Becoming an employer and our social mission

It’s been a whirlwind of a year. So, I thought I’d post an update as a precursor to some more BIG news that we have at Citrus, while talking more about one of the community partners we are working with; The IPS Employment Support Team at Pavilions Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service in Brighton. The IPS team are supporting us to develop and grow our social mission and they could help your business too, read on to find out how!!

Way back at the beginning of this particular adventure, in late 2017, I was working as Commercial Director at one of the top independent agencies in the UK, according to Campaign magazine. Thank you Steve, and the Adex Team!  I was working remotely most of the week at Platf9rm with a twinkle in my eye in the hope that I might just start my own business again soon.

At the time I was thinking of different entrepreneurial ideas, one of which was to set up a recruitment business that helped those in recovery back into work. I remembered how hard it was when I first got sober and I am super resourceful, so imagined what it could be like if there was a recruitment business that was mindful of those early days and helped young men and women who have had to start again with a little guidance and understanding.

I was invited to a talk by The Forward Enterprise Fund, which is a social investment fund run together with Social Investment for Business. It supports individuals, charities, and social enterprises in creating employment opportunities for ex-offenders and people in recovery from addiction.

When I discussed my ideas with them after the talk, they asked: “What do you know about recruitment?!”

“Nothing!!” I said, to which they replied, “Well why don’t you stick to something you know best?” That was when it hit me that Citrus Ornge which I had launched in the May of that year, could be the place to offer employment and work experience opportunities to ex-offenders and those recovering from addiction.

The Forward Enterprise Fund’s website says that ‘Ex-offenders and people in recovery from addiction are the two groups mainstream employers are least likely to recruit.’ Yet having a job can bring independence and self-respect and is the single most effective factor in reducing the risk of re-offending.’

So here we are, and we have a number of great partners what we work with on our social mission. It’s been a massive learning curve exploring the potential synergies between Citrus Ornge and all of them. One such partner is the team of IPS employment specialists embedded in Pavilions; the drug and alcohol treatment service in Brighton and Hove. The IPS team work specifically with people in recovery who are motivated to find employment and aim to skills match clients to roles that are meaningful to them. As part of their role the IPS team develop links with local employers like Citrus Ornge; and we have worked closely with them to provide opportunities for paid work for people in recovery.

Their service is part of a national trial of IPS, funded by the Department of Work and Health and run by Public Health England. It is the largest trial of IPS employment support of its kind ever undertaken with people in recovery and works across seven sites including here in Brighton and Hove.

The Brighton team is lead by Dr Rob Robinson. Rob has worked closely with me at Citrus Ornge, getting to understand my business and our social mission, he’s helped me to find someone with the skills I was looking for and we have in turn been able to provide someone in recovery with paid employment. It’s been an incredibly proud moment for me to be able to give something back by helping someone get back into paid employment.

If you are a business owner and are interested in helping someone in recovery get back to work,then Pavilions IPS Employment Support Service is entirely free to use. They are looking for employers in Brighton and Hove and will work with you to understand the needs of your business so that they can find the right people for your vacancies.

Employers that, givesomeone an opportunity to gain work or work experience will be making a huge difference in their life.

I am truly proud to live and work in Brighton & Hove, one of the most inclusive cities in the UK and I am excited that Citrus Onge is working with partners to make a real difference to people’s lives through our social mission.

If you want to find out more about the IPS team then you can contact the team lead Rob Robinson e: t: 01273 731900

Employment can bring real and tangible economic and social benefits, not only to those employed, but for the community as a whole.

Case study: a service user of Hammersmith & Fulham Community Drug and Alcohol Service

“I came to my drug and alcohol service because I was addicted to drugs, once I was able to live a life free from the substance dependence, I started thinking about what other changes I wanted to make in my life.”

“I spoke to my key worker about support with finding work, and she referred me to the employment specialist. I had been out of work for over four years and was not feeling very confident. At the start of working with my employment specialist, I was not even happy to speak to employers over the telephone, but with his support, I soon felt comfortable doing it. He was very positive and made me feel a lot better about myself. We prepared a CV, wrote cover letters, and set up an email address – all things I had known I had to do but hadn’t had the motivation to sit down and work on.”

“We contacted employers and made lots of applications together, and I had several interviews”

“Unfortunately, these were not successful. Around this time, I was given an eviction notice, as they were developing the building where I lived into luxury flats. I was worried that I would have nowhere to stay. My employment specialist helped a lot, giving me a letter of support, helping me access legal advice, and putting me in touch with agencies that could help me find a new property”

“I spoke to a tool hire company in the borough I live in, who gave me a day’s trial. That turned into a full-time paid job! And I have now saved enough money from that to pay for the deposit on a new room when I need to move out of my current place. I’m enjoying work and am feeling a lot more confident and happier than I have for years.”

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Addictions Service Vocational Project Annual Report, 2011/2012


Also, if you want to get sober and would like to know how I did it just DM me and I’ll tell you…😊


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