Westward Pathfinder

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Latest News

July 2017 - Employability Day

A fantastic turnout at our UK Employability Event this morning! A huge thank you to everyone who came out to see us at the Baptist Church and an even bigger thank you to the staff who took time out of their day to come along and represent our programmes. 

#ersa #empday17


April 2017 - Beach Survey with North Devon AONB

Our group of Community Rangers helped with #CoastalCreatures rocky shore surveying last week after an Intro to Rocky Shore workshop. A very busy day and some fantastic team work!


Coming soon to North Devon - Dame Kelly Holme's Trust, Get on Track

Get on Track is the trusts flagship community-based personal, social and emotional development programme.

The programme is led by world class athletes over a 14-month period and is aimed at young people aged 16-25 who are facing disadvantage.

Westward Pathfinder will be partnering with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and Active Devon to deliver to next programme in North Devon, following on from the successful Torbay event.



March 2017 - Westward Pathfinder Staff Day

A huge thank you to Drink Wise, Age Well Devon for putting together a brilliant information session for our Westward Pathfinder staff day. We can definitely say that everyone who attended found the session very interesting and informative! 
Another fantastic staff day, lots of information taken in and a brilliant opportunity for all our centres to get together as one!

November 2016 - We are Number 1 for job outcomes - nationally!

learndirect have confirmed Westward Pathfinder are the top provider nationally for job outcomes in their supply chain, for the third successive year.

November 2016 - Westward Pathfinder's Community Rangers

We are now recruiting volunteers to help on our Community Rangers project. Volunteers will support local community organisations, charities and local councils maintain their public areas and buildings. In turn volunteers will be learning new skills to help them gain sustainable employment.

October 2016 - Community Impact Support Scheme funding

Devon County Council's Community Impact Support Scheme funding for four Devon organisations including Westward Pathfinder. For the full article please visit the Devon News Centre here. 

May 2016 - Lottery Building Better Opportunities Press Release

We are delighted to announce Westward Pathfinder will be working with PLUSS as a core partner to deliver the Building Better Opportunities programme across Devon.

‘Building Better Opportunities’ to help disadvantaged people across Devon

A partnership of seven Devon organisations has been successful with a stage one application for the ‘Building Better Opportunities’ programme in Devon.

Building Better Opportunities is a project jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.

The new proposals, called ‘Positive People’, will engage and help Devon’s most socially excluded communities return to employment, education and training.

The partnership plans to support over 1,300 individuals who are out of work and face a range of barriers to build their skills, confidence and motivation. This will include people with disabilities, people with mental health issues, ex offenders, homeless people and people over 50.  Support for individuals will include basic literacy and numeracy skills, help to master digital technology, and preparation for work including job search.

The programme aims to benefit local communities by reducing poverty and anti-social behaviour.  It will also contribute to the growth of the local economy with employers having access to a pool of people with the relevant skills to meet their needs.

Lead partner Pluss will now work with the team of partners and other key stakeholders on the stage two bid which, if successful, will allow them to access £5 million in funding to deliver the programme over three years. The core partners are Pluss, Westward Pathfinder, Tomorrow’s People, Cosmic, Devon Community Foundation, Torbay Community Development Trust and Plymouth Octopus Project.

The partners will also work closely with the Heart of the South West LEP, Devon County, Plymouth City and Torbay Councils, Devon District Councils, and communities and participants to co-design the programme.

Pluss’ Chief Executive, Steve Hawkins, said “The partnership is aiming to support hundreds of disadvantaged people across Devon into sustainable employment.

“Working with the Big Lottery Fund is a proud moment for all seven organisations. This result confirms that our Devon partnership has the potential to deliver significant positive social change at a time when local devolution means Devon is taking on more responsibility for its own future.”

Jo Osgood, Chief Executive of Westward Pathfinder, said “we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Pluss on the development of such an important programme which has the potential to improve the lives of so many people across Devon.  At Westward Pathfinder we are passionate about giving our clients the greatest possible opportunities to fulfil their maximum potential and the partnership put together by Pluss will help us achieve those aims.”

A successful outcome at stage two will see delivery of this programme begin in early 2017.

For more information please contact Geraldine Scott-Smith, Communications Manager, on 07766 367267 or at geraldine.scott-smith@pluss.org.uk


Notes for editors

  1. Visit Pluss at www.pluss.org.uk or contact us on www.facebook.com/plussinspires and tweet us at @PlussInspires
  2. The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes. 

