Housing association Metropolitan is working with local social enterprise Streetwise Environmental Ltd to provide employment opportunities for its customers in Nottingham.
Streetwise provides the social landlord with a grounds maintenance service – and as part of its contract offers Metropolitan residents the chance to apply for 12-week paid placements to help them develop new skills and gain valuable work experience.
Streetwise is Rushcliffe Borough Council’s grounds maintenance and cleansing service and became an independent social enterprise in 2014.
It has worked across Metropolitan’s housing estates in Nottinghamshire since last year and six of its 30 employees are Metropolitan residents.
Zoe Gill, aged 38, who has been a Metropolitan customer for seven years, started working with Streetwise last summer and was asked to stay on after her placement came to an end.
“I was ecstatic when I was first offered the job,” she said. “Getting this work has turned my life around. It keeps me busy and gives me a real sense of pride to do a good job.
“I was on the lookout for work but with three kids to take care of at home, I couldn’t work full day shifts. My boss offered me flexible hours, though, so that really helped.
“I know how to do things now that I knew nothing about before, like how to maintain my garden. I find I’m exhausted at the end of the day but it’s a good feeling. I really enjoy working outside and being part of a team.”
Jenny Danson, executive housing services director at Metropolitan, said: “We are delighted to partner with Streetwise and Rushcliffe Borough Council to support our customers in gaining the skills necessary to get into employment.
“As an organisation, we believe the best way we can support our customers is by helping them into work, so they can become more independent.”
John Scott-Lee, managing director at Streetwise Environmental Ltd, said: “Since Streetwise was successful in securing the contract with Metropolitan, we have been delighted to improve estate environments for their residents.
“It’s been particularly rewarding to go further and work closely with the housing association to identify and help residents seeking work.
“We were fortunate to find Zoe who has gone from strength to strength as a full-time employee at Streetwise and who is also an ambassador and mentor for us.
“Zoe’s success shows what can be accomplished when two partner organisations are keen to make things happen.
“At Streetwise, we are also working with the ‘St Anns in Bloom’ campaign, where we will be carrying out planting workshops and showing residents how much more they can get out of the environment they are living in.”
Councillor Nigel Lawrence said: “The social franchise model enables organisations such as Metropolitan to partner with Streetwise and provide services under a recognised banner and still access the supporting infrastructure that the council provides. Social values and principles of local growth and employment are central to what Streetwise does.”