Published March 14, 2019 at 16:50
A pioneering Rossendale project that has helped 25 people back into work could become a blueprint for a Lancashire-wide scheme.
Plans are now being drawn up that could see Rossendale Works being replicated in other boroughs.
Employability Officer Paul Becouarn is employed by Active Lancashire and delivers the project on behalf of Rossendale Council.
“After just one year we now have 24 people in employment, 80 clients are engaged in activities, 20 people are now actively volunteering and 22 have been referred into sports with an external organisation.
“I didn’t expect this level of success. I had no idea how it was going to take off or how many relationships were going to be forged with local employers.”
Rossendale Council has confirmed it is continuing the project and Paul is now to become the manager. He already has volunteers who assist with delivery and hopes in the future to be taking on staff.
Describing Rossendale Works as ‘an absolutely brilliant project’, Leader of Rossendale Council Councillor Alyson Barnes said:
“What we are doing it helping people to get back on their feet and into work, training or sports.
“When someone has been unemployed for a period of time getting back into work is not as simple or straightforward as they would want it to be.
“I am really pleased to see that Rossendale Council is leading the way and this will be a project that others will emulate.”
“The biggest reward for me is seeing individuals starting to provide for their families. This project brings families together and rebuilds lives from deprivation and hard times to job satisfaction. It is incredible.”
A number of partner agencies and clients who have benefited were invited to a celebration at the new Alpine Bistro at The Hill, the home of Ski Rossendale.
Active Lancashire Chief Executive Adrian Leather explained that the Rossendale scheme is being evaluated and the next step would be to launch it in East Lancashire.
“We want to get the support of the economic development teams across East Lancashire and we want these projects feed into the future industrial strategies for Lancashire and across the Northern Powerhouse.
“The impact that Paul is making has been impressive. He has such energy and commitment to help people who have fallen by the wayside; Paul needs the recognition and every area needs a Paul.”
The scheme works closely with the Jobcentre and Paul has had 190 referrals from the Department of Work and Pensions.
Partnership Manager from the DWP Frances Starkie said:
“We are looking to have a grants funded partnership through our flexible support fund to further develop what is currently in place and to build on the success of the last 12 months.”
She said as well as getting people off benefits and back into work, the project also boosted self confidence and self esteem.