The Hinkley Point C Community Fund has helped a Taunton-based job club continue to provide vital support and advice for unemployed and vulnerable people living in Taunton and the surrounding area since the Coronavirus outbreak.
Work-Wise was awarded an 18-month HPC Community Fund grant from Somerset Community Foundation for £4,833 which enabled the group to buy equipment and pay for an additional three hours of staff time every week, which has been invaluable to help with the development of the charity.
Bettina Walker, Project Manager at Work-Wise (pictured on headline page), said: “Since the lockdown I’ve been keeping in regular contact with our service users over the phone. The club normally offers a range support to those who may find it difficult to get into employment – but especially those who find IT, communications and writing a challenge.
“The only device many of our regular users have is a mobile phone and filling-in complex online forms can be difficult, so we’ve updated their CVs on Indeed (a job search website) which makes it easier for them to apply for jobs online.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic one of the Work-Wise service users has found a job working for Boots, delivering prescriptions to vulnerable members of the community and those who are shielding, and another is volunteering at the Salvation Army, making sandwiches for food parcels for local people in need.
A service user who first attended Work-Wise in the summer of 2018 said: “Work-Wise helped me with constructive suggestions about my CV, gave me advice about job-seeking and – most of all – gave me encouragement when I was becoming quite downhearted and despondent about not having a job. They encouraged me to volunteer one day a week, and from there I found temporary, part-time work at a local hospice, before successfully applying for the full-time post there. It’s such a huge relief to be employed again.”
Work-Wise has also been given additional funding to expanded into Bridgwater: “We’re delighted to have been recently awarded a new, three-year grant from the HPC Community Fund for £39,345 to enable us to provide a weekly Work-Wise session at Westfield United Reformed Church in Bridgwater, once it’s possible to do so.
“In Taunton, we’re talking with the Taunton United Reformed Church to see if we can extend the area we use for the club meetings, from the hall and into the church itself; we’re looking at a new layout so that as soon as we start up again we’ll be operating in a COVID-secure manner.
“In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak there are a lot of new claimants who may need our help in the very near future. We want to make sure we’re there for them.”
Jobseekers in Somerset West and Taunton who need help, support or advice, can contact the Work-Wise Helpline on 01823 325030 or for more information, or visit www.workwise-taunton.org.uk.
The HPC Community Fund is part of a wider £20 million commitment of funding, provided by EDF through Section 106 agreements, for communities that are affected by the development of the new nuclear power station, to promote their social, economic and environmental wellbeing and enhance their quality of life.
More information about grant funding from the HPC Community Fund is available from the Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 or by visiting www.hpcfunds.co.uk.