The winners of the ERSA Employability Awards 2017, sponsored by Clarion Housing Group, were announced last night at an evening ceremony attended by the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt MP, and hosted by BBC journalist Kirsty Lang. The Minister provided a keynote speech at the event, highlighting excellence in sector’s work to transform people’s lives every day.
The ERSA Employability Awards are now in their fifth year. The awards showcase and champion best practice from across the employment support sector, celebrating and recognising the hard work and achievements of those involved in supporting people into work. This ranges from advisors and partners working one-to-one with jobseekers at the frontline, to employers who look beyond traditional barriers, such as a criminal record, to the jobseekers themselves moving into employment. 
This year the awards judges included Heidi Allen MP, a member of the Work and Pensions Committee in the last Parliament; a senior official from the Department for Work and Pensions; a senior researcher at the Resolution Foundation; and last year’s winner of the Adviser of the Year Award, Keith Tottingham.
Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA, said:
“These awards celebrate the very best in class – the frontline advisers and partners who go above and beyond to support people into work, the businesses who give employees a chance in their workforce and the jobseekers themselves, who often overcome a range of barriers to enter work and transform their lives and those around them.  This year, the entries were of a particularly high quality and our judges had an extremely difficult task picking the winners.
“Their work deserves to be recognised and the awards give us an opportunity to say thank you and celebrate their achievements.”
The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt MP said:
“It’s truly inspiring to hear stories about the excellent work that businesses are doing to help people get into, and stay in employment . This would not be possible without the tireless efforts of frontline staff who make such a difference to people’s lives every single day.
“Congratulations to all this year’s winners – I hope their success will encourage others to go the extra mile in helping people to overcome any barriers to employment.”
ERSA is delighted to announce the following winners of the 2017 award:
Innovation Award – sponsored by entitledto:  Recognising a provider who has pioneered innovative approaches and solutions within the employment support market.
Winner: The House of St Barnabas aims to break the cycle of homelessness by providing training, work experience and employment opportunities. They do this through its City & Guilds accredited,
Employment Academy, which runs 12-week employment programmes in its integrated not-for-profit members’ club in Soho, London.
Adviser of the Year- sponsored by Alderwood: Recognising an employment advisor who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in a frontline role.
Winner: Adrian Bailey, Prisoners Abroad. Adrian works for Prisoners Abroad, the humanitarian charity providing welfare and emotional support to people affected by overseas imprisonment.   Adrian initiated the Work Preparation Programme which provides employment support to those who have been in prison overseas, including guidance on how to disclose convictions.  Adrian’s personal experience of imprisonment enables him to reach individuals in a very effective way.
Large Employer of the Year – sponsored by Shaw Trust: Recognising a large employer who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long term unemployed jobseekers.
Winner: TC Facilities Management nominated by Remploy. TC is a client services business providing cleaning services to some of the UK's most recognisable companies. They are in their tenth year of a partnership with Remploy and have successfully placed 1037 people with a disability in employment, with 67% of those lasting 13 weeks or more.
Youth Employment - sponsored by APM: This award seeks to recognise an exemplar provider who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to helping young people (aged 16 – 24) overcome barriers to enter and maintain work.
Winner: Access to Industry is an Edinburgh-based third sector organisation which has been delivering employability services to Young Offenders since 2006. In the last financial year, its Passport Project helped 221 young people in and out of HM Youth Offending Institute Polmont, 42 of whom entered into employment, with a further 52 completing work placements and training.  
Team of the Year Award – sponsored by the Institute of Employability Professionals: Recognising a team of frontline staff which has demonstrated outstanding commitment in meeting and exceeding the delivery aims of an employment provider
Winner: Radian: Employment Support and Training Team. In 2012, social housing provider, Radian, set up its Employment Support and Training team to and provide employment support to residents and thus address issues such as anti-social behaviour.  Since 2012, it has worked with over 2500 residents and helped over 550 into employment and provided training and support for 1600. 
SME of the Year – sponsored by the Telecoms World: Recognising a small or medium employer who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long term unemployed jobseekers.
Winner: Clacket Lane Motorway Services (nominated by Shaw Trust). Over eight years, Clacket Lane Motorway Services has hired over 160 people over the delivery of the Work Programme. They are an employer who continues to employ people despite the changes to our sector. Clacket Lane has also supported a number of Shaw Trust customers who have since become team leaders, supervisors and managers.
Disability and Health Employment – sponsored by Pluss: Recognising an employment services provider who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in supporting jobseekers with limiting disabilities and health conditions to achieve sustained employment.
Winner: Royal British Legion Industries delivers a wide range of successful contracts aimed at supporting people with disabilities and health conditions into work, including Access to Work and Lifeworks, which sees 83% of individuals move into employment, training or volunteering within 12 months.
Partner of the Year – sponsored by ICONI: Recognising excellence as a delivery partner in the field of employment support.
Winner: Get Set, nominated by G4S. Get Set joined the G4S Community Work Placements Supply Chain in August 2015 and have, since day one, delivered outstanding performance to support over 200 people into work and/or placement within 15 months of delivery.
Significant Achiever of the Year – sponsored by Working Links: Recognising a specific jobseeker who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to overcoming barriers to enter and maintain work.
Winner: Karla Gardner. Karla first ran into problems with drugs at the tender age of 12, culminating in a heroin addiction at 18 which lasted for a decade. After coming into contact with the criminal justice system several times due to her addiction, Karla was separated from her children and sentenced to 19 months in Holloway prison in April 2015.
Whilst in prison Karla quit heroin, attended Working Chance workshops, completed professional courses and was released ten months early. Soon after release, she registered with Working Chance and on the same day was helped to apply for a job with William Hill.
Within a month she had started the new job and six months later was promoted to Manager. She now acts as a Working Chance advocate within William Hill, promoting the hiring of women with convictions. She has been reunited with her children and in June 2017 will celebrate two years of sobriety.


Lifetime Achievement – sponsored by Serco: Recognising an exceptional individual who has dedicated a significant part of their career to the employment related services sector and has made a notable impact on the wider sector.
Winner: Initially starting her career in HR, Tracy has dedicated the last 20 years to improving the lives of others and championing best practice in the employability sector. From 1988, Tracy worked at Knowsley Council, progressing through to Head of Employment and Skills, initiating 13 employment programmes and winning numerous awards along the way with her team. Taking the leap in 2008, Tracy built a highly successful consultancy business before setting up her own Social Enterprise, the Transform Lives Company in 2014.
ERSA Award
About ERSA: ERSA is the representative body of the employment support sector. It has around 250 members, spanning the public, private and voluntary sectors. Three quarters of ERSA’s members are not for profit. ERSA’s membership is drawn from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with dedicated networks, in Scotland (Employment Support Scotland), Greater Manchester and London. ERSA works across the UK to support members and commissioners at both a national and regional level.

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