JTI - Finalist in The Experian Award for Building Stronger Communities

JTI's partnership with Crisis has created a lasting impact
  • JTI has supported Crisis to deliver 21,461 employability and literary classes 8,969 learners
  • 5,705 accredited qualifications have been awarded to Crisis Members
  • 1400 Crisis members have been supported into sustained employment

JTI’s partnership with Crisis has not only seen thousands of homeless and vulnerably housed people upskilled to get into work, JTI employees have been involved as part of the company’s volunteering skills programme Give Get Grow.

Over half of Crisis’ members need literacy support to find work, 60 per cent have low or no qualifications, putting over 80 per cent of job vacancies beyond reach, while 37 per cent have no qualifications whatsoever, according to the homeless charity’s survey.

Crisis research also found that out of the 1,468 homeless people in London, just 6 per cent are in paid employment. And yet, in a note of optimism, most of those without a home (97 per cent) do want to work either now or in the future. That is why JTI has been supporting the charity Crisis to end homelessness through education and self-development

Ending homelessness is the goal

Crisis’ ultimate goal is to end homelessness – and this aligns with JTI’s UK wide community investment policy. So, the company partnered with the national charity to help give homeless people more skills and improve the chances of them finding employment.

Classes at the Crisis Learning Zone – supported by JTI – help members with Maths, English, IT and ESOL, along with vocational skills such as catering and hairdressing. There’s even a dedicated unit to support those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Thanks to JTI’s accredited learning and employment support – in London since 2008 and Coventry and Warwickshire, and Sheffield and South Yorkshire more recently – Crisis has been able to hire more qualified trainers, provide training that leads to accredited qualifications and importantly access to potential employers.

Since 2008, 21,461 classes have been delivered to 8,969 learners and 16 employment events have been held. Some 1,400 Crisis Members have entered sustained employment (that’s a minimum of six months).

Meanwhile, 1,695 Crisis members have gone into further education or training – improving future options – with some 5,705 gaining an accredited qualification. Most (91per cent) reported improved confidence and self-esteem.

Volunteering opportunities and creating a lasting impact

JTI employees have the opportunity to volunteer with Crisis, which offers employees a chance to have an insight into the charity

JTI employees have the opportunity to volunteer with Crisis, which offers employees a chance to have an insight into the charity, the opportunity to make a personal contribution and to use and develop new skills. Last year, employee hours volunteered during work time with Crisis totalled 234 – equivalent to one person working for the charity for 1.5 months – and since 2008, 176 JTI employees, or 22 per cent of its workforce based in England, have volunteered.

“At the beginning of the partnership, we struggled to attract employee volunteers as the volunteering pattern required for the Teaching Assistant positions was for a half day commitment for ten weeks by the same employee and we had relatively few employees who felt they could make that commitment,” says Karen Reynolds, head of community relations at JTI. “We worked with Crisis to find a compromise that would still provide some continuity for the classes but give our employees the flexibility to commit for a smaller number of sessions. It worked extremely well and numbers dramatically increased and is still the basis of the volunteering programme.”

Of the 97 per cent of employees that were aware of the Crisis partnership, 83 per cent felt pride and a greater level of commitment to JTI as a result of its community investment activities, and 70 per cent of classroom volunteers felt the activity helped them to improve skills they would use in their job.

JTI’s communications manager, Melanie Mills, is a great example. Thanks to volunteering with Crisis, she has found a different approach to working with a group of people. “It has provided me with the opportunity to try different methods and be more creative in how I interact with the service users rather that my normal ‘task’ focused approach almost forcing me to be more social rather than ‘task’ orientated in order to help the group and get the best results.”

Creating a lasting impact on disadvantaged adults also builds respect with employees, external stakeholders and society, making the programme simply good business sense.

“It is part of our responsibility as a good corporate citizen to be aware of the social and environmental challenges in countries where we operate, and help people improve their quality of life,” says Reynolds. “A positive, flourishing society is good for everyone.”