The value of ‘firsts’: An employment skills workshop with Chaucer

The value of ‘firsts’: An employment skills workshop with Chaucer

News article from March 23, 2018

Primary schools are all about new experiences for young children: making new friends, learning new things and getting to know new teachers. For most children, it’s a lot to take in. The children supported by School-Home Support (SHS) have increased barriers to learning, and issues like poverty and poor housing mean parents can struggle to prioritise their children’s education and help them make the most of their ‘firsts’. School-Home Support works with parents to improve children’s school attendance, engagement in learning and behaviour at school. We also help parents to resolve the issues that are making things harder for their children, and one of those is issues can be unemployment resulting in financial hardship. Many of the parents we work with are also keen to find work but need help to take their first steps towards securing paid employment: even writing a CV can be totally new for them.

We were delighted to host an employment skills workshop last week with our partner, specialty insurance group Chaucer Plc. A total of twelve parents came along for the morning and were matched with a volunteer from Chaucer to start work on the basics. Without this specific support provided by Chaucer, it would be a huge challenge for parents to get together their first CV. The workshop also gave the women a valuable opportunity to have their first conversation with someone working in business about career pathways.

A total of six volunteers from Chaucer Plc worked intensively with the group in one of our primary schools in Tower Hamlets, helping them get ready to search for work. For many of the parents attending, they hadn’t even created their own email address before, so that was an essential first step. Equipping parents with these practical tools was only part of the morning’s work, however: Chaucer volunteers got to put their soft skills to the test, as they skilfully built rapport and coached the women, helping them realise and then articulate their skills. It was an intensive and busy morning for everyone involved. Spending quality time with someone working in business was a first for all of the parents supported last week; a valuable new experience that boosted the women’s self-esteem and confidence.

“This was really good and much better than I hoped it would be. My lady was really nice; she helped me a lot.” – Mum of child in year two


“Thank you so much for helping. I am very glad I came this morning because it’s been really helpful and I didn’t know what to do next.” – Mum of two children


“This has been really beneficial for parents; everyone has told me how pleased they are with the support they were given. Chaucer staff were wonderful and really helped our parents feel proud and confident. Being at home and focussing on family responsibilities often means the mums I support struggle to believe in themselves. Today has changed that, they are feeling much more confident.” – Taslima Sultana, SHS Practitioner

School-Home Support (SHS) relies on volunteer support from our corporate partners to raise family aspirations and to help parents develop new skills. We work specifically with Chaucer Plc to improve the educational outcomes for children in Tower Hamlets and break down barriers to learning. Helping parents into employment, as well as their children in school, is an important first step – a big thank you to Chaucer!

“It was a great morning. The women were open, welcoming and really excited to get a CV together. It was fun collaborating with them to create a CV and very rewarding to help them start to use Microsoft Word which my two participants hadn’t used before.” – Jodie Major, Chaucer

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