Big Issue Group’s specialist recruitment service reports more than £755,000 of social value in first year

Big Issue Recruit (BIR) has released its first impact report, which details more than £755,000 of social value in its first year of operation.

The report from the Big Issue Group’s (BIG) specialist recruitment service, designed for people facing barriers to work, has revealed that in its first year of trading, BIR has registered and supported 109 candidates. 80 candidates have so far been put forward for vacancies, with 43 securing employment.

BIR has established a social value framework which can be used to demonstrate the monetary social value of its work using financial proxies. These proxies have been influenced by previous Social Return on Investment work carried out by BIG.

In its first year of trading to September 2023, BIR is estimated to have delivered more than £755,000 in social value. With a total cost base of £278,000, this means for every £1 spent on operational costs £2.72 of social value was delivered.

This comes at a time when the rate of unemployment in the UK was 4.2%, and 1.45 million people aged 16+ were unemployed. Unemployment levels increased by 206,000 on the year and were 77,000 above pre-pandemic levels.

However, with nearly 1 million job vacancies in the UK and 531,200 skill-shortage vacancies in 2022, more than twice the corresponding number in 2017 (226,500), the reported success of BIR, shows that, with the right approach people can be moved into sustainable employment.

BIR Job Coaches work closely with all candidates to ensure they are upskilled in appropriate areas and equipped with the tools required to successfully move into, and sustain, employment. When Job Coaches are confident that candidates are ready to successfully take the next step, the candidate will be deemed to have achieved ‘Work Ready’ status. To date, 75 candidates have achieved Ready to Work status.

BIR has achieved its success in social impact and social value generation with just two Job Coaches supporting candidates. As BIR moves into its second year of operations it is aiming for each Job Coach to be supporting at least 75 candidates into employment. That means for each additional Job Coach employed by BIR, an additional 75 individuals can be supported into sustainable employment, generating an additional social value of approximately £1.4 million.

There is a huge opportunity to get more people into work and generate an enormous amount of social value in the UK through services like BIR. As of July 2023, there were 520,000 individuals facing unemployment in the UK for periods exceeding 6 months, this represents 35% of all individuals facing unemployment. It is these individuals who are facing long term barriers to re-entering the workforce that BIR exists to support.

If those 520,000 individuals could all be supported into employment opportunities through services like BIR, it could generate a potential, total social value of more than £12 billion for individuals, communities, and the UK economy.

Mokhammed Moradi, 42, was forced to leave Kyiv and flee to the UK 12 months ago. He secured a role working as a warehouse operative at C&C, a premium drinks company and partner of BIR, in the London warehouse. He wants to train as a forklift operator and eventually a truck driver: “Shak helped me with my interview, with what to do and what to say. He told me to follow the history and know a little about the company, and he told me questions to prepare myself for before the interview. I was very happy when I got the job. I said to Shak: ‘Thank you for your help. I’m very happy. You helped me and it worked.’”

Shak Dean, a Job Coach at BIR, said: “I’ve been buzzing about it since he got the job. With Mokhammed’s story, you’re living your life, and something happens, and your life gets turned upside down. But it’s about having someone who takes the time and the effort to guide you, rather than ticking boxes.”

Katy Wright, Programme Director at BIR, said: “We launched Big Issue Recruit in September 2022, with a very clear objective: to give marginalised people the same access to job opportunities as everyone else. We seized an opportunity and launched in a job market where there were as many people seeking work as there were vacancies. We worked alongside our wonderful founding partners C&C Group and Permira, placing candidates in great roles.

“Towards the end of our first year, we opened up new partnerships with national operators in sectors like hospitality and care. We have demonstrated that we can grow and adapt to a range of requirements and sectors successfully and are confident that we have a formula capable of reaching our objective.

“We have shown that, with the right approach we can get the right people with the right skills into sustainable employment. However, we are mindful of the growing skills gap in the UK. In 2024, we will be tackling this issue head on by furnishing candidates with the right skills for the current labour market and seeking partners who want to work in innovative ways to fill their vacancies and enable people with barriers to employment to find the jobs of the future.

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