EPP18 Graduation

(Employment Preparation Programme 18 graduates in the House Chapel)

Marked by a ring of “happy graduation” balloons on our iconic Barnabas doors, on June 30th we celebrated the graduation success of eleven participants from our eighteenth Employment Preparation Programme at our Employment Academy.

Highlights of the day included: a professional photography session; a delicious celebratory lunch – prepared in-House and expertly served by our hospitality team; and performances from our participants and Employment Academy staff, including speeches and an array of incredible poetry recitals.

We wanted to tell our Barnabas community more about what the next year looks like for our graduates, as they embark on a progression route back into lasting, good work. Supported by our dedicated progression team and our wonderful Barnabas mentors.



Graduation day at the House is a momentous occasion for our participants. It benchmarks the end of their experience at our Employment Academy and provides the opportunity to celebrate the many months of committed hard work to our Employment Preparation Programme. The day also provides a chance for our participants to celebrate with our dedicated team – who support them through the programme.

After seven weeks of training, workshops, interview preparation and an internship shadowing our own House staff in events, food, drink service, fundraising and administration, each participant walks away with a House of St Barnabas Employment Academy Certificate. Some participants walk away with a City and Guild qualification in hospitality or business and administration to boot. Crucially, each graduate has gained a network of pivotal support.

But the work doesn’t stop here, and neither does our graduates’ relationship with the House and its diverse membership community. We support each participant through a progression route that leads to long-term good work for the next year – and beyond.

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(Robert collecting his Graduation certificate from House Chair – Jenny Watson)

How do we do this? Each individual is supported by a mentor from our community and one of our progression team, who deliver a full year of tailored support – to help our graduates secure a London Living Wage and a home. Our team helps each participant through this process, speaking to the benefits provider and assisting in a process that may overwhelm and confuse most.

Alongside this, we provide each participant with CV training and interview prep, ensuring they feel confident using Zoom and Skype, crucial in a post-Covid interview world that assumes everyone has access to the same training and resources. The jobs we propose to our graduates aren’t randomly allocated, either. We match each participant with an Employment Partner who has a registered interest in our charity and mirrors our ethos surrounding good work. We think carefully about the graduate’s suitability to the employer, how their experience might favour, and we also consider what the employer might need from a candidate.

On securing employment, the Employment Academy funds their transportation for the first month, along with any necessary PPE or uniform that may be mandatory to their role. Particular attention is given to our graduates in this probation period, as getting back into work after a long period of unemployment can be stressful and hard to navigate. Our aim is for each participant to find lasting relationships with employers. The team also support the employer through the probation process, soothing any issues that may arise by providing three-way meetings between employer and graduate, to ensure the relationship is as strong and supportive as possible for both parties.

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(Graduates photographed with Brian Beaton (centre) – Employment Programme Manager)

The Employment Academy’s relationship with its participants often lasts longer than the year after graduation, with the progression team still working to support graduates from the third Employment Preparation Programme!

We are invested in every participant that walks through our doors, and we understand that each person’s journey back into employment is different – there is not a one size fits all formula when it comes to success, and not everyone will walk through the next year without set-backs.

But the journey is shared. The staff at our Employment Academy take pride in the ethos that we are one big House of St Barnabas extended family. No one gets left behind. We couldn’t be prouder of our graduate’s success.

Catch up with our blog and read more about our participants’ journeys to the House and experience of the programme by heading – here.