FENLANDER: New three-year project to tackle unemployment - but lottery funding needed

A NEW three-year project has been drawn up to help unemployed people find jobs in Fenland – but it needs lottery funding for it to go ahead.

The scheme, called “Fenland Works!”, has been developed by Fenland District Council and other local organisations. They are approaching the Big Lottery asking for �200,000 to fund the scheme and are seeking public support to strengthen the bid.

The plan is to run a series of “work clubs” across Fenland over the next three years. They are designed to give people the best possible chance of moving into sustainable and fulfilling employment.

Subjects that would be covered would include careers guidance, CV writing, interview techniques, life skills, confidence-building and advice on starting your own business.

The aim is to run four programmes of the work clubs each year, with each one taking place once a week for 13 weeks. Unlike many schemes for the unemployed, these would be open to anyone over school leaving age and not confined to people on out-of-work benefits.

Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for skills and job stimulation, said: “Recent changes in the statutory support available to people who have been unemployed for less than a year mean there is a gap that needs to be filled by local government and community organisations.

“The figures show that in terms of employment Fenland has been hit harder by the recession than other parts of Cambridgeshire and the East of England. We have developed this project to help tackle that problem.

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“Our preliminary proposals have got through the first stage in the Big Lottery’s application process. Now we are putting together our full bid. To reinforce it we want to hear from people who feel they would benefit from this type of support, as well as those who may have other, positive ideas on how the scheme could be improved.

“We’re also keen to involve individuals who would be interested in volunteering to help with the project.”

In developing the scheme FDC is working closely with Jobcentre Plus, Cambridgeshire County Council, the CPL Trust, the Fenland Volunteer Bureau, Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services, the College of West Anglia and other local partners.

If the Big Lottery grants the full �200,000, it would pay for a project manager and all the work clubs for three years. It would also cover people’s childcare costs if they were required, as well as a minibus service to take people to and from the workshops.

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