New Leaf Initiative in Digbeth is launching an ethical recruitment agency

(left to right): West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, client Jayden Lee McMahon and New Leaf founder Marie-Claire O’Brien

Author: Kellie MaddoxPosted 1 hour ago

A Birmingham social enterprise that has supported almost 1,300 people with convictions is launching a new recruitment agency to help disadvantaged people find jobs.

The New Leaf Initiative, in Digbeth, has secured £100,000 in social investment to establish the agency, as well as revamp its training academy.

Its goal is to place 100 clients on the job in the first year by supporting companies that want to increase their social value to find and hire motivated, local, work-ready people emerging from diverse and often disadvantaged backgrounds.

Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands, marked the launch of the new service during a tour, where he saw first-hand how people with convictions are supported to get away from crime and into work.

The visit comes just weeks before the government is set to announce how it will allocate England’s share of almost £1bn of idle assets that can be used to help level off.

Andy Street acknowledged that the initial allocation has paid off and advocated for further support: “The decision to put idle assets across different funding sources has proven to be incredibly smart. My message to the government, as I know they are considering another injection of idle assets into social enterprise funding, would be ‘please do it’”.

Marie-Claire O’Brien, Founder and Executive Director of the New Leaf Initiative, said: “Our crucial work has received social investment twice and we are so grateful; not only because of the money, but also because of the guidance and support shown by investment organizations like the Sumerian Foundation.

“Her kind ear and words of encouragement, pointers and advice, when times have been tough, have been invaluable and, as a result, supported our growth and that of our clients.

“The ethical recruitment agency is an important extension of our highly successful service and will provide a missing link for companies that want to ‘do good’ by investing in people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Bosses now have a clear route to tap into a new talent pool that could help solve the growing midlands labor shortage. Better still, we will support them at all times so that they can keep that job.”

He continued: “It is important to remember that the third sector and social enterprises like ours do the government’s work for it, making it our mission to support the most marginalized, disenfranchised and disadvantaged members of our society.

“To do this, we need access to unrestricted funding with which we can target the needs of our communities while responding to the demands of everyday business.”

New Leaf works to help people with convictions and anyone struggling with multiple and complex barriers in the region to move away from crime and to work, helping people stabilize, improve their skills and obtain employment.

The organization achieves this by using peer support workers to engage, inspire and advance people accessing the service and, since 2014, has been able to work with 1,286 people.

Of its users, 82% accessed stabilization support and 58% of the apprentices obtained paid employment after training in the organization.

In addition to the launch of the ethical recruiting agency, New Leaf also revamped its training academy with upgraded equipment, the employment of an experienced tutor, and the creation of a graffiti wall depicting the clients’ journey from institutions to employment.

Isabelle Irani of the Sumerian Foundation added her support: “We are very pleased that we have been able to provide New Leaf with patient and flexible funding which, together with skills support, will allow this pioneering social enterprise to scale up the way it helps people. vulnerable. .”

Melanie Mills, Senior Director of Social Sector Engagement at Big Society Capital, concluded: “The Mayor of the West Midlands recently raised concerns about the matching fund allocation and while deals in the West Midlands were largely unsuccessful, The opportunity for organizations like New Leaf to receive more personalized investment directly provides an alternative model to centralized decision making.

“The work that Marie-Claire and the team have done at Digbeth is a fantastic example of how organizations can thrive and make a difference in their communities with the support of social investment.”

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