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9th Dec, 2021

New-look awards will provide a 'lifeline' to West Midlands charities

NEW-look awards will celebrate successful Warwickshire businesses while providing a ‘lifeline’ to two Midlands charities.

The fourth Ladies First Professional Development Awards aim to recognise growth and resilience throughout the pandemic celebrate success stories while giving homeless charity St Basils and Suited For Success – which helps unemployed people prepare for a job interview – a boost into the bargain.

Nominations are open in 26 categories, with three new including Man of the Year, Excellence In Education and Best Family Business.

Established in 2016, award-winning charity Suited For Success by providing free coaching, employment preparation skills and interview clothing.

Chief executive Patricia White said: “After more than a year of not being able to fund-raise due to the face-to-face nature of the work, we’re especially grateful to Ladies First for throwing us this lifeline.

“The pandemic has left a huge negative impact on people’s self-esteem and mental health and we have seen a big increase in people needing our support, from interview coaching and dressing for job interviews to helping people feel confident again, once they’ve got a job, to go back into the workplace.

“This year and next year we’ll still be seeing the after-effects so the continuous work we are doing as a charity to get people back into employment is going to be more important than ever.

“Because it’s been 18 months or more since they’ve been working, a lot of people are now classed as long term unemployed and the longer you’re out of work, the less confident you are about re-entering the workforce. There’s a feeling of hopelessness for many people at the moment who have crossed that barrier from being unemployed to feeling they’re unemployable. And the economy is still very unstable.”

St Basils works with people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to enable them find and keep a home, grow their confidence, develop their skills and increase opportunities.

Established in Birmingham, the charity now has 42 accommodation projects across the West Midlands, including Leamington, Coventry, Solihull, Bromsgrove, and Redditch.

Barrie Hodge, spokesperson for St Basils said: “We are so delighted to be working with Ladies First. Homelessness is an issue that is seen by many as something that mainly impacts men, but 53 per cent of the young people we support are women and there is an increasing amount of women in temporary accommodation with their children.

“More than 120,000 young people presented as homeless in the UK last year. This support is vital to us so that we can continue to provide them with the care they need during a critical time in their lives.”

Awards organiser Tracey McAtamney said they were fitting charities to support in light of the recent challenges.

“There are a lot of awards around and for me it’s about supporting charitable causes that are relevant. This year these charities seem a good fit because they align very well with our professional development and encouraging people back to work and there have been so many younger people negatively impacted by Covid.

“While we’re celebrating our own success we can be mindful that there are a lot of people out there who do need our help and we can do that by not just raising funds but by raising their profiles.”

Finalists will be selected by an independent panel at a judging event on February 7, ahead of an awards ceremony in March. The closing date for entries is January 3.

Visit ladiesfirstnetwork.co.uk/awards-2020 for more information. Visit www.suitedforsuccess.co.uk and stbasils.org.uk to learn more about the charities.

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