April 2016 - Finalists at the ERSA 2016 Awards

We are very pleased to be named finalists for the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Awards 2016. A big thank you to all the team at Westward Pathfinder, and to our partners at Jobfit for nominating us.


Work Programme - Susan's Story

Susan was referred to the Work Programme and had been unable to work for 15 years due to ill health and was lacking in confidence in her own skills and abilities.

To get her back into a routine and to build her skills Susan completed a Basic IT course and attended some craft workshops to get her used to being in group situations.  Susan went on to complete a digital skills course; again this built her confidence in her own abilities. To keep her activity levels up and to improve her confidence even more Susan was referred for literacy and numeracy level 1 which she completed and started to work towards level 2.

Our Employer Engagement Adviser arranged for Susan to meet an employer in an informal setting at a care home. This went really well and Susan’s National Careers Advisor completed a Better off in Work Calculation which showed that due to the disability element of Working Tax Credit, Susan would be significantly better off working for 16 hours a week. The care home manager was extremely encouraging and agreed to put some special measures into place (including transport) so that Susan could accept a role as a care assistant.

Westward Pathfinder helped Susan get her DBS and she started work on 14th September. Susan has been into the centre for help to close her claim to ESA and to help her to claim Working Tax credit and she is really happy.

Susan continues to receive “in work support” from her advisor. 

Carl gets work after redundancy

Carl initially came to Westward Pathfinder when he was made redundant from his job with a Joinery company which closed due to the recession. He was quite concerned as the recession was having a very bad effect on the construction industry and he was concerned he would not find suitable employment. During the initial IAG he mentioned that he had always wanted to go into Engineering and much research was done to find out if this was possible and what funding was available to help with his retraining. He managed to complete his first year of training and applied for funding to complete the additional 2 years . He has worked very hard to achieve his dream and is now happily working for a local company.


Joe is employed after proving himself on placement

Joe  had confidence issues about being referred to a work placement that he would not be suitable for.  He was very sceptical about the whole programme and any DAATbenefits it might have for him.

He was placed with Devon Air Ambulance and started placement as a van driver. In no time at all Joe fitted in and feedback and reviews were excellent. When a paid position became available Joe wanted to apply.

Joe was successful and is now paid the living wage for a 37 hour week and the proud driver of a brand new van.

Community Work Placement - Jane's Story

I started the CWP in November 2014 after I had been unemployed for nearly 3 years.  By this time I was feeling quite disillusioned and my self-confidence was very low even though I had applied for a lot of jobs and had quite a few interviews.
Dawn from Westward Pathfinder was very sympathetic and understanding and found me a suitable work placement almost immediately at Disability Support Torbay.  I was really pleased about this and looking forward to doing something useful and worthwhile.
My placement was ideal for me and everyone was friendly and helpful.  They made me feel really welcome.  I learnt about the organisation and what they did for disabled people.  I was then able to assist people with their enquiries either on the phone or in person.  I also did filing, photocopying and kept the database up to date.  People were very grateful for my help and I felt a great sense of achievement and of being appreciated.
As my placement was nearing the 26 week point it was very difficult to contemplate it all coming to an end and being back where I was.  The possibility of keeping me on was discussed if additional funding could be made available but I wouldn't get my hopes up until it was definite.  I was offered a part-time position in May and was so happy and grateful to  accept.  I am better off financially as I have no travel expenses and now have real job satisfaction and am looking forward to the future.

Matt gains employment through the support of our multiple programmes

Matt was referred to the work programme with very low self-esteem and no confidence in himself at all. He had no perception of his skills and felt he was completely unemployable. He had a lot of support from the Work Programme staff and while his improved self-confidence allowed him to attend a Sector Based Work Academy he Mattdid not gain employment with the employer because he could not swim. The benefit of the Academy was the fact that he had more confidence in his ability to build strong relationships with his peers and he really blossomed. He attended a National Careers Service workshop in December 2014 and was much more self-assured. Matt was then referred to Community Work Placements and was found a placement in a charity shop where he continued to develop. He was accepted as a valuable member of the team and contributed to the camaraderie and positive atmosphere and interacted well with volunteers, staff and customers.

With further support Matt gained employment at a local proprietor selling animal food and toys and Matt is extremely happy with his new employment. He is left alone while the owner is making deliveries and is very pleased with his situation and his finances.

