Laptop loan scheme hailed for getting long-term unemployed people to work

A program that allows unemployed people to loan IT equipment like laptops has been described as life-changing by those it has helped find work.

The digital device program has ended a mother-of-two’s 15-year wait and helped a former security guard get his first job since having to quit to become a full-time carer.

The program is run by Communities for Work Plus (CfW+), an employment support service for people experiencing poverty or at risk of poverty who face barriers to accessing training and employment .

The Welsh Government-funded project provides support to help build confidence, gain work experience, learn new skills or write a CV, and can loan equipment like Chromebooks to search and complete job applications or educational courses.

Anna Constantini, 36, from Swansea, hadn’t worked for 15 years due to anxiety, but benefited from the loaner device scheme after she found the courage to go to her local CfW+ center in Swansea in February 2021.

“I knew something had to change, I just wasn’t living,” she said.

Anna didn’t have access to a computer to take training classes or search for jobs online, so CfW+ lent her Chromebook and her personal mentor Lorraine Hodson helped her enroll in the Security Industry Association ( SIA), CCTV, first aid, manual handling, and fire awareness training.

Anna passed all of her training before successfully applying for a job as a Security Support Officer at Swansea Civic Centre.

She said: “Having a job I love and people I love working with has made it so much easier for me to deal with the anxiety I suffer from, it gives me something to wake up to every morning. I can now support my two teenagers and give them something to be proud of.

“If it weren’t for the digital device program and help from CfW+, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Kyle Toogood, 32

Kyle Toogood, 32, was another struggling to get back to work after having to end his own security business three years ago to take on his grandmother’s responsibilities.

But after changing care arrangements and wanting to support his two children, Kyle decided to look for a new job only to find that the lack of a laptop was a huge obstacle.

Kyle, who lives in Merthyr Tydfil with his partner and children, said: “Trying to fight for benefits with two kids, it was tough.

“I didn’t have £500 that I could just pull out of my back pocket and say I was going to have this laptop or this PC.

“Because I had been out of work for such a long time, I started sinking into a black hole thinking I couldn’t get jobs.”

But after contacting CfW+, Kyle said the experience of taking training courses and attending job interviews led him to successfully land a job at the Kepak meatpacking plant. by Merthyr Tydfil.

“Being able to lend a Chromebook and access classes from the comfort of my own home was awesome,” he said.

“I had a few setbacks, but knowing I had this support behind me gave me the confidence to keep looking and applying for jobs. CfW+ is phenomenal.

“My biggest motivation is to take care of my children.

“Now, I hope to evolve within the company. I have work ethic and I want responsibility.

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