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The social regeneration work of a Staffordshire-based housing association has been singled out in the UK’s most prestigious business awards.
The 2017 Queen’s Awards list, published to mark the Queen’s birthday on April 21, sees awards bestowed for achievement in four categories: international trade, innovation, sustainable development and promoting opportunity.
Aspire Housing’s track record in addressing social disadvantage and supporting local communities to maximise their potential, has made the company one of the first recipients in the promoting opportunity category, which is new for this year.
The award, which is equivalent to an MBE for businesses, will be presented to Sinéad Butters, Chief Executive at Aspire Housing, at a Buckingham Palace Reception later this year.
This will be Sinéad’s second trip to Buckingham Palace, having previously received her MBE from the Queen in 2016.
Sinéad Butters, Chief Executive at Aspire Housing, said: “We are passionate about making a difference in our region, in our neighbourhoods and to people’s lives.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential irrespective of their background. Our role is to assist them through provision of quality housing, employment and training and support.
“In 2008 we took the bold step of acquiring a training business, PM Training, to further our social mission to support people into employment. Since then we have grown and extended our approach and we are proud to receive this royal recognition of our work.
“It is an honour to be among the first recipients in the promoting opportunity category and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues who make such a difference in our communities. It really is an enormous achievement for Aspire Housing.”
Aspire Housing launched a programme called Aspire 2 Work in 2010 to offer employability support to customers. As one of the first Housing Associations to offer this service, it resulted in people not only gaining employment and no longer relying on benefits, but also brought increased levels of confidence, self- esteem, ambition and wellbeing. Annually this service supports 300 customers to progress into either training or employment.
PM Training, the training arm of the business focuses on work preparation. It operates an open door policy, where all are welcome regardless of educational attainment and background. The majority of learners are 16-18 years old with low levels of educational attainment. Despite this, around 70 per cent progress into apprenticeships. This scheme was cited by BIS as a best practice model in the development of the national Traineeship programme and recognised by OFSTED as best practice.
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