A PROJECT which helps people to build themselves a better future has seen its first students graduate from its course.
The pilot programme is being run for those who rent from East Durham Homes (EDH) and want to improve the skills they need to get a job.
It was launched through a partnership between the landlord, East Durham Partnership and Durham County Credit Union, and invites tenants to complete a two-week course.
They can then get a £500 loan from the Credit Union and a £200 voucher to buy an essential furniture pack from the partnership’s household furniture and white goods factory at Seaview Industrial Estate in Horden.
Ellen Foxton, the partnership’s chief executive, said: “We have been supporting people to obtain qualifications and work experience through our furniture charity for over 20 years now, but by joining forces with East Durham Homes and Durham County Credit Union it means that we can provide a much better offering to those people who really need it.”
The course includes workshops and training to improve interview techniques and job-hunting skills.
Participants get work experience and can access support with literacy and numeracy, going on to gain NVQ qualifications.
Paul Mains, interim chief executive of EDH, said: “Unemployment is a big problem in our area so it’s important for us to work together with other agencies to break down some of the barriers of getting into work.
“Many of our customers will be badly hit by welfare reform and it’s getting increasingly important for them to receive advice and support to minimise the effects.
“Those people who have more bedrooms than they need and who currently rent furniture packs are going to be hit the worst, and we would encourage any customers with the packs to get in touch about how to reduce the impact.”
The first of the three people to complete the course was able to get a range of furniture for their home and, despite previously being unemployed for four years, went on to gain a six-week work contract.
David Snowdon, from the credit union said: “This pilot is one of a number of innovative projects we are developing and we’ve had a lot of interest from other providers wishing to duplicate it in other areas.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris also backed the scheme.
To find out more, contact East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or 518 5497 from a mobile.