Homeless charity helps residents find work

FOR thousands Anchor House has been the light at the end of a tunnel of despair, unemployement and homelessness. Now the Canning Town charity’s instinting work helping people develop vital skills has been recognised with a prestigious training award.

Anchor House was among 29 organisations to receive Regional Training Awards at a ceremony held at The Brewery, central London.

The charity was declared UK winner in the Providing Education and Training category for its work in “empowering a deprived community and its homeless residents”. It will now go on to compete against other winners in the national leg of the competition.

Anchor House, which is based in Barking Road, Canning Town, has a residential and life centre which is home to 118 people. It has been successful in housing and training homeless people with deprived backgrounds, multiple criminal offences and drug addictions, and helping them back to work.

From April 2007 to April 2010, it developed and ran the Aspirations Programme, offering personal development plans to every resident, and a welcome host course aimed at improving their communication skills.

This used a mixture of classroom, one-to-one and computer based training, depending on the capabilities of each individual.

The programme was conducted by the charity’s own staff, as well as external providers on site and at other venues. In the last year, Anchor House had over 1000 training programme achievements in 12 training streams.

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Since the introduction of the Aspirations Programme, the charity has seen the employment rate of its trainees rise from five a year to 39, which is a significant achievement considering clients’ lack of motivation and personal difficulties.

Anchor House Director Keith Fernett said: “Our clients range from being illiterate to degree holders, from the motivated to those who have not worked in 20 years. We measure success by the number back in work, the number rehoused, the reduction in offending and the development of community cohesion.

“Our aim is to get our residents to be good citizens, capable of independent living and able to work. The cost benefits for society are immense. With unemployment alone we have saved society about �1 million by reducing the benefits bill. A heroin addict can cost society up to �700,000, and we are saving a considerable amount each year. We have reduced the rate of offending saving an average of �60,000 per annum.”

The awards are run on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by UK Skills, the National Training Awards inspire and encourage British industry to invest in training and development as a way of achieving organisational and individual success.