Antony starts work at Barnstaple Town Council

While on the Community Work Placement programme at Barnstaple Town Council as an outdoor maintenance person Antony proved himself to be a hard worker with a particular desire to work outside. Since starting his placement he went from strength to strength and due to his hard work and determination Antony was invited to a job interview in front of the Town Mayor, the Assistant Town Clerk and Antony’s Line Manager where he was offered a full time job.

Barnstaple Town Council Assistant Town Clerk, Kate Graddock and Antony’s Line Manager, Fred Grimwood have been extremely supportive to Antony throughout his time on placement and continue to support him in employment.

July 2015 - Ofsted Grade 2 (Good)

Our Ofsted report was published yesterday. It truly demonstrates how much we focus on our customers and give them the fullest all round support that we can.

"Learners develop good social and personal skills, and develop their confidence and self-esteem so that they are ready for job interviews and subsequent employment".

"Learners progress well to further training, voluntary work or paid employment".

"Leaders and Managers plan the provision well to meet the diverse needs of learners and the particular vocational needs of employers". 

"Well qualified and experienced staff provide a high level of care and support, enabling nearly all learners to reach their full potential".

Particular thanks to Jo for working so hard to ensure the inspectors didn't miss anything and that they gained a full understanding of our organisation and what we do. Also a huge amount of credit goes to those who were interviewed or observed.

Westward Pathfinder 2015 Ofsted Report

15 offered interviews at jobs fair

Fifteen people are closer to getting work following a highly successful jobs fair held by Westward Pathfinder and Prospects in Exeter.

Companies at the event which matched employers with Work Programme participants seeking employment included, Prestige Nursing, Toy RUs, Carillion, Nurse Plus, Devon Cliffs, Bourne Leisure, Modus Care and British Ceramic Tile.

Carole Applybee, Devon Team Manager for Prospects said: "all fifteen were offered interviews".

Good news from the Families Action Programme

Jo is a returner to the job market after raising her young family. When Jo joined the Families Action Programme, she was motivated and keen to be prepared in every way to start looking for work. She was understandably apprehensive about the thought of going back to work as her children are young.

Jo successfully completed a one day Emergency First Aid at Work course which adds to her existing skills and experience as a Nursery Worker and gave her back her confidence in herself. Jo continued to be proactive and also completed an online IT course which refreshed her skills in this subject. CV, cover letters, personal statements, transferable skills, interview skills and the hidden job market have been areas explored by Jo and her advisor and are now in place.

With this new found confidence and ‘can do’ approach, Jo has recently applied for a handful of jobs both in Nursery Work and in Retail, gaining interviews and being offered a part time Bank Support position. Jo has achieved a great deal in a short space of time and is very positive in her outlook and we are delighted to continue to work with Jo until she secures a permanent position.


10 out of 10 at John Fowler's Sector Based Academy

Our recent Sector Based Work Academy for John Fowlers in Ilfracombe has resulted in all 10 participants being offered employment.  Well done all concerned!
 Five of the successful applicants.

Families Action Programme

Emma's Story

Emma had been in full-time employment as a Nursery Nurse for 12 years until April 2014 when the nursery closed down and she was made redundant. Emma initially attended the Skills Support for Redundancy Programme wherein she achieved a Level 1 CLait qualification. Due to her lack of confidence, Emma was referred on to the Families Action Programme. 

When she first came on board to FAP, it was very clear that Emma’s confidence had been knocked as a result of her redundancy however she had a very clear goal of wanting to continue in her career as a Nursery Nurse and to find a new job. Having been in full-time work since leaving school, Emma did not have a CV or covering/speculative letter and she had not had a job interview during this time so she was facing a lot of pressure in terms of selling herself to employers.

Together we created a new and up-to-date CV along with a covering and speculative letter. We also spent time doing mock interviews to re-build Emma’s confidence.

In August 2014 Emma was invited for interview at a local nursery and was successful in obtaining the job. Initially she remained on the programme whilst the Nursery carried out the DBS and reference checks and now she continues to be employed by the Nursery. Emma sent a Thank you card to her mentor for the support she had received whilst on the FAP programme.

Patricia's Story

Patricia came onto the Families Action Programme in October 2014. Having been unemployed for over ten years and struggling with family issues, Patricia openly struggled with a low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. However she did express her aim to move forward now and her willingness to engage in activities to help her achieve her goal.

