I’m very proud of the fact that since it was founded in 1998, Reed in Partnership has successfully placed thousands of people who had been long-term unemployed back into work. Reed in Partnership is now celebrating its 20th Anniversary.

In September 1997 REED was asked by the government if we would be interested in bidding to provide additional support to jobseekers in Hackney, East London. This was one of the worst areas for unemployment in Britain at the time. The government was looking for a partner with experience of jobs and recruitment to help deliver its New Deal programme in the area. After a fiercely competitive tendering exercise, REED was selected.

From the beginning we brought a new and innovative approach to tackling the many barriers to employment that were so typical of the area at the time. When Reed in Partnership opened its doors as a unique pilot in Hackney, with a service that was focussed on 18-24 year olds, our offering was totally new.

We converted an old job centre into a multimedia Campus, complete with an internet café, Employment Advisors and one-to-one counselling. Since then, this pioneering approach has become the basis for mainstream service provision up and down the country.

We held on tight to a single principle: no one is unemployable. We brought a jobs-first approach and we wanted to help people better understand how they could improve their circumstances through working. The people who came through our doors were not ‘clients’ or ‘the unemployed’, they became our Members. And at the end of every week, on Friday afternoon, we would fire rockets from the old yard behind the Campus to celebrate the week’s successes, one rocket for every Member we had placed into work.

Research consistently tells us that being long-term unemployed will have a significant impact on your quality of life and on your mental health. And although working to fix this can be really challenging, I firmly believe that supporting people back into work is a vital public service.

Paul, a participant on our Work Routes programme, had been in prison and battled drink and drug addiction when he joined the service. After suffering with depression, he began attending appointments with us for support with his CV and cover letters. He’s now landed his new job, he explained: “I am now working full time and this is going to change mine and my son’s life. I’m finally moving home in the next 12 months and life is now coming together.”

There are as many reasons for unemployment as there are people unemployed. Each case should be treated individually, and each individual benefits from advice and support unique to them and to their situation.

When Chris came to use our Better Working Futures service he advised us that he was a qualified Pastry Chef but had been struggling to find work in the industry due to his hearing impairment. With our support, Chris has now set up his own catering business. He said: “I have got the best support I could ever wish for, helping me in areas that I have struggled with in the past but I am now more confident with. I have achieved more than I ever thought.”

The growth of Reed in Partnership is testament to the quality and expertise developed across our organisation, and to the strong partnerships we have had with other organisations in local communities. This has opened up opportunities for us to increase our reach and to use our capabilities in other ways. Whether it’s providing youth development support with the National Citizen Service or preventing dangerous disease onset with the NHS National Diabetes Prevention Programme, the work of Reed in Partnership in 2018 continues to change people’s lives for the better. I would like to thank everyone who has worked with us over the last 20 years.

The future is bright for Reed in Partnership. There is so much more that we can achieve together in the next 20. If you would like to be part of our story, you can find the latest opportunities to work with us at reedinpartnership.co.uk/partners.

James Reed is the Chairman of REED