A project giving young unemployed Wealden people a lifeline to get their lives on track has had its funding removed.
Local businesses and communities are being asked to step in to plug the gap and fund the scheme, which in future will be called Wealden Works.
Uckfield Town Council this week pledged £10,000 towards a target of more than £80,000 needed in this financial year to keep the project open.
Wealden Works, as it will be known from May 1, will support people aged 16 to 24 and classified as NEETS (not in education, employment or training).
Youngsters receive training and work experience to get them into employment or education “on a path that they wish to take and have an interest in”.
Funding originally came from Tomorrow’s People, a national charity, but cuts means it has removed support from what was known as Heathfield Works, established in 2011, and Hailsham Works.
Town councillors were told in a report: “Hailsham Works ceased to continue prior to Christmas and has been subsumed into the ‘Heathfield Works’ project and this project will cease to be funded by Tomorrow’s People after March 2017.
“The Heathfield Partnership Trust are looking for the project to continue as an organisation (charity) in its own right and become ‘Wealden Works’ with the support of local businesses and the local community.”
Councillors were given a presentation on Wealden Works and immediately praised the work being done. In recent times seven young people have been helped at Heathfield.
How does the scheme work?
The project runs four ten-week courses per year. Ten young people are selected for each cohort and are required to attend each day of the ten weeks from 9.30am, to ensure they become used to structure and routine.
They attend workshops on employability, receive support in writing CVs, looking for work, budgeting, life skills, food shopping and where necessary undertake qualifications in first aid, food hygiene or customer service to ensure they have some basic skills which would be transferrable to the workplace.
Staff provide intensive support to assess needs and interests, and understand what motivates them. Every cohort will have different needs and therefore the support provided will be tailored to that group.
The project looks to find them opportunities with local employers and community groups and provide real life experience and guidance.
The project focuses on confidence building and community activities, in order for the young people to see the benefits of team work etc.
The project also acts as a safety net once the young person is in their training,
education, apprenticeship or place of work by helping them to find transport to reach their destination (which is not always easy in the rural areas of the district), make sure they’re up in time in the morning and make sure they are dressed correctly for the job.
Young Person A was sleeping on the sofa of friends and his sister. He had obtained a Level 3 in Mechanical Engineering but had not managed to find work and with sofa-surfing, found it harder and harder to get work, and make a life for himself.
The project supported him and gave him the routine and structure he needed. They supported him by better preparing him for interviews and the workplace and with their support he attended up to three interviews, and was successful in finding work with a local woodland business. He is doing really well and his new employer has been pleased with his progress and how the young person has settled in and picked up the job so quickly.
Young Person B was homeless and struggling with his situation. The project supported him and learnt that he was keen to undertake manual work.
Frogheath Landscapes took him on as a trial. At first it was not plain sailing, but as time moved on, the young person became more settled with the routine and structure of the work and became passionate about horticulture and what he was learning.
He was offered an apprenticeship and helped the firm with their exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show. This young person was nominated as Young Achiever of the Year and attended 10, Downing Street to receive his award.
Young Person C had an interest in care and decided they wanted to become an emergency care assistant.
They were provided with opportunities to meet with the First Responders and Red Cross, and funding was provided to enable them to undertake the relevant medical and tests. To undertake the relevant training would take some time, so whilst the young person was awaiting a place, they managed to find temporary work at the emergency responders assessment (call) centre.
– Case studies taken from the report provided for Uckfield town councilors.
• Heathfield Town Council is providing funding of £5,000 over the next three years in line with an agreement which began in 2106/17.