The UK’s biggest online retailer of short dated and surplus food and drink stock, Sheffield based Approved Food, has taken the lead in showing 18 to 24 year olds across the City that they needn’t be victims of youth unemployment. A signatory to the Sheffield’s Working employment programme, Approved Food is now the joint largest provider of Supported Work Placements in the city and is proudly maintaining its leading role in offering careers opportunities to young adults.
“We’re delighted with Approved Food’s outstanding contribution to Sheffield’s Working. We’re hoping that their story will inspire more local organisations and businesses to help those Sheffield residents who are facing the greatest barriers move into work and progressing their careers.” Daniel Inniss, Senior Project Officer, Sheffield City Council.
Sheffield’s Working, was launched by Sheffield City Council in 2015. Since March, Approved Food has provided a remarkable eight Supported Work Placements to local young adults making the company the joint largest supporter of the programme.
Dan Cluderay, Approved Food’s Founder said, “The Sheffield’s Working programme is a perfectly good fit for our organisation’s ethos. We like to think we make a difference to the environment, to our customers and to our community – so doing our bit to support local people back into work does all of these!”
After being rejected for investment by the BBC’s Dragons Den, Founders Dan Cluderay and Andy Needham never looked back – but some of the Dragons did! – though it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the two entrepreneurs who recognise that one of their key challenges in the early days was to appoint local staff with the right motivation and right experience.
Richard Green, newly appointed General Manager of Approved Food, was instrumental in signing up to the Sheffield’s Working programme and in making sure it delivered for the business. He said: “Everybody who is on the programme has joined it voluntarily – which makes all the difference in terms of motivation and commitment!”
“Sheffield City Council and Approved Food have worked together now for almost one year, initially on the Ambition Project and more recently the Sheffield’s Working Programme. In this time the support that all the team at Approved Food have given was nothing short of sensational. They have helped and trained eight of our candidates through work experience which has turned into full-time employment with their organisation.” Daniel Inniss added.
What candidates interested in a Supported Work Placement need to know:
Successful candidates are invited for an informal interview where they will also be offered help with interview skills. If they are a good fit for the business, they may be offered a part-time short work experience placement. If they are performing well, and Approved Food has an opportunity available for paid work, they’ll then be offered a full time work trial for 2 weeks. This is seen as an important step by Approved Food since going from 3 to 5 days is a good test of the candidates’ real commitment before being offered an employment contract.
Richard Staton gained a full time employment contract at Approved Food after starting a four-week work experience on The Ambition project in May 2017:
Richard said “Since I got given the opportunity at Approved Food I’ve been able to get my own rented flat as I am now more financially stable. It isn’t just the financial impact I have noticed, my social life has greatly improved. I’ve gained more confidence as an individual and made new friends. I’ve also gained new skills which I feel will benefit me in life and future work.”
Dan Cluderay concluded “We’ve diverted a whopping 40 million items from landfill – that’s 6,000 tonnes – since we launched Approved Food in 2008. We couldn’t have done it without the commitment and skills of our staff. The Sheffield’s Working Employment programme means that we can help Sheffield’s residents get the career break they deserve whilst getting the support we need to continue making a difference.”