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Project to help people back into work

Natalia Wealleans-Turner, Project Manager of Building Better Opportunities Getting Cumbria to Work

A project to help people back in work is urging people to contact them for support even during lockdown.

The Building Better Opportunities Getting Cumbria to Work (BBO GCtW) project supports people in the Barrow and South Lakes area aged 18 and above, who are either unemployed or economically inactive.

It is aimed at helping people facing multiple and complex barriers to move towards employment.

People who have been helped include mums looking after pre-school children or people caring for loved-ones, people with physical and learning disabilities or mental health conditions and people recovering from problematic substance use.

The project has also worked with some of the refugees from Syria in Barrow.

It is keen to attract more participants and believes its work has never been more crucial.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought its own set of challenges for people,” said project manager Natalia Wealleans-Turner.

“Some people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic’s effect on the economy.

“Meanwhile those facing personal difficulties and complex challenges who were already trying to find employment are now competing for jobs against more people, because unemployment rates have increased significantly.

“They will now be competing against people with a consistent work history and who are very confident in their skills set, which means they are pushed even further from the labour market.”

The pandemic had also had an effect on people’s mental health, with anxiety levels rising due to greater economic pressures and people having to manage multiple constraints, such as managing their children’s education at home, said Ms Wealleans-Turner.

But she stressed the project was on hand to work holistically to help individuals address personal difficulties and complex barriers and so be in an improved position to move towards employment.

It offers a blended method of delivery using virtual and face-to-face support. For example, there is a wide programme of online training, health and wellbeing activities, including weekly yoga and meditation sessions.

COVID-secure face-to-face is offered on a one-to-one basis and in groups where restrictions allow.

There are online training courses, such as how to use job search programmes, how to build or update CVs effectively, job interview techniques and how to recognise transferable skills.

Some participants have been supported to take online training courses in subjects as diverse as interpretation and translation, zoology and veterinary nursing – and, in some cases, the project has funded the course.

Face-to-face sessions are about building a relationship with a participant, perhaps helping them manage their anxiety, build their confidence and self-esteem or understand any debt they might be in.

The project is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund and is run by Cumbria Council for Voluntary Service (CCVS) in partnership with The Well at Barrow, Right2Work, Barrow Women’s Community Matters and Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS).

“We are looking for more participants as we are keen to help more people in need,” said Ms Wealleans-Turner.

“We know there are people out there who would really benefit from the work of the project and in fact one of our partner organisations, CADAS, is strongly encouraging people to access their wide range of support and services; participants with or without a substance issue.”

To contact the CADAS key worker, Clare Rogan, call 07858 238 428 or email [email protected]

For more information visit www.gettingcumbriatowork.org.uk or search for Building Better Opportunities Getting Cumbria to Work on Facebook.

People can also email [email protected] or ring Paula on 07776 593795.