TuffCycle is one service within a broad spectrum of services working to tackle homelessness in Sheffield. We aim to empower homeless individuals to simultaneously improve their employability skills and personal well being.
Although employability is notoriously difficult to define (the concept does not only relate to the individual but evolves in line with changes in labour-market regulations, population size and the state and structure of the economy), being able to demonstrate one’s employability skills is essential for anyone hoping to get, keep and succeed in a job within any employment sector. Whilst employability skills have long been understood as those developed via education, work experience and work-based training, such as college qualifications, cash handling experience and computer skills, there is currently a positive trend towards a more inclusive understanding of employability: in addition to hard skills, an individual's non-industry-specific attributes or ‘soft skills’, are now understood to be of equal if not greater importance to their ability to enter, progress and succeed in their chosen occupations.
Interpersonal skills, organisational skills, analytical skills and personal skills are all ‘soft skills’ that despite being more difficult to measure by ‘hard outcomes’, nonetheless prove to be of vital import not only to employers but to an individual's sense of personal well-being. A positive attitude, self-confidence, self-motivation and self-determination are all examples of ‘soft skills’ that have not only been proven to influence employers when evaluating candidates, but to improve an individual's ability to cope with personal and professional challenges and in turn improve their general mental health and life satisfaction.
As proponents of a more inclusive approach to employability, TuffCycle create, develop and run dynamic and holistic programmes designed to equip individuals who have suffered a combination of long-term unemployment, homelessness and social isolation, with the skills and confidence they need to think positively and proactively about their future. Via a program of activities aimed at establishing and/or improving employability skills we are providing these individuals with an environment in which they not only gain practical, hands on experience but vital opportunities for personal development.
“I started TuffCycle when I was homeless and living in a hostel. My confidence was really low and I didn’t think that I’d be able to stick with the programme. But as I got into it, I became more involved and my confidence grew. Now I feel like one of the core people in the project. I’ve completed a table, which I never thought I’d do, and with TuffCycle’s help, I feel better able to apply for jobs and attend interviews. I’ve started to think about new ways of using skills I already had. I’ve now moved out of the hostel and have got a job. Being able to stick to this project has shown me that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”