First receives employer and CSR awards

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Tracey Beckford is a prime example of First helping the unemployed
Tracey Beckford is a prime example of First helping the unemployed

Operator recognised for work in helping unemployed back to work in Bristol

While UK unemployment has risen to 2.64 million, the highest level since 1994, FirstGroup has been named Employer of the Year in recognition of the work it has done to get the long term unemployed in Bristol back into work.

First received the award at a ceremony in London Tomorrow’s People Annual Awards for Achievement for the work it has done with national employment charity Tomorrow’s People.

Over the past year First has met with a number of people who, having been out of work for some time, were looking for new job opportunities in the Bristol area. The company, supported by Tomorrow’s People, provided information about working for First and helped potential employees apply for roles within the business. As a direct result 11 people have joined the company, employed in a variety of roles including administration as well as traditional driving jobs.

One such employee is Tracey Beckford (50) from St George. Having spent around a year out of work while caring for a sick relative, Tracey was referred to Tomorrow’s People by the Job Centre in January 2011. With plenty of administrative experience under her belt, gained from previous work in the NHS, Tracey had lots to offer employers, but time away from paid work had knocked her confidence and self esteem. With support from Tomorrow’s People, Tracey was able to secure a role as an administrator working for First in its Lawrence Hill depot in Bristol.

“I’m really enjoying this job,” said Tracey. “The maternity cover is due to end in about a month’s time but First is such a big company that I hope to be able to move into another role, or another department, in due course. I would certainly like to stay with the company as the people here have been incredibly supportive of me since the beginning. I’ve certainly felt from day one as though I’ve fitted in, enjoying the working environment and banter I have with my colleagues.”

Talking about the Tomorrow’s People scheme and its role in it, Catrin Asbrey, head of human resources for First in the South West and Wales, said: “We have a number of different roles within our company which can suit all different types of people and through this scheme we’ve been able to meet with a whole host of potential candidates. Since we began working with Tomorrow’s People we have spent time with candidates, explaining more about the company and the roles on offer, and we’ve taken on a number of people as a result. Where people haven’t been successful in gaining a job we have offered them constructive feedback which will hopefully help them in their search for other types of employment.”

Meanwhile, First has also been crowned winner of the Corporate Responsibility Award at an awards event held in Glasgow recently.

A sell out 700 guests attended the 5th annual HR Network National Awards, an event designed to recognise, acknowledge and reward the champions of the HR and people management and development profession in Scotland.

According to the judging panel, First was honoured for its “high level governance approach to Corporate Responsibility” and were impressed by “staff engagement at all levels in driving forward the company’s strategy.”

“I’m delighted that First has won the Corporate Responsibility Award,” said Terri Vogt, First head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). “At FirstGroup the value of CSR cannot be underestimated. Our approach helps us to improve performance resulting in better employee engagement, improved customer service and greater business efficiency. It also allows us to help tackle some of our society’s wider challenges such as congestion and climate change. It’s extremely pleasing that some of the work we do has been recognised by such a public and prestigious forum.”

Martin Glover, chair of the judging panel for the HR Network Awards, said: “FirstGroup’s collaborative, competitive and targeted approach to Corporate Responsibility was one of the best examples the judging panel has ever come across.”

For more information about Tomorrow’s People see: www.tomorrows-people. org.uk