Grants totalling £423,000 have been awarded to 15 charities, community groups and educational establishments working across the Solent area, under the Solent Community Grants Programme.
One of the organisations to be awarded a grant is South Downs College, Havant, who will use the money to build the confidence and increase the skills of those aged over 50 who are claiming out of work benefits or are economically inactive, to encourage and support them with education and training in areas such as literacy, numeracy and ICT in the workplace. People are encouraged to enrol for further training to achieve GCSE English and Maths qualifications with additional training available in areas such as business administration and food hygiene. Employment opportunities are available in health and social care, accounting, catering, and apprenticeships.
Aaron Butson, Director of Business Growth and innovation at South Downs College said, “The 50 plus age group is an area of particular concern. At Havant Job Centre there are many people who have specific need for help with their job search activities. Our project will enable targeted job search activities via expertly staffed job clubs run at our Leigh Park Learning Centre in conjunction with an intensive two week training programme that will develop many of the interpersonal skills required within the workplace.
The training programme will include activities that improve beneficiaries’ confidence within group settings as a means to preparing them to re-enter the job market. It will also focus on the needs of the individual to help increase motivation to participate in group activities”.
Storeroom 2010 on the Isle of Wight, another grant recipient, aims to relieve unemployment for Islanders through the provision of training, work experience and volunteering opportunities in order to find employment. The organisation is enabling local people over the age of 18 and currently affected by skills gaps to learn a trade such as carpentry and plumbing, allowing them to complete a course through to certification; while at the same time obtaining support and practical help with their search for employment. The group aims to provide courses and activities to a minimum of 70 clients in 2017, with the intention of successfully retraining and helping people to become work ready.
Nick Miller, CEO at Storeroom 2010 commented, “The majority of those we help have been long-term unemployed either due to mental or physical health issues or for most because of low level educational achievement. We have a high level of male clients looking to become involved with the trades industry, aspiring to achieve qualifications in areas such as plumbing and horticulture. Many long-term un-employed on the Isle of Wight have very little experience to put on their CV and we are aiming to address this issue through providing the opportunity for people to learn a practical skill that will be theirs to use in their future working life. Skills gaps are currently proving difficult for the local education system to overcome, which greatly affects our small island community and we are working towards alleviating this serious problem”.
Jakes Ferguson, CEO of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation said, “We are delighted that through the Solent Community Grants Programme we can provide vital opportunities for those in need in our community to find their way into work. The programme increases the prospects of people living in our communities and will encourage their ambitions, enabling them to progress and make a lasting difference to their lives”.
The second round of Solent Community Grants funding is now open and all eligible groups in the Solent LEP area wishing to support economically inactive people into job search and employment are urged to send in their applications before the closing date of 10th January 2016 via the HIWCF website www.hantscf.org.uk/grants.