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At Work Together – Medequip Plays A Role In Birmingham's PURE Project

The PURE project (Placing vulnerable Urban Residents into Employment) is the brainchild of Birmingham City Council and a group of 8 providers including Midland Mencap, MIND, Birmingham & Solihull Women’s AID, BID Services, Trident Reach, Fry Accord, Rathbone and Swanswell. Part funded by the European Social Fund, PURE brings together a range of coordinated interventions designed to assist the needs of the most vulnerable citizens with barriers into the employment market.

EU Social Fund

Medequip was an obvious choice to provide placement opportunities for reintroduction to the workplace. The company has worked closely with Birmingham City Council for many years, providing community equipment services to the people of Birmingham. When Medequip’s Operations Manager for the West Midlands Jo Page first heard about the PURE project, she was convinced that the company’s Birmingham depot could play a role in providing important links back into employment.

“We work closely with our Commissioners, and because of the nature of our business, we are committed to opportunities that enable us to add social value,” stated Jo. “When our Commissioners put us in touch with PURE, we immediately identified ways we could be involved to support, mentor and guide individuals through to employment, education and training in line with the PURE objectives.”

The first step was to introduce PURE intervention workers to Medequip, and Jo devised an introductory presentation which was attended by potential participants along with their intervention workers. Here, the visitors had an opportunity to experience what Medequip does on a day to day basis, to identify how the company could support individuals and to ascertain which candidates could benefit from this kind of work experience. “Everyone who visited our Birmingham depot wanted to work with us, which was very gratifying,” said Jo.

The first intake began in September, involving three initial placements, one in Customer Services, one in Warehousing and one in Repairs. The candidates work two or three days a week, four to five hours a day, supported and mentored by Medequip staff. Alongside the work experience, they face additional challenges such as negotiating public transport, committing to on-time attendance and abiding by current rules including COVID-safe working procedures and PPE.

The participants have been really enjoying their work, and it has proved very rewarding for Medequip staff to see how their confidence has grown as they integrated into the team. “I would recommend the PURE project to other organisations too,” said Jo. “As a business, we are also benefiting from the process. I am extremely proud of how the staff have risen to the challenge, truly mentoring not mollycoddling, showing real patience and understanding.”

The PURE Project Manager, Tabriz Hussain, has been delighted with how this relationship with Medequip has formed “I couldn’t ask for a better employer than Medequip, they have given our participants a real opportunity that will improve their chances of securing employment in the near future”.

The sentiment is echoed by Rajwinder Singh, Intervention Worker for Midland Mencap. “What a brilliant organisation Medequip is! One of my client users, who hasn’t worked for over nine years, has taken to this project with so much enthusiasm. He has learning difficulties, and finds it hard to engage with people, but the interaction since working with Jo and her team has been fantastic.”

PURE intervention workers have been on call, but have not been needed so far. Participants will remain with Medequip for a minimum of three months, encouraged back into the world of work, and can stay on beyond that if they choose. They are proving a valued part of the team, and will be given formal references at the end of their placements, demonstrating their capabilities.

Medequip is now evaluating the potential for expanding the project into the nearby Stafford depot, looking at partners to continue the work begun with Birmingham City Council.

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