Catch 22: Horizons employability programme

25 January 2022

Horizons – a new approach to tackling unemployment and underemployment.

Recognising the significant impact of the pandemic on young people’s opportunities has informed our grant-making both locally and more widely.  In Buckinghamshire we have made increasing access to opportunity for local young people a funding priority.  Outside of Bucks we are also working with organisations who share this commitment.  Read on to hear from current grantee, Catch 22, who we are supporting to deliver the Horizons employability programme.

Catch22 is a charity and social business, working across a number of areas – including justice, education and employability – to improve public services. We believe that in order to thrive, people need what we call the 3 Ps; good people around them, a safe place to live and a purpose in life. We apply this philosophy to all our work, not least our ambitious and growing employability hub.

The current unemployment rate stands at around 4.3% (higher for 16-24 year olds where it’s at 11.3%).[1]  Yet 21% of working age people are economically inactive and more than 10% of 16-24 year olds are on zero hours contracts.[2]

At Catch22, we support thousands of people every year into training and work.  The people we work with all face barriers to work; whether that’s because of their ethnicity, gender, mental or physical health or personal situation.

Horizons is our flagship employability programme and is one of the first programmes to address both unemployment and underemployment (which is where work is either low paid, unstable, or without opportunity to progress). It’s supported by Rothschild Foundation and JPMorgan Chase with the initial target of helping 400 people who faced barriers to work into jobs and training.

Initially focussed on people in London, the programme provides participants with:

Support from Career Coaches

  • Participants work with Career Coaches to develop a bespoke, aspiration-based career plan. Support will include coaching, relationship-building and practical support (eg. helping someone access housing services).

Group pre-employability support

  • Participants work in groups to gain key employability skills: communication; problem-solving; team-working, writing CVs and cover letters; applying for jobs; interview techniques and setting future career goals.


[2] EMP17: People in employment on zero hours contracts – Office for National Statistics (

Volunteer-supported inspiration sessions

  • Volunteers from professional careers help participants understand their roles and what their jobs are like from the inside.

A menu of technical training options

  • All participants are encouraged to complete technical training courses and gain relevant licenses, where it supports their journey.

In-work support

  • Participants receive up to 6 months of in-work support from the Catch22 team. Participants are allocated support workers to help them identify any challenges; such as being punctual, adjusting to a new working environment, emotional responses, and accessing the Catch22 bursary for food or travel in their first week, or any training materials they need.

Horizons also provides access to laptops and connectivity support for people where digital exclusion presents a barrier.

CASE STUDY: boosting confidence to return to work

26-year-old Kimola is a single mum and had been out of work for 5 years when she became the primary carer for her grandma and a mum. She was finding it it hard to find work that fitted around her childcare responsibilities – but was keen to get back into the workplace.

“It was a fantastic experience! My Career Coach was so lovely and understanding – she helped with my confidence and gave me tips on how to speak more confidently and how to relax. She really worked hard to find me  jobs that were flexible around my childcare commitments and a role that was sustainable (and not just the first role that came along!) She boosted my confidence to apply for HMRC for an administrative post.

“I never thought she could do an admin role, but I got the job! Not only that, my role was quickly extended and I moved to another department with more responsibility. I now have aspirations to become an immigration officer.

“I would recommend the Horizons programme to anyone.’’