VITAL support and training for jobseekers and those in poverty is having a transformative impact on hundreds of people across Conwy.
The team at Conwy Employment Hub aim to help people find work and seek out training opportunities, and after a year of unprecedented challenges, that guidance is needed more than ever.
The revamped Hub incorporates the successful Communities for Work, Communities for Work Plus, ADTRAC and PaCE programmes, providing anyone aged 16 and above who is not in employment, school or college with access to mentors and advisors who can help “remove barriers” and enhance their future career prospects.
The everyday pressures of life are often major obstacles, which is where they step in, helping with things such as transport costs, childcare support, tenancy and housing issues as well as arranging food parcels and supporting people with their mental health.
Libby Duo, Conwy’s Principal Officer for Skills and Employability, says partnerships with leading organisations such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Welsh Government and local businesses means they are well-placed to deliver solutions to those who need it most.
“The biggest priority for us is removing the barriers preventing so many people in Conwy from gaining employment and education,” said Libby.
“Many of them are able to work and are qualified but might be struggling in their personal lives, or unable to get to an interview because they do not have the bus fare, or someone to take care of the children. In some cases, they may not have anything suitable to wear for the interview and need our help.
“These are the very real problems facing people today, and it can go as far as being in food poverty; there could be substance and alcohol abuse, even domestic violence – they need a place to turn, and we are here for them.”
She added: “All of our programmes are voluntary, and during the Covid-19 pandemic we have had to move a lot of our support online.
“If you are searching for a job in the coming months and are struggling, get in touch with us. We have access to funding that will help to ease the burden, and training available in a wide range of areas.
“The Hub is also keen to hear from anyone wanting to start their own business, and those considering retraining or whose jobs are at risk because of the pressures of Coronavirus.
“There are opportunities out there in numerous industries – from healthcare to IT – and together we can identify them.”
As well as providing links to employment opportunities and a suite of free courses, Conwy Employment Hub can also aid with writing CVs, interview techniques and tips, volunteering, work placements, basic IT skills and confidence building.
Among those to have benefited from the programme is Patrick Cahill, who is currently in work and training to become a generalist advisor after suffering mental health issues in past years.
“I would not have a job or be looking to the future if it were not for the Communities for Work programme, which has been life-changing and possibly life-saving,” said Patrick.
“I have had, and continue to have, issues with mental health, needing to be ever mindful of any downturns. I also had misuse issues with alcohol and over the counter pharmaceuticals, which were extremely difficult to overcome.
“If it wasn’t for the intelligent and empathic support received, I possibly would not be here now, and I certainly would not be in work – not very long ago I would have thought it a pipe dream.”
Communities for Work is a voluntary programme funded by the Welsh European Funding Office and provides a £41.2m investment in employment support in the 52 Communities First Clusters across Wales– this includes £24.8m of European Union funds. The programme is co-sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions and runs until 2022.