New partnership to help even more Oxfordshire residents find employment

People in Oxfordshire with health or disability needs who need an introduction to the world of work are to benefit from a new deal that has been struck by an Oxfordshire County Council run service with a long history of offering help.  

Oxfordshire Employment, which has this year marked its 75th anniversary, offers people with a health or disability need a path into work. It has announced a new partnership with social enterprise Oxford Wood Recycling and supported employment service Ways Into Work called Wood to Work.

Oxford Wood Recycling is an Abingdon-based social enterprise specialising in recycled timber and building materials, and high quality carpentry. With their own supported employment model, Oxford Wood Recycling has helped over 600 individuals gain vital skills and experience since their founding in 2005. The company also works with volunteers to support their sustainability goals.

Much like Oxfordshire Employment, Ways Into Work supports people with a health or disability need gain and maintain employment. The Berkshire-based organisation is a majority employee owned, community interest company, with more than two decades of experience providing vital assistance.

Councillor Jenny Hannaby, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Entering the world of work can prove more challenging for some than others, and providing support to those with a health or disability need is tantamount to our work at Oxfordshire County Council. This partnership will not only help a greater number of county residents, but will broaden the opportunities available to those looking for support.”

Will Gardner, Team Manager at Oxfordshire Employment, said: “This is an exciting step for us and will significantly increase the number of county residents we can support enter or re-enter work. Many similar initiatives have set criteria for who is eligible, or the type of work they can undertake. Our partnership with Oxford Wood Recycling and Ways Into Work will mean we can look at the individual needs and circumstances of who we are supporting and offer them the best possible pathway into employment.”

Richard Snow, CEO of Oxford Wood Recycling, said: “We’ve long been proud of how we’ve supported county residents enter employment. However, we knew that to consistently deliver good outcomes for individuals unemployed and at a disadvantage in accessing work, we needed to bring in more skills and gain more knowledge of local needs for employment and from employers. We are grateful for investment from The Postcode Lottery and absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Ways into Work and Oxfordshire Employment on Wood to Work. Our aim is simple but important: to provide further opportunities for us to grow and deliver first class employment support in the county.”

Becky Lawson, Managing Director at Ways Into Work, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Oxfordshire Employment and Oxford Wood Recycling on this exciting new venture. We’ve long been working in Berkshire and Hampshire delivering supported employment and supported internships, and this project marks not only our first steps in Oxfordshire but our first collaboration directly with two very different and very successful supported business models. We are really excited about the opportunity this partnership brings to grow our collective impact and change even more lives one job at a time across Oxfordshire county.”

Under a two year agreement, the three organisations will focus largely on enabling residents in the South Oxfordshire area enter the world of work. Opportunities for employment include accounting, business, trade-based learning, administration and more.

Alongside Ways Into Work, Oxfordshire Employment will look closely at individuals’ personal and professional aspirations, existing skills, location, abilities and more and help determine the best possible opportunity at Oxford Wood Recycling, County Print Finishers – Oxfordshire Employment’s socially responsible printing service - and with other employers in the local area.

The partnership was signed on 25 October 2021 and aims to support at least 20 individuals in its first year. The organisations have together taken immediate action to support Oxfordshire residents looking for work.

For more information about this release contact the Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council communications team on 01865 323870 or email press.office@oxfordshire.gov.uk






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