Offering young unemployed people the opportunity to learn new skills and experience while giving them the chance to improve their confidence at the same time, has earned a Fife charitable company a special accolade.
Fife Shopping and Support Services has scooped a prestigious Investors in Young People award in recognition of the work it has been doing with young people.
The Investors in Young People Accreditation is the only people management standard that focuses on an employer’s recruitment and retention of young people.
The organisation has already received recognition for its services to support elderly housebound and disabled adults in the community.
And now the charity has been rewarded for its placement scheme which offers retail experience to young unemployed people.
Peter Russian, chief executive of Investors in People Scotland, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Fife Shopping and Support Services.
“The whole IIYP team would like to wholeheartedly congratulate them. The Investors in Young People framework not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, but marks them out as an employer of choice.”
Fife Shopping and Support Services was founded nearly six years ago in September 2010 following the closure of Fife Council’s shopping delivery service.
It provides assistance to vulnerable elderly people and adults who are unable to carry out daily living activities and tasks. This includes help with shopping, housework, gardening and befriending services.
As well as the core service, which is based at Collydean Cottage in Glenrothes, the charity also has a shop at 241 High Street in Kirkcaldy. This helps generate an income to support the work of the company.
The unit offers second-hand clothes, shoes, bric-a-brac, books and children’s toys.
Since it opened in August 2014, the shop has also been offering placements to young people who are out of work.
Lynne Ogilvie, director, said: “Marion Edwards, who is the shop manager in Kirkcaldy, oversees the placements which are referred to us from various places including the Job Centre, Fife College, Learn Direct, IDTC and Skills Development Scotland.
“The idea behind the placements, which can last from eight weeks up to a year, is to give the young ones who may be finding it difficult to secure work an opportunity to learn - about retail, admin and working in the care sector.
“As well as helping young people who are unemployed, we are also helping vulnerable young people, particularly those with learning difficulties, who might struggle to gain the skills for employment otherwise.
“We are giving them the chance to learn new skills, but we are also helping build up their self-esteem and confidence. It’s very satisfying to watch them blossom through working with us.”
Lynne explained how Fife Shopping Services was selected for the accolade. She said: “I approached Skills Development Scotland to ask for advice on how I would go about offering young people accredited training as opposed to just placements.
“I was working with Skills Development Scotland about trying to find opportunities to give young people the chance of accredited training.
“They suggested we would be perfect for the Investors in Young People award. The Investors in Young People did a consultation over three days in March – they spoke with all the staff members and found out about the work we are doing to support young people.
“They came to the shop and to the community cottage. After this they informed us last month they were delighted to be giving us Investors in Young People accreditation.
“To be given this award is fantastic. It is a little bit of recognition for the work we are doing – not just for the staff but for the young people as well. When our placements first come in they have low self esteem, but over the weeks they become much more confident and it is really nice to see. We are also delighted to have been able to offer paid work to four young people through the Community Job Scotland fund.”
Confidence after placement
Linzi Duffy (25), from Glenrothes, is currently on placement in the shop. She started an initial eight-week placement in October last year before returning in January for 26 weeks. She has learned various skills since working there, including till training, pricing donations and gaining more confidence in speaking to regular customers.
Lynne said: “When Linzi first came to the shop her self esteem was low, but since working with us she has really built up her confidence. She has also learned various skills including doing the weekly banking.”
Linzi said: “I can speak to people more and feel much more confident about applying for jobs.”