Debt problems, benefit troubles and hunger: How a job club is helping a community get back on its feet

Durham Police Crime and Victims' Commissioner Ron Hogg presents a certificate marking the 500th attendee milestone to  community job clubs project co-ordinator Lisa Taylor.
Durham Police Crime and Victims' Commissioner Ron Hogg presents a certificate marking the 500th attendee milestone to community job clubs project co-ordinator Lisa Taylor.

A job club has 500 reasons to celebrate after reaching a milestone in helping people find their foot on the career ladder.

The Peterlee Job Club is one of nine that operate across East Durham, giving people a place to make job searches and update CVs in venues much closer to home and are less formal than Government-funded centres such as Jobcentres and colleges.

Durham Police Crime and Victims' Commissioner Ron Hogg visits the  Community Job Club at Community House, Peterlee.

Durham Police Crime and Victims' Commissioner Ron Hogg visits the Community Job Club at Community House, Peterlee.

To mark its achievement of reaching 500 attendees, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington, Ron Hogg, visited to present a certificate to commemorate the landmark figure.

The Job Club is part of the Stop Poverty In East Durham (SPIED) project, which is managed by East Durham Trust.

Since the SPIED project began less than two years ago, more than 60 people have been helped into work and hundreds of others have been supported with services ranging from debt advice to emergency food through other strands of the project.

Malcolm Fallow, chief executive officer of the trust said: “The SPIED project, and the jobs clubs in particular, are a critical component in our attempts to stop local people falling into the poverty trap.

With issues like welfare reform and Universal Credit hitting local people hard we need every means of support available to us.

Malcolm Fallow

“With issues like welfare reform and Universal Credit hitting local people hard we need every means of support available to us.”

The SPIED project is funded by Big Lottery and other elements include a transport to work scheme and a programme of holiday activities for children who may be reliant on free school meals.

The project is volunteer-led and also includes advice and support in areas such as welfare, benefit claims and debt.

Mr Hogg said: “There are clear links between crime and high levels of unemployment so I am naturally delighted to lend my support to this initiative which is clearly helping people to find work and should also have the effect of reducing crime and antisocial behaviour.”

Police visit the Community Job Club at Community House, Peterlee.

Police visit the Community Job Club at Community House, Peterlee.