Two new services are aiming to help people aged 25 and over across County Durham into employment, thanks to European funding.
The Community Led Local Development (CLLD) North Durham Assist and South Employability Mentoring projects will support people to take practical steps to get into work or start their own business.
The projects, launched with over £350,000 of European Social Investment Funding, will offer personalised one to one support to people aged 25 and over, helping them to develop the skills they need to stand out in the job market.
The two projects aim to support over 425 participants over three years, tailoring support to people’s individual circumstances.
Part of the projects’ funding has been used to employ two specialist mentors, Alison Shann who will work in the north of the county, and Debbie Watson who will cover the south.
Alison said: “Debbie and I work in communities to deliver information, advice and guidance, offering help with tasks such as CV writing, preparing for interviews, job searching and finding volunteering or work experience placements. We can also give any budding entrepreneurs advice on how to set up their own business.”
The two mentors are already seeing positive results from their work with local people.
Claire from Chester-le-Street, had been out of work for three years despite her previous childcare experience.
Claire worked with mentoring officer Alison to improve her confidence and complete safeguarding and paediatric first aid training, which helped her to secure employment as a nursery nurse.
The project was also able to fund Claire’s Disclosure Barring Service certificate, removing the final barrier and enabling her to start work.
Claire said: “I didn’t know there was so much support available for unemployed people. I was overwhelmed with how much help I got from the project, Alison was so supportive and really helpful. The project definitely helped me get back into work.”
Debbie worked with Donna from Bishop Auckland. Debbie’s ambition was to work in the care industry but her lack of practical experience was holding her back. Debbie helped her to find and apply for potential volunteering opportunities at her local hospice, a role that she loves.
Donna said: “Working with Debbie has helped me get into volunteering and I am loving it. I have been able to update my CV to send to potential employers. In the short time I have been working with Debbie I now realise what it is possible to do and my confidence in my abilities has really improved.”
Residents who are not in employment can access support by contacting Durham County Council’s Employability Team on 03000 262 009.
• Pictured (above, left to right): CLLD North Mentor Alison Shann, chair of CLLD North Kevin Howe, Cllr Carl Marshall, chair of CLLD South Dave Spensley and CLLD South Mentor Debbie Watson.