Having never used a computer before, Patricia was naturally quite apprehensive to have a go, but with some encouragement she agreed to do a Digital Skills course in November 2014. After completing the course she reflected on her experience with her mentor and she acknowledged that despite some difficulties she had quite enjoyed the learning process. With her new found motivation, Patricia has just enrolled to do a Level 1 CLait course. This demonstrates Patricia’s growing confidence and her increasing drive to move forward in her life.

Michaela goes from volunteering to paid employment, she also achieves her NVQ Level 2 in Business Admin 

On my first visit to Pathfinder, Jayne Bosworth started me on IT1 Clait and then the ECDL Extra courses. I discovered I enjoyed the computer and I was offered a position on reception as a volunteer 2-3 times a week in November of that year. I loved it and realised this is where I wanted to work, as an administrator.

When I first started volunteering, I lacked confidence. I am naturally shy and found it quite a challenge but each week I gained more confidence and with the support of the Pathfinder staff, I found a belief in myself that I could do this job.  I enjoy it very much and feel a sense of ‘worth’. Something I have not felt before. It is a great feeling that I contribute to the working environment and work as a team member within the Pathfinder organisation.

After volunteering for 6 months, Westward Pathfinder gave me the opportunity to take the NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration. This would be a useful qualification to hold if I pursued my interest in working in Admin or Reception. I began the course with Lorna Lacey in May 2012. With her support and encouragement, she helped me to complete it and I really enjoyed the challenge and it was a great feeling of achievement when I was awarded the certificate.

A great outcome for me was being offered a part time job on reception two days a week at Bideford Pathfinder in March 2014. I am hoping to find  full time employment early next year in an admin type job when I move up to London with my partner.

I now feel I have the confidence and experience to apply for suitable admin jobs. I never believed I would find the confidence or experience to become a receptionist. Pathfinder has made this entirely possible for me - thank you Pathfinder!

Dec 2014 - Westward Pathfinder achieves a Grade 1 quality review for our "Programmes for the Unemployed"

"I have just had the brilliant & well deserved news that Westward Pathfinder have this month received the first & only (so far) Grade 1 for your "Programmes for the Unemployed" quality review! I’m very happy for you & keep on setting such high standards not only for quality & compliance but also in leading the field with the highest job outcome conversion rate too; proving that performance & quality can both go hand in hand!"  - (Supply Chain Manager at learndirect).

Nicola gains her NVQ in Business and Administration and Employment with Westward Pathfinder

Nicky had been out of the workplace for at least 2 years due to ill health.  Nicky was referred onto the Work Programme with Westward Pathfinder and supported by her Job Centre Plus adviser who still saw her every 2 weeks.  Her adviser suggested that it would be therapeutic to join a beginner’s computer course at Castle Street in Westward Pathfinder in Barnstaple.  Nicky’s confidence was virtually zero - she found it hard to even leave the house for 3 months prior to this she had not been out.

Nicky had not done any serious study since leaving college when she was 18.  She was apprehensive about being able to concentrate or enjoy the course “I nearly chickened out the first day and thought about not going”.  My youngest son “nicely ordered” me to go – he was brilliant!”.

Nicola proudly showing off her certificatesWhen she started the IT course Nicky felt proud of herself that she had made to the Centre in the first place and once she had attended a few sessions she looked forward to going and gave her a purpose to go out of the house. Upon completion of the beginner’s course, Nicky moved on to  the Level 1 and 2 computer courses, achieving CLAiT and ECDL with her confidence steadily improving.  The IT Centre Manager suggested that Nicky put an application forward to fill a volunteer vacancy on the front Reception desk at Westward Pathfinder head office.  Nicky’s first response was “I can’t do that Debbie!”  With encouragement from Debbie Nicky agreed to take on the challenge and was mentored by another member of Pathfinder staff at No 11 The Strand.  Nicky began to really look forward to getting up in the mornings. Learning new skills and being in a supportive environment helped to nurture her progress and build up self-confidence and self-esteem.

Nicky was now ready to start to start looking for part time employment.  With further support from a local organisation specialising in helping those with long term illness or disability to return to the workplace , Nicky was asked if she would like to complete a Traineeship.  For 6 months Nicky was employed by them and to extend her volunteering activities as a paid employee still based at Westward Pathfinder.   At the end of the 6 month traineeship Nicky was then permanently employed by Westward Pathfinder as a receptionist/administrator.

Nicky heard about the possibility of completing an NVQ in Business and Administration from someone who had achieved the same qualification whilst in a voluntary capacity.  She was referred to the Workplace Learning team at Westward Pathfinder who supported her through the NVQ, giving Nicky targeted training to help her develop in her role, validating her existing skills, extending her knowledge and learning in the workplace.

