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Strive in East Dunbartonshire

25 June 2010 

The Lennox Partnership's STRIVE in Dunbartonshire initiative recently held a celebration event to mark the occasion of delivering its 50th Workshop, and to recognise the achievements of a number of STRIVE graduates with a "Special Recognition Award".

STRIVE was introduced to Scotland by The Lennox Partnership in 2006, having been identified during a Dunbartonshire Employability Partnership study visit to New York in 2004. The founder of STRIVE, Rob Carmona developed the programme in East Harlem to support the "hardest to reach" clients, and was based on a range of attitudinal change processes he had experienced while serving time in prison.

Operating now as a franchise across many states in America, Israel and London, STRIVE continues to achieve excellent job outcome rates with an average success rate of over 65% of STRIVE graduates moving into jobs.

The project was introduced to Dunbartonshire to fill a gap in provision for unemployed clients facing multiple barriers to employment, including incapacity benefit recipients, ex-offenders, recovering addicts, lone parents, and those who had previous experience of support through National Programmes, but had not progressed to employment.

STRIVE is a three week "essential skills" workshop aimed at boosting confidence, raising self esteem, and enhancing clients employment prospects, consisting of a total of 22 activities and exercises, which have been specifically designed to help and support those who are experiencing difficulties in overcoming their barriers to employment. No other service delivered in Scotland attempts to tackle these issues and barriers in the direct manner of STRIVE, which has been described previously as "tough love", and although potentially very challenging for the clients on the programme, the benefits for those who complete are enormous.

Since its introduction in 2006, the project has supported over 220 clients into sustainable employment, and is currently supported by The Big Lottery, Department for Work and Pensions, the Fairer Scotland Fund, and LUPS EU Funding.

The purpose of the Celebration event, which was sponsored by the Big Lottery, was to bring together new STRIVE clients, STRIVE graduates, local politicians, employers, funders and partners. As well as hearing the experiences of the STRIVE graduates, and the "life changing effect" the programme has had on them, we also had input from one of the many local employers, who support the initiative, and who have benefitted from recruiting from the STRIVE programme.

As with many employers the key attribute required for any new recruit is the "correct attitude", which as was apparent from the presentation STRIVE graduates have "in abundance"

The second part of the event involved a workshop session, where each of the groups discussed the question "How can the STRIVE project continue to meet your existing and future needs" from the perspective of clients, funders employers and partners. The outputs of the workshop session will be used as the basis of a development plan for the project over the coming year.

Feedback from the 80+ attendees on the day has been hugely positive, confirming that despite the current difficult economic conditions that prevail the STRIVE project continues to prepare clients well, to compete effectively for the more limited employment opportunities that exist.

For further information please contact Blyth Deans, Chief Executive, The Lennox Partnership at blyth.deans@thelennoxpartnership.org.