As an Employment, Training & Skills Co-ordinator, Scott Gamble provides employment support for Grand Union customers. He’s part of a wider Community Investment team which helps to improve the lives of those who live in our operating region.
Scott has been at Grand Union for nine years and over that time has helped many individuals find employment and develop their skills. He said: “My role is incredibly rewarding; I get to work with motivated people that perhaps might just need a few pointers along the way, and then see them flourish.”
Working together at Grand Union
Scott works closely with other members of the Community Investment team and with teams across Grand Union, helping to provide tailored support for different customers, with varying needs.
“At Grand Union, we know the best results are achieved by working together. There are numerous ways in which customers are referred to me; this includes from Customer Partners and other front line staff members, who have direct relationships with customers. People can also self-refer themselves through our website.
“I often liaise with the Welfare Benefits team, who help customers receive any benefits they are entitled to and establish whether they are finding it hard to gain employment.
“After establishing the customer is happy for me to help them find work, I arrange a quick chat. I like to drop them a call and then meet up for a coffee, as I think the best way to get to know someone is in person. At these meetings we talk about aspirations for the future, what they are currently doing for work or any voluntary positions, any training needs and their employment history.
“I’ll often help people with their CVs – from updating the document, formatting it correctly and sometimes creating one from scratch. Despite interruptions to these services during the pandemic, I also provide classes designed to hone interview skills and host job fayres in the community.
“I also work closely with Grand Union’s Youth Participation Co-ordinator, Nicola King, particularly with Project MacKenzie – a programme set up with Olympic medalist and entrepreneur Kriss Akabusi, to help young adults find work.”
Getting the taste for employment support with community cafés
Beginning his career with social enterprises in London, Scott later began work for Central Bedfordshire Council. He played a pivotal role in setting up a number of community cafés, providing local opportunities for people to develop skill sets and find work.
“Setting up community cafés was the first key step in providing local employment support; everything grew around the cafés themselves. I started off by working with housing associations, including Grand Union, to set up cafés in Central Bedfordshire. This drew attention from other organisations in the area and I also advised community-focused organisations further afield. It was something I felt passionate about, I could see the difference I was making.
“When a role came up at Grand Union, an organisation I had worked with for a while, to set up its first community cafés, I had to apply.”
Scott was successful in his application and from the moment he joined Grand Union, he hit the ground running. He helped to set up a number of cafés, which grew from an original hub, in Central Bedfordshire, to Milton Keynes, Northampton and more.
Seeing customers develop and thrive
“It was a great pleasure to set up Grand Union’s first ever community cafés and seeing the impact they had on local people. It helped me build relationships with the community and help people on their journeys to find work.
“One of the first customers I worked with set up his own waste recycling business and has done contracting work for Grand Union. I am due to have a catch up with him soon to find out how his business has been going since the pandemic. Seeing customers develop and thrive over the years is such a rewarding part of my role.
“Another customer, Paul, has been out of work for some time, so I’m helping him with training and interview tips to gain employment. He’s keen to find work in a driving role or on a construction site. He struggles with reading, so I helped him pass his necessary exams by reading out questions. Having passed his exams, he can now apply for more qualified roles.”
Scott recently helped a family of Syrian refugees find employment, training opportunities and a fresh start in the UK.
“It was incredibly heart-breaking to learn of the struggles the family had been through; I was eager to help them in the next step of their journey. The week they arrived in the UK, they came to a jobs fayre I had set up in Flitwick. I was amazed at their resilience and drive. An unbelievable motivation.
“The family’s son Darwish is an aspiring carpenter and has skills in the trade. He needs experience working in construction to help him achieve his dream but struggles with English comprehension, which is holding him back from getting a “green card” – passing exams to enable him to work on particularly big sites.
“As with Paul, I was recently delighted to help him on his career path by reading out the questions on his industry exam papers. We received confirmation that he passed his exams, meaning he is now able to work on large building sites. Phil Hardy, Executive Director of Operations at Grand Union, joined me to present Paul and Darwish with their certificates, which was a very proud moment for me.
“I also witnessed how far Darwish’s sister, Dima, has come. When I first met her at the jobs fayre, she was suffering in pain with her prosthetic legs. To see her now, with amazing new prosthetics, enabling her to pursue her passion of running, is very moving.
“I got to know the family very well and they are just one example of the many individuals I work with, who are a credit to themselves, and have a tenacious drive. Their progress and the way they have overcome adversity is wonderful. It’s people like this who motivate me to work hard every day, in a fulfilling role, one that makes me proud to get out of bed each morning.”