U+I Plc are a property developer and investor who focus on regenerating overlooked and underfunded urban spaces. They have been a Breaking Barriers partner since 2019 and have been extremely supportive and collaborative in our mission to help integrate people of a refugee background through employment.
Breaking Barriers is passionate about the role the private sector can play in providing support for our mission. Our corporate partnerships are solution–focused, and our aim is to empower our partners as central figures of our work. One of the ways in which we do this is through our BB Academy programme.
The Academy programme is a 6-month paid work placement, usually part-time, with a corporate partner. These roles are positions that fall within existing organisational needs but are exclusively open to Breaking Barriers clients and our partners offer extensive feedback to clients who are unsuccessful in the recruitment process.
For the successful client, our partners commit to attending regular inclusion progress review meetings with the client, line manager and Breaking Barriers Employment Adviser and ensure that our clients are given all the tools and support needed to integrate into the role as confidently as possible. This also ensures the line manager is fully supported through the process and it is mutually successful. These extra-support mechanisms result in all clients leaving the recruitment process with more confidence and experience which benefits them in their quest for employment.
Since the beginning of the partnership with Breaking Barriers, U+I have recruited two clients through the BB Academy programme. Both clients’ placements were so successful that they were offered a permanent role within the organisation. The second placement occurred during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the client spent part of that time on furlough. Yet, despite these challenges, our client was successful in transitioning from an in-person role to a remote position.
A big part of any successful Academy placement is the relationship that is built with our partners, and especially with our clients’ line managers. Sophie Streeting was the line manager at U+I for both Breaking Barriers clients. We asked Sophie to share her experiences, the impact of the Academy programme on the wider team, and advice for future Academy line-managers.
- Please describe your experience of line managing two BB clients for our Academy programme, what has been your biggest outtake?
The two employees U+I have gained from BB have been an absolute pleasure to work with. The recruitment process was simple and tailored to us. We found two people who fitted the roles exactly after having a choice of who to interview and thereafter who we wanted to employ. They are hardworking, motivated and conscientious and are regarded by the wider team as an asset to the company.
- What were the biggest challenges that you faced leading up to and during the placements?
This was a pretty smooth sailing process from start to end, however if I was to say one slight difficulty in the start was sign off from the leadership team to go down a different avenue of recruitment. Once they saw what BB had to offer it was a no–brainer.
- Please describe the impact of the placements on you as a manager, and to the wider team?
As a manager, BB really supported me in my role. With regular catch-up meetings, it not only helped me ensure my team were happy but gave me a good framework to ensure my teams learning and development progression. They are both an excellent addition to the team and play a key role in motivating other team members through their can-do attitude.
- Would you recommend other companies to partake in the Academy programme, and why?
I would highly recommend BB to companies in all sectors. It is a brilliant and unique avenue of recruitment with a wonderful purpose. The BB team are incredibly supportive even after the candidate has been placed and the quality of candidates, they put forward to interview is very high. Our relationship with BB has been key to creating an inclusive, diverse, and motivated workforce with excellent problem-solving skills, always done with a smile.