“I was really really proud of myself when I completed the NVQ. I did find it quite hard to step up to a higher level of learning which was down to me as an individual and not as part of a taught class.  It was up to me to motivate myself.  I found the course easy to follow and the information we had for each section was very good.  Another colleague was completing the NVQ at the same time and we found working with each other if we got stuck helped.  The whole experience from starting the beginner’s course to achieving the NVQ and permanent employment has changed my life completely.”

May 2014 - Customer Service Course Success

With help from Westward Pathfinder and Petroc and thanks to funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) Workplace Learning Project, two volunteers from Bicclescombe Park in Ilfracombe have successfully completed a customer service qualification through Westward Pathfinder and Petroc.

Lauren and Vanessa with their certificatesVanessa Archer and Lauren De Havilland run the café facility at the Old Mill in the park, which attracts hundreds of locals and tourists throughout the year. Both signed up to the Level 1 Customer Service NVQ to build their confidence and develop stronger customer relations, to encourage more visitors to the Old Mill.

On the course the two students built their knowledge and practice of customer service, allowing them to establish the basics before progressing onto the Level 2 NVQ in Customer Service.

Westward Pathfinder helped Vanessa and Lauren with regular reviews of their progress to maintain motivation and provided a pace of delivery that fitted in with their volunteering and child care commitments.

Vanessa said: “Completing the course and progressing onto a higher level has given me more confidence in my knowledge and more awareness of my approach to customers.”

Lauren agreed: “I feel more confident dealing with customers and it has helped the team of volunteers to bond in their roles”.

For more information on how ESF and the Workplace Learning Project can provide funding for individuals and employers please contact:


Excellent news on Job Outcomes - 24th April

We have been informed that we have risen from 8th in the national league table of learndirect providers for job outcomes to 1st.  This is a fantastic achievement!.

In addition we are the best performer for job outcomes in the South West for Skills Support for the Unemployed and Skills Support for Reduncancy.

Considering that the majority of our learners are long term unemployed, every one of these job outcomes is a life changing experience for the person concerned and this is a great reminder of why we do what we do, whatever the trials and tribulations involved!

Mike writes a book about his experiences - April 2014

Mike lost his job with the council as a CCTV operator due to budget cuts in 2010 and was referred to The Work Programme in December 2012 at Westward Pathfinder's Torquay office. By his own admission Mike was a negative person and this was by far his biggest barrier into employment.

Mike used to sit on a bench at the beach and think about his life, where he was and what he was going to do. In his own words the bench became a special place for him.

The whole idea of writing his book, documenting the journey and changing his life would not have happened if he had not had that location with the bench there to sit on. He realised one day that there was a dedication on the bench that he had not previously paid any attention to and on reading it set out to track down the family. Mike feels an infinity with Thomas Stigings (name on the bench dedicated by the family), the location and his own personal development.

Since then Mike has been involved with;

  • Interview with Mike & Radio Devon aired in early March on Breakfast Show
  • Second article on The Breakfast Show aired a week later as the great granddaughter of “Thomas Stigings” contacted the station

Meeting at the bench in Babbacombe with Mike and the great granddaughter who were interviewed by Radio Devon Breakfast Show again and The Torbay Times ( Photo attached showing L to R Matt from Radio Devon, Marilyn great granddaughter and Mike Hawley ) 2nd April.

Mike is writing a regular column on his inspiration and subsequent book for The Torbay Times. The Torbay Times will be covering this latest development in their next addition.

Devon & Cornwall Housing Tenants - Go Online

Our volunteer tutor helping learnersA group of supported housing tenants from Devon & Cornwall Housing have undertaken computer training at our Bideford Centre. The tenants completed the Learn My Way Online Basics course.

The group learnt how to;

- use a keyboard and mouse 
- search and explore the internet
- keep in touch with email 
- stay safe online
- use online public services

The whole group completed the introductory course and received a certificate.

Mike proudly showing off his certificate












Mike proudly showing off his certificate

Apprenticeship Showcase - Thursday 13 March

We were pleased to attend the Apprenticeship event organised by the Northern Devon Employment and Skills Board at the Barnstaple Hotel.

Apprenticeship Event, Barnstaple Hotel              

It was great to see so many young people from all the local schools investigating options available to them; they certainly came prepared with a raft of questions. Students attended various workshops provided by local employers and training providers.

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