here - Bulky Bob

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FRC Group
November 14th, 2014
FRC Group would like to pledge that we are no longer involved in any mandated work programmes
and we will never engage with any again. We have also signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary
pledge.
There have been a lot of questions and confusions flying around social media in recent days so we
wanted to set the record straight and explain a little more about our employees, our trainees and
our volunteers. If anyone has any further questions, please email [email protected]
FRC Group is a social enterprise and put all of our profits back into our business, there are no
shareholders. Our two key aims are to help long term unemployed people back into work and to get
furniture to those who need it.
We have a workforce of 65. This made up of 52 permanent employees who are all paid at least the
Living Wage. We have 13 Driving Change trainees who are paid the minimum wage at the highest
rate regardless of their age, and we spend an average of £2000 per person on their training, with
more details on the course below.
We also have 16 volunteers who are with us for a range of reasons, for example some have
disabilities and join us because they enjoy the social experience of being here, while others are here
with organisations like the Princes Trust. Some of these volunteers are with us one day a week or a
fortnight, some for more than one day, whatever suits their needs. These are all paid travel, lunch
and laundry expenses.
We have also had people with us on a month long mandatory work programme, an average of 6
people a month. 21 of those who joined us on a mandatory placement came back afterwards as
volunteers.
Out of our 52 permanent staff, 20 originally came to us on work placements or as trainees.
We have a dedicated People and Learning team whose role it is to fully support all of our trainees
and placements.
We run a paid year long training programme, paying the minimum wage at the highest rate, and we
invest heavily in the training we provide. All of our Driving Change recruits have been unemployed
for at least 6 months and we often seek out people who we know will find it hard to get
opportunities elsewhere, those with particular needs, disabilities, or with challenging backgrounds.
The training includes a week long intensive externally delivered driving course with a driving test at
the end of it. We also pay for provisional licences and theory tests, and provide all the learning
materials as well. We also provide training and pay for fork lift truck tests and LGV Class II licences.
Other training and qualifications include manual handling, health and safety, we pay for their CSCS
cards so they could go on and work on construction sites, we pay for their medicals for the LGV
licence, and we fund their CRB checks. All our trainees also complete an NVQ in Warehousing.
We also work closely with our trainees to prepare their CVs, provide job interview training, and keep
them fully updated on all relevant job opportunities. We have links with a range of employers and
work closely with these to encourage them to give jobs to our trainees.
We also run Launchpad which is our volunteering programme. We work with the Princes Trust, Get
Britain Working, charities and others to help people with work experience. Our Launchpadders can
have a wide range of goals, from building their confidence, getting them used to a work routine,
being part of a team or many more. 84% of our Launchpad participants say they have achieved their
personal goal from taking part in the scheme.
In 2012 we were told about a new scheme which referred people from the job centre via JHP, (now
Learn Direct), to offer them a month’s work placement. While we did have concerns about the
mandatory nature of the scheme, we felt we really had something to offer people, those who we
might not be able to reach in any other way, and decided to take part and assess how it went. No
one on a mandatory work placement went out on our vans or delivered contract critical work.
However to be clear, some people did return on a voluntary basis or were later engaged on paid
training courses and went out on vans or delivered contract critical work after their mandated
programme was complete.
We believe that we achieved some good results with some of these placements. Many people who
left said they felt their confidence had vastly improved, it helped to give them a reason to get up
every day, and several came back to us as volunteers when their mandatory programme was
completed. We also recruited for our paid Driving Change programme and Fork Lift Truck training
programmes from these mandated workers.
In 2013 we did have to restructure the business and 11 members of staff were made redundant.
Only one of these redundancies was in the Bulky Bob’s side of our operation which is where we
placed the Learn Direct placements so there is no connection to the use of placements and job
losses. We have since re-employed some of the people we had made redundant as the business has
grown again.
Here are some of the stories of people who joined us via the Learn Direct scheme. We have used
their initials to protect their privacy.
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AS - Mandated to FRC in Feb 2014
34yrs of age and had never had a job
AS really Impressed us and after 4 weeks we moved him on to Elev8, our 8-week Fork Lift
Truck training scheme
We funded his CRB checks
We funded his Fork LiftTruck C/Balance& Reach training,
He asked to come back after he completed the course to get further work experience for 8
more weeks.
He applied for and was successful at getting a place on Driving Change in July
So far we have paid for him to get his provisional Car licence
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He is working towards car theory test in December
We are paying for him to have full intensive driving lessons for a week with test
As AS already now has his FLT licence, we are paying for him to get his Dumper truck licence
as well.
MH - Mandated to FRC in July 2013
Aged 30 yrs, he had been unemployed for 4 ½ years
After 4 weeks MH impressed us enough to be offered temporary paid work, (Living Wage)
on Bulky Bob’s until the next intake of Driving Change
MH got a place on Driving Change in July 2014
He is currently working on his NVQ in Warehousing
We have paid for his CRB checks and provisional car licence
He is working towards car theory test and his full driving licence
PP - Mandated to FRC in August 2014
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Aged 38, he has a physical disability and was unemployed for 3 yrs
He initially worked in our shop for 4 weeks
FRC then employed PP for three months on the Living Wage
PP got a place on Driving Change in July 2014
So far we have paid for him to get his Fork lift Licence with us
He is currently working towards LGV Class 11 theory test on 26th Nov
AP- Mandated to FRC in January 2014
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Aged 26, AP was an ex-offender who had been unemployed for 2yrs plus after being
released from prison
Worked in Bulky Bob’s doing recycling work
He got a place on to Elev8- we funded his Fork lift licences
AP returned as a volunteer to gain experience using FLT
Worked as a paid worker for FRC for 1 month
Left FRC in August 2014 to start work for a high street discount retailer as Fork lift truck
driver
AP was awarded Launch Padder of the Year in our annual staff awards
BS - Mandated to FRC In June 2014
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Aged 22, he impressed us and was moved to Elev8, our Fork Lift Truck training programme.
We funded him to take his Fork Lift Licences and he returned to gain more work experience
BS then left FRC to start a job with B& M as Fork Lift driver
We follow up people after they have moved on and Brian has since moved on to another
job with Spicers Office furniture as a Fork lift Driver
Despite these successes, and many more, we continued to have concerns about the mandated
element of the scheme and took the decision in late October/early November this year that we were
going to withdraw and try to get to this hard to reach group via other channels. So we informed
Learn Direct of this decision on November 6th, which was actually before we were aware of any
planned protest and I believe before the protest was organised. We had placements with us who
needed to complete their programme and all of these finished on Friday, November 14th. From that
date we will have no one with us who is not part of a paid training programme, a permanent
employee, or part of a truly voluntary work experience scheme. We also do use temporary workers,
usually former Launchpadders, who we pay the Living Wage and we have certainly never used zerohours contracts.
We pledge that we will never take part in any mandatory work programme again and we have
signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary pledge.
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