Some eighteen months ago we were able to announce the approval of the ERA project led by Enterprise Enfield with project partners Enterprise Enfield, Gingerbread, Barnet and Southgate College and Rinova. Since then we have been busy delivering the project, which has seen an on-going increase in demand for its services.
ERA (Enfield Rises and Achieves) is designed to enable residents from the London Borough of Enfield to enhance their employability prospects and support their journey into long-term employment or self-employment. It is financed by London Councils, the London Borough of Enfield and the European Social Fund.
To June 2014, ERA has provided some 320 people with initial employment counselling and guidance. Almost 50 have had work experience placements, whereas 128 people have started employment, and thus far 50 have completed six months or more in a sustained job. Commenting on these figures, which are either on course, almost on profile or exceeding their profiled targets, Despina Johnson, Chief Executive of Enterprise Enfield, commenting on progress to date said “The project is well on course to fully achieve and exceed its targets by the project close”.
Such figures, as good as they are, do not show the stories behind them. One such success is that of former nurse manager, Gladys Anoquah (pictured below). Following her participation in a start-up support course at Enterprise Enfield, she realised she required extra advice and guidance to set up her care agency business, so she enrolled on ERA. Business Adviser Liz Gjoni worked closely with her to explore her options and recommended a vacant unit at the RSA Island Centre at Enfield Lock. She also helped Gladys develop her financial forecasts, which were then sent to the managing agents to demonstrate the financial viability of the business and Liz acted as a referee to verify that the new business was able to take on the commitment of the rental.
Gladys was successful in securing the unit and opened her new premises at the RSA Island Centre in August 2013. Since then her company, Natgab Services, has grown quickly and firmly established its place amongst care providers – offering a comprehensive range of 24 hour care services including: palliative, respite and domiciliary care as well as hospital to home care and companionship. It has already won local authority contracts including consultancy work with Haringey and North East London Clinical Commissioning Group.
Natgab Services has taken on 46 staff – 7 employees were participants on the ERA programme themselves, having received employability skills training and support through the scheme. Gladys said “The support I received under ERA enabled me to complete my business plan and financials, secure great premises and get my business up and running. Our close links to Enterprise Enfield meant that we were able to recruit suitable staff quickly – as they already had a pool of candidates looking for work in the care sector. We are recruiting more staff and plan to expand throughout the UK over the next 5 years – including opening care homes and nursing homes. Without the invaluable advice and support I received, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much in this relatively short timeframe.”
Looking ahead, alongside ERA, Enterprise Enfield has also launched the Excel project together with its Career Clinic – inviting local employers to speak to ERA/ Excel participants about career paths and recruitment processes in their industries. These are held on Friday lunchtimes at the Enfield Business Centre. In September Enterprise Enfield will be opening a pop up shop in Enfield Town (for 1 month). ERA/Excel participants will be invited to test trade their products/ services in the shop and build up their customers and sales.
Julie Parish of Rinova said “First ERA and now Excel are two great examples of locally-embedded and relevant initiatives that offer local people excellent support, experience and direct connections with labour market opportunities“.
For more details about both the ERA and Excel programmes, contact Enterprise Enfield on 020 8443 5457.
London Councils is committed to fighting for more resources for London and getting the best possible deal for London’s 33 councils. London Councils has a website about its grants service. To read about our grants funding and the work of some of the 300 groups we support please visit www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/grants