Levelling up in action: celebrating our first year delivering the Restart Scheme

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As we mark the first anniversary of the Restart Scheme, Gareth Parry reflects on how we are playing a vital role in helping to level up the country.

“This is a special week for Maximus. We are delighted to be celebrating the first anniversary of our delivery of the Restart Scheme with local events taking place around the country.

Over the past 12 months, working with the Department for Work and Pensions and our local delivery partners, we have helped thousands of people most impacted by the pandemic to retrain and find employment in South & East London, South & West Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

It has taken a fantastic effort to get where we are today. Over 800 Maximus colleagues are devoting their time and energy to making the scheme a success. Together with our delivery partners we’ve set up over 20 offices and dozens of outreach sites across our regions. And we’ve taken a sector-leading community-based approach, with more than 100 members of our Community Partnership Network which brings together the best of the local public, private and charity sectors. By establishing strategic partnerships with local authorities, we’ve worked to better align employment, skills and support services in local areas, improving access and funding provision that works.

The ultimate measure of the scheme’s success, however, is the impact it has on people’s lives. In our Annual Review and on our website we feature some of these stories, but Beth* and Mo’s stand out to me. Beth* was in an abusive relationship which she left and sought refuge in a women’s shelter. After being referred to us she not only found her first ever job but permanent housing too, allowing her to work and support her children. Her testimony speaks for itself: ‘The scheme changed my life, and I am so grateful for that’.

Mo was, like so many, made redundant in April 2020 at the height of the Covid lockdown. He had applied for hundreds of roles without success until he was given the tailored support he needed through our Employment Support Hub. Within six weeks of joining the Restart Scheme, Mo had retrained and found a full-time role at leading retailer Timpson.

At Maximus our mission is to transform lives by helping people on their journey to meaningful employment.

We are playing a vital role in helping to level up the country at a time of economic change and uncertainty: spreading opportunity and reducing inequality within some of the hardest to reach communities.

In the recent Queen’s Speech, the Government made it a clear priority to ‘level up opportunity in all parts of the country, supporting more people into work’. I believe that the Restart Scheme, and the wider employability sector, can evidence levelling up in action. Our work rests upon two essential principles: spreading opportunity and reducing inequality in communities across the country.

The Restart Scheme is the latest manifestation of these principles but they are principles that we as a business can trace back over 70 years. Remploy, which joined Maximus in 2015, has a proud and proven track record of working with disabled people and delivering truly life-transforming outcomes. Our sector was focussed on levelling-up employment opportunities long before it became central to government policy.

There is still much to do to level-up the labour market, and we’re committed to playing our part to address the structural and regional challenges that remain. For now though, a very happy first birthday to the Restart Scheme. We couldn’t be prouder of the work our colleagues are doing.”

*Participant’s name has been changed to protect their identity.

30 June, 2022