JOBLESS Wearsiders are being give a helping hand getting back into work.
Charity Connect hopes to get people on the road to employment, with courses run from its base in Sunderland’s East End.
Skills-based training courses are delivered from the former sawmill in Moor Terrace – once home to employment charity Etec Development Trust, which shut up shop in March 2012.
Since opening in January, Connect has welcomed hundreds of students through its doors – tackling courses including hospitality and catering, painting and decorating, carpentry skills and hairdressing.
Training manager Linda Valentine said: “The main aim of the centre is to provide vocational, skills-based training courses, to help people develop their skills to improve their prospects in the employment market. It’s often a big step for someone to return to learning after a lengthy spell, so we try to provide a welcoming atmosphere, where learners can feel confident and comfortable, and simply enjoy the time at the centre.”
The three-storey building is also destined to become a hub for the community, with a cafeteria, fitness suite and hair salon.
Linda said: “Once we get the community in, they will see what’s going on here.
“The aim is to give people skills to get them into work.
“We’ve always had an interest in Sunderland and the people here, as we know what they need and knew there was low levels of employment.
“This building came up and it just seemed perfect.”
The charity is now liaising with employers in the area.
Linda added: “We are looking for opportunities all the time. We want to actually find out what the community want.”
Kelly Anderson, from the city’s East End, decided to study a hairdressing qualification after perfecting her skills on friends and daughter, aged 13.
The 34-year-old mum said: “I’ve been doing all my friends’ hair and go on to level two. I’d love to come back and do the diploma.
“It’s very friendly – it’s like a little family. Everybody should give it a try, because it is amazing.
“Connect, which is part of the recruitment arm of the North East Centre for Addictions (Neca), has funding available for learners aged 19 upwards, who are out of work and on certain benefits.”
Courses start again from August.
For more information and enrolment, contact Rachael White on tel. 414 6446.