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Jake Rotherham – Communities that Work

Jake Rotherham is a software engineer with Social Telecoms. He is based in the community interest company’s headquarters in Shrewsbury but his work involves quite a lot of travelling, which appeals to someone who doesn’t like to be in the same place for too long.

“I gave up my previous job and spent six months seeing the world. I got a huge amount out of the experience and wouldn’t do anything differently but to be honest, I hadn’t expected to find it as difficult to get back into employment.

“A lot of the vacancies that came up were in areas that I couldn’t reach by public transport and the pay tended to be so low that I couldn’t have afforded to move closer to work. It was hard to stay positive when I’d apply for a job and never hear anything back. You start to feel as though you haven’t got a purpose, a reason to get up.”

Jake was unemployed for nine months and his savings were rapidly running out when he joined the Prince’s Trust Team project,  a personal development programme for young people involving a community project, a residential trip, work experience and employment skills training.

More than 10 per cent of young people in Shropshire are not in employment, education or training – the highest proportion in the West Midlands. While the county town features in the 2018 Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide, five estates supported by Severnside Housing rank among the most deprived ten per cent of LSOAs for education, skills and training.

Since 2011 Severnside Housing has delivered the Prince’s Trust Team project in partnership with City of Wolverhampton College. Following an external audit, Severnside’s The Apprentice-style employability challenge has now been adopted as a model of best practice for the Trust.

All the area’s Team participants have the opportunity to spend a week in the housing association’s community-based Digital Dens, where they learn how to search for vacancies, apply for work and stand out at interview. At the end of the week they put those skills into practice with a realistic recruitment event at Severnside’s head office. By the end of 2018, 155 unemployed young people had completed this challenge, with more than half progressing into work, further education or self-employment – including Jake.

“The Prince’s Trust team leader told me about Social Telecoms and asked if I’d like to go for an interview straight away. I had thirty minutes to prepare during the bus journey and used what I’d learned from Claire and Edge in the Digital Dens. I found out as much as I could about the company, thought about the questions I’d like to ask and reminded myself to stay calm and speak slowly.”

Jake’s interview couldn’t have gone better.

“They told me straight away that I was successful. I’d been interviewing for work experience and left with a full-time job!

“I love what I’m doing now, designing and building websites. Every day is different. “I travel quite a lot and from one week to the next I could be asked to go anywhere in the UK.”

“The job has given me more confidence and of course it has eased my financial pressures too. I’m travelling again soon, but this time I’m doing it as a holiday. Some of the friends I made on my trip are meeting in Amsterdam and I’m hoping to take a couple of weeks off to travel around a bit and attend the meet-up. It feels great knowing I can afford to do it properly.

“I’m really grateful for the help I received and I wish everyone had the opportunity to spend time with Claire and Edge. They’re so enthusiastic and they make you believe in yourself.”


We’re supporting the #CommunitiesThatWork campaign, seeking to raise awareness for the work that the social housing sector does to help people into employment. Pledge your support now!