watson kickstarted the programme today, taking on his role with hospitality provider BaxterStorey which supplies Royal Bank’s Gogarburn headquarters in Edinburgh where Social Bite recently opened a café.

Josh Littlejohn MBE, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Bite, said: “Social Bite started life nine years ago by offering jobs in a small café to people who had experienced homelessness and over that time we have seen the power of employment to change lives.”

Too often, the response to people experiencing homelessness is to ‘get a job’ – however, it’s not that easy. Proactive employers stepping out of their comfort zone to provide chances for those who would otherwise be excluded and a wraparound support alongside the job are the solutions.

“That’s why the Jobs First programme is so important. We will match people who are excluded from the jobs market with some of the UK’s largest employers.

Over the past four years, Social Bite has supported 34 people who have experienced homelessness into employment and in total, they aim for one quarter of their workforce to come from a background of homelessness.

Operations manager, Caroline Bacigalupo at BaxterStorey, said: “Jobs First is a fantastic programme and we’re proud to be working with Social Bite to offer training and employment opportunities to people who were previously homeless.

“We’re all thrilled to welcome George on board and can’t wait to support other Jobs First employees reach their full potential as the programme develops.”

George Watson said: “Social Bite has been like my family for the past seven years. I am really excited to start my job role with BaxterStorey. I am grateful for the Jobs First programme and hope it will help many others into employment.”

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