The Howarth Foundation

Howarths and The Howarth Foundation has recently been shortlisted for the Community Award at the 2019 Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards. We wanted to share our story with you to give you an insight into some of our work that’s been making a difference…

In 2017, we decided to launch our own charity. The Howarth Foundation’s objective would be to place individuals who had experienced homelessness and addiction back into part or full-time employment or skills training, helping to aid their recovery, boost their self-esteem and integrate them back into society.

Our family-run HR, employment law and health and safety business, Howarths, would provide complimentary HR and employment law support where needed to any businesses who decided to give jobs to The Howarth Foundation’s clients, ensuring they were confident in the knowledge they would receive full and robust support.

Preparing our clients for the best chance of success

If you’ve battled addiction and homelessness, the prospect of getting back into employment is a daunting one. There are many hours of groundwork that The Howarth Foundation team puts in to ensure our clients stand the best chance of success when starting in a new role.

Before we even think about connecting a client with a potential employer, we support them with any training needs or qualifications, and facilitate the relevant course. We also ensure they have applied for a bidding number with Leeds City Council and provide financial assistance where required.

Securing a job interview is a major deal when you’ve spent long periods unemployed, so we provide support with every detail. We research bus routes alongside our clients, make the journey with them ahead of the interview so they’re familiar with the bus number, advise them where to get off, and ensure they are as confident and comfortable as possible ahead of arriving for an interview.

We spend time supporting clients with interview preparation, conducting mock interviews and working on confidence building. Preparation is crucial for our clients, who are often disconnected with the world of work and suffer from a severe lack of confidence.

Travel costs can also pose an issue; most of our clients simply can’t afford it. So, we allocate clients with a financial package including a weekly bus pass to get to and from any pre-employment training and a monthly bus pass when they start the job. We also support a clothing and food allowance for the first month of employment.

Educating and supporting businesses

Asking a business to give a job to someone who has spent time homeless is not an easy task. Many are daunted by what could go wrong, so we work hard to break down the stigma in order to give our clients a chance. To do this, we prioritise educating businesses across our community and region about the impact of homelessness, but more importantly – what they can do to help tackle the issue.

We’ve delivered several Business Building Futures seminars at prestigious locations including Elland Road Stadium and Victoria Gate Casino, focusing on our clients’ stories, the ins, and outs of employing someone who’s been homeless and what businesses can do to help tackle the issue.

To date, we’ve signed up over 22 businesses in official support of the The Howarth Foundation, that have committed to fundraising or offering employment opportunities for our clients.

We’ve influenced some of the region’s most respected employers to get involved with the charity, including Ringways Motor Group and Leeds United Football Club, both of which now employ The Howarth Foundation clients on a full-time basis. What a result!

Here are the brief stories of just some of the people whose lives have been changed through the work of The Howarth Foundation.

James Hill

When James’s successful business in Bermuda collapsed and he got divorced, he fell into a deep state of depression and turned to alcohol.

Moving to the UK in 2012 to seek help for his addiction, James ended up living in Birmingham before moving to Leeds in 2018, where he struggled for paid employment. He had no idea how to sort out the basics required to hold down a job, such as acquiring a national insurance number.

The Howarth Foundation first met James at an event in conjunction with St. George’s Crypt. We found out through talking to James that he’d gained extensive experience as a machine fitter in Bermuda, so we facilitated a meeting with one of our Business Building Futures members, Heckmondwike-based automotive parts supplier, Complete Group.

We also funded James’s training to help him gain the documents required to hold a job in the UK, and as a result, he secured a permanent role at Complete Group – and the company is now looking to fill two more positions through The Howarth Foundation.

Complete Group Managing director Graeme Stocks adds: “It’s definitely been a success, without a shadow of a doubt. A lot of that is down to James himself.”

Gavin & Scott

We are extremely proud to have enlisted the support of household names such as Leeds United Football Club, which is where we have helped Gavin to find employment.

After being introduced to LUFC managing director, Angus Kinnear, through The Howarth Foundation, Gavin was offered a three-month trial working in the club’s facilities team. The club was so impressed with Gavin that this has role has since turned into a full-time position at Elland Road stadium.

Mark Broadley, head of IT and facilities at LUFC, says: “Working at LUFC has boosted Gavin’s confidence and self-esteem immensely. He is an extremely competent and capable worker who is an asset to the team due to his skills and standard of work.”

Our relationship with Leeds-based Ringways Motor Group has also helped secure a permanent job for our formerly homeless client, Scott Mead. Scott is a kind, caring young man who had lost his way during a 27-year addiction but had since worked very hard to deal with his demons and stand the best chance of securing work.

We worked closely with Ringways managing director, Steve Russell, to persuade him to take a chance and give a job to Scott. This paid off, and we were able to secure a job for Scott washing and valeting cars at the dealership in Leeds. We also facilitated weekly meetings with Steve and Scott to ensure Scott received the level of support required to make the job a success – and he is still there over a year later and a respected member of the Ringways team.

Scott has since been helped to move into permanent accommodation, set up bank accounts for his wages and pass his driving test – the small things that most of us take for granted but ones that have made a huge, positive difference to Scott and helped him completely transform his life.

Steve Russell adds: “The loyalty I’ve seen from Scott has been unbelievable. He’s come in on weekends when he didn’t need to, stayed late at night when we have had events and offered to paint areas of the business, which would normally get outside contractors in for.”

Chris Sylvester

Chris started using heroin at the age of 12, and by the time he was a teenager he was registered with an addiction unit. He spent time in prison and then living on the streets of Leeds after his release, where he would steal cars with his friends and drive around the country shoplifting.

However, Chris decided to turn his life around and is now 16 months clean and is working as a Client Coordinator at The Howarth Foundation, encouraging other businesses to take a chance on people with similar stories to his.

Chris is working hard to make amends and wants to become a positive role model for his two daughters. He now sits on the steering group for The Howarth Foundation, giving him a real sense of purpose and the opportunity to influence the evolution of the charity and its future.

Chris adds: “The only education I had when I left school was how to take drugs, but now I’m back at college studying Maths, English and IT and have ambitions to one day open my own self-development business helping people overcome their problems and fears.”

The future of The Howarth Foundation

To date, combined fundraising efforts have raised more than £20,000 for the charity. These funds go straight back into growing the reach of The Howarth Foundation to help get more people back into work and turning their lives around after experiencing addiction and homelessness.

We’ve formed solid relationships with other charities in Leeds, including St George’s Crypt with whom we work extremely closely in order to identify individuals that have followed their programme and are ready to re-enter the world of work.

The difference we’re making has also led to The Howarth Foundation receiving official endorsement from Leeds City Council, and council representatives now sit on our steering group where we work closely with them to strive towards the eradication of homelessness in Leeds city centre.

We’ve successfully placed 15 people (and rising!) into employment, 14 people into skills training, supported 8 people into housing and helped one individual secure a life-saving place in recovery.

These are achievements we are extremely proud of, less than two years since setting up The Howarth Foundation.

The journey to employment can be extremely frustrating at times. The volatility of some of the clients we work with means they can relapse at any time, forcing us to go back to square one when we’ve spent months preparing the client and securing them the role and opportunity they desperately need.

However, the rewards far outweigh the frustrations, and we believe the positive difference we have demonstrated we are making to the lives of our clients and the community in which we operate makes Howarths and The Howarth Foundation a deserving winner of this year’s Community Award.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!