Bridge Northumberland employment programme celebrates successes
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Those attending included programme workers, people who had benefited and those, such as DWP staff, healthcare professionals and voluntary sector workers, who recommend people to take part in it.
Since Bridge Northumberland took its first participants in early 2017, 1,879 people have taken part with 1,134 supported in bridging the gap to work, skills or training.
An evaluation report in November 2021 showed the project had delivered a productivity boost worth £5.4m to the region’s economy and a net saving of £2m to the taxpayer.
Keynote speaker Steph Edusei, chief executive of St Oswald’s Hospice, said: “People repeatedly applying for jobs can fall into a cycle of feeling they just aren’t good enough, damaging their self-esteem in a vicious circle that becomes a major barrier to getting work.
"I know from my own experience as an employer that volunteering breaks down those barriers and volunteers gain new confidence.
"Bridge Northumberland’s approach of providing supported volunteering has been crucial to the successes of its participants moving into work and training.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, said: “It was a pleasure to attend the Bridge Northumberland celebration event and speak to some of the people they have helped into employment over the years.”
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan added: “It was wonderful to catch up with the team and meet those who have benefited from the opportunities Bridge offers.”
Northumberland CVA chief executive, Caroline Rogan, Bridge partner lead, said: "Very few people really want to be out of work and if it was just a matter of learning how to write a cv and search the internet the problem would have been cracked long since. Unfortunately, one size doesn’t fit all and there are often multiple barriers to be overcome.
“Bridge has also been able to reach people where they are in our very rural county. We have done this by using community organisations on the ground, who know their patch and the communities they serve.”