Manchester Cathedral has pioneered a new kind of volunteering programme with employability and enterprise at its heart. It works with long-term unemployed people who have returned from the government’s Work Programme after two years without entering employment.
As well as gaining real work experience through volunteering, participants complete a 10-week course at Manchester College and undertake group projects that build understanding of their local heritage. Local employers such as Manchester Arndale, Hilton Hotel, Printworks and Virgin Money offer careers talks, mentoring and guaranteed interviews.
There is no fixed end date to the programme and volunteers are encouraged to take the time and space they need to develop their skills. However, tracking of outcomes is rigorous and demonstrates that 60% of volunteers return to work and 20% continue to volunteer at the cathedral or elsewhere. Manchester Metropolitan University are carrying out a full evaluation which will also capture soft outcomes such as improved confidence.