An initiative aimed at giving people the self-belief and skills to get back to work has now supported more than two thousand people.
Ignite, part of charitable housing association BCHA, has run free courses based at the organisation’s HQ at St Swithuns House in Bournemouth since 2010.
The six-week programme, focusing on self-development and well-being, is available to anyone over 19 who is unemployed or about to lose their job.
Ignite, which celebrates its 10th birthday next year, stages a range of workshops and tailored to build self-esteem, confidence and achievement which are delivered by experienced development coaches.
During its near decade of existence Ignite has run 217 courses with latest statistics showing that 97 per cent of learners reported an increase in their motivation, 88 per cent an increase in their confidence and 85 per cent achieved a qualification.
More than 100 learners had also found employment or a voluntary role.
The programme is currently delivered by the in-house team of Jamie Clarke, Kate Coughlan, Irwin Edgehill, Mark Shaw, Dominic Smith and Miles Mahoney.
Ignite Project Manager Jamie Clarke said: “We understand the perception of isolation from society, apprehension and vulnerability which affects numerous people.
“I am heartened, therefore, that we have been able to help a great many of our customers to develop new skills, meet challenges and seize opportunities.
“Indeed, many of them have gone on to take other courses we run, expand their knowledge still further and achieve their goals – with some going on to work with us at BCHA.
“We provide a relaxed and friendly environment with workshops held informally in small group settings to help customers make lasting positive changes.”
Workshops offered by Ignite include Stress and Anxiety Management, Steps to Change, Building Resilience, Art as Relaxation, Money Skills, Confidence and Self-Esteem Building, Assertiveness and Emotional and Physical Well-being.
As a National Open College Network (NOCN) accredited centre, Ignite also offers a range of qualifications which include, Skills for Work, Level 1 Horticulture, Digital Life Skills, Level 1 IT user skills, Level 1 Skills for Supporting Others.
Support comes from the likes of the Education & Skills Funding Agency, Skills & Learning Bournemouth, Dorset & Poole, and The Learning Curve, which enables the courses to be offered free of charge.
These are run across varying numbers of weeks with new course programmes starting regularly. Many participants also go on to the New Directions scheme designed to identify routes into employment or further education.
Testimonials from past course participants show a deep gratitude for the work Ignite carries out.
These include from Sarah, who became a student veterinary nurse, who said: “Thank you for all your advice and courses from the Ignite programme – you have helped give me the confidence to pursue my ambition.”
Another participant said: “I am grateful to have been referred to BCHA who have given me the tools to reassess my life and to achieve more happiness for myself. I had nobody to turn to and you made me feel I was not alone in the world.”
A third customer added: “I was struggling through thick mud and fog before I came – and ended up in the bright sunshine. I have realised it’s never too late to learn more life lessons.”
Other messages of thanks included:
“The Ignite programme makes you feel you are part of a team, people with similar issues and problems. It is all done in a friendly, relaxed and helpful environment, and done by a team who really have your best interests at heart. Thank you!”
“I want to thank all the coaches for the work they’ve done towards my life. I can’t thank you enough – you made me put a smile again! Much love to all to my fellow mates, who have been with me in all the workshops. I really enjoyed the company and laughs. I will miss everybody and I wish all the best of luck in life. Thanks so much BCHA, you are Godsent’.
“Ignite – it is where you have to be; it is where I understand that I count. I understand I’m important, that I am a normal person and that the differences are only in my mind. Ignite is the next step in my change for the better. This course helped me understand what changes I have to make and not be afraid of change. The change is good!”
One woman’s own story
After 30 years of alcohol misuse, my life eventually began to fall apart. Following a series of tragedies I was referred to BCHA.
I had been through a really rough time when I was referred to the pattern changing course run by BCHA. It was wonderful.
Having given up alcohol I was inspired by life without it, and thoroughly believe that anybody can turn their life around. It gave me the desire to work with people that had suffered from addiction – so I contacted BCHA and did an amazing course called Ignite.
This six week programme focuses on your self-development and wellbeing and led to me into getting voluntary work in a rehab centre. After this, I did a number of other courses including confidence and personal development programmes.
They were so holistic – improving my self-esteem and teaching me that I had life skills and transferrable skills, and that whatever happens I have the confidence to cope with what life throws at me.
I’m now looking to qualify as an adult education teacher and then hopefully one day as a life coach. I just know my future will get better and better and better.
“I found happiness and I never knew what it was. You can change the way you feel – it’s your choice.”