Developing Education, Volunteering and Employment

Employment is a major defence against homelessness and social exclusion.

Today, training and employment services are an important and innovative part of Framework’s activities: in 2001 just one such service existed.

The seeds for this growth were:

  • Flatpack – trained clients in painting, decorating and minor repairs
  • Advice & Information Resource (AIR)
  • Online to Resettlement at London Road giving residents access to computers and IT training.

Initially Framework’s Academy, which delivered these courses, focused on engaging adults with low self-esteem and educational attainment who were uncomfortable in formal educational environments – providing courses including numeracy and literacy.

A change of focus

Following the shift in government policy the Academy became EVE (Education, Volunteering and Employment) in 2007/08 with a focus on occupation, paid or unpaid, offering various routes to employment. This acknowledged that sustainable change is built around tackling the causes of poverty, achieving financial independence and ending dependence on the state.

To train current and former clients to work in social care, Working into Sustainable Employment (WiSE) was launched with LSC/ESF funding. By 2011, when funding ceased, 298 former service users had ‘graduated’ from the programme; 92 had found employment in Framework or elsewhere.

To provide more routes to employment EVE launched:

  • Helping Hands – supporting people with mental health difficulties in Nottinghamshire into employment 
  • Employment Brokers – supporting people with homelessness issues into employment 
  • Flexible Routeways – community outreach helping people furthest from the workplace into employment.

Since Framework’s Academy was established in 2005 our ability to engage hard-to-reach individuals in learning, training and employment has won contracts and grants worth over £8m from sources including LSC/ESF, DWP, Neighbourhood Renewal, Nottingham City Council, National Housing Federation and several trusts and foundations. Framework has also provided significant funding.

EVE is a proactive, dynamic and forward-looking service that has the interests of the client at the centre of all its operations. This is reflected in the committed and positive staff team that clients confirmed would go the extra mile to meet their needs; the range of services and support provided; and the positive outcomes achieved that enable clients to identify and achieve their learning and work goals.

Matrix Accreditation Review Report, May 2011

Volunteering, Mentoring and Befriending

Volunteering has always been a fundamental part of the service, beginning with Online to Resettlement which encouraged peer mentoring by former homeless people.

A Volunteer Coordinator was appointed with Big Lottery funding in 2008. By May 2011, 1033 volunteers including clients, former clients and the general public had fulfilled a wide range of tasks including assisting support workers, helping with administration, driving and tutoring. There is even a volunteer midwife and a mascot.

Developing social enterprises

To provide another route to employment Framework has developed social enterprises offering volunteering, traineeships and employment opportunities to people who, for a variety of reasons, are a long way from the employment market.

Initially these included:

  • Bitesize – an outside catering business
  • Barista – a stylish coffee bar
  • Fix It – an estate management business
  • Paint It – a painting and decorating business
  • Person 2 Person – a domiciliary care business.

In January 2012 a total of nine social enterprises (and The Workshop) were transferred to a new Community Interest Company (CIC) called EVE Trades, led by Chief Executive Claire Eden. The new company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Framework, competes for business on a commercial footing but channels all the money it makes into providing more opportunities for vulnerable people.

EVE Trades now includes:

  • Bitesize – a catering business
  • Barista – a stylish trio of coffee bars
  • Fix It – an estate management business
  • Paint It – a painting and decorating business
  • Person 2 Person – a domiciliary care business.
  • Bike Club – a cycle recycling scheme
  • The Music Exchange – a record shop
  • Woodpeckers – a wood craft business
  • The Outram Centre – a training and networking venue


Framework has invested in many buildings to deliver learning and training including:

  • The Heath Community Centre in Mansfield which houses the Bitesize training kitchen, funded by ERDF, emda, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and WREN
  • The Workshop – a training base for construction skills and The Bike Club in Bulwell, Nottingham
  • The EVE Centre – a purpose-built hub on Bentinck Road, Nottingham funded by the Castle Cavendish Foundation and The Places of Change Programme
  • The ground floor of the Outram Street Centre in Sutton in Ashfield, funded by ERDF and the Nottinghamshire Community Safety Trust, which houses Barista (the first Bitesize coffee bar), a multi-media training suite and recording studio designed and equipped by learning provider Confetti, and three business start-up units.

Recognition of quality

Professional accreditation and awards have provided endorsement:

  • AIR gained accreditation for providing Information, Advice and Guidance from the nationally recognised Matrix Standard – re-accredited 2011 (for EVE)
  • Online to Resettlement was the East Midlands winner of the 2003 UK Online awards and runner up at the national finals
  • In 2007 the Academy achieved a ‘Good’ standard in an Ofsted evaluation of adult learning services
  • Framework gained Approved Provider Standard accreditation from the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation in 2006 (renewed 2009)
  • Paint It was a winner in the 2009 Spark Challenge and came third nationally in the Michael Whippman Awards in 2010, both recognising best practice in tackling homelessness through social enterprise
  • Framework was a regional winner in the 2010 National Training Awards
  • Framework was awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in 2010
  • Framework's WiSE (Working into Sustainable Employment scheme was a finalist in The Guardian's prestigious Public Service Awards.

A valued partner

In June 2011 EVE staff began delivering the Work Programme as a sub-contractor to both the East Midlands’ prime contractors. This was the latest instance of Framework adding value to partners’ credentials through its proven ability to engage people far removed from training and the labour market.