Steve Webb at Bristol Bedminster Salvation Army (left to right: Government Relations Manager Interserve Daniel Griffiths, Lieutenant Christine Baker, Nick Read, Steve Webb, Rehab Jobfit Contract Manager Clive Sandrey)
The Minister of State for pensions found a friendly welcome at a Salvation Army church initiative which helps people in Bedminster find work.
Steve Webb MP met with people from the Employment Plus hub based at Bristol Bedminster church on Thursday, May 29.
They explained how the scheme at the church in Dean Lane, Bristol, offers job seekers work placements, access to job searches, personalised support and e-learning opportunities.
Lieutenant Chris Baker, corps officer (church leader) at Bristol Bedminster church, said that the church got involved in Employment Plus because they wanted to help people struggling in their community. She said: “It isn’t just the people who gain employment whose lives are transformed – it’s their families’ lives too. As a church we wanted to be there for people in our community – providing a listening ear, practical help as well as compassionate support. Unemployment is a real cause of social exclusion and poverty and as a charity we are dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need.”
The work programme was launched by the Government in 2011, and is specifically designed for long-term unemployed job seekers. Through the work programme scheme the Army is able to empower participants to overcome some of their barriers to work and to take positive steps towards identifying and achieving their goals in life.
Clive Sandrey, who helps people find work at Employment Plus in Bedminster, said: “We tailor the help we offer to the individual and so focus on their personal goals as well as their professional ones. Anyone who comes to us needing help to find work will find a friendly welcome so no one should be afraid to come to us – we won’t judge you – whatever your background or circumstances.”
The Salvation Army in Bedminster works with people with a variety of needs and social circumstances and aims to reduce the negative effects of employment on people’s lives by focusing on personal as well as professional development goals. E-learning courses are offered alongside employability courses. The church and charity works with local businesses, training providers, and employment agencies.
Steve Webb meets volunteers (left to right: church leader Lieutenant Christine Baker, Steve Webb MP, Employment Plus Operations Manager Nick Read and, seated, Job Life Coach Lee Durbin)
Steve Webb MP said: “I have really enjoyed seeing how the Employment Plus scheme at The Salvation Army in Bedminster is transforming people’s lives and helping to build stronger communities. Visiting Bristol has been a great opportunity to meet the people who use the services here as well as the staff members. Unemployed people need opportunities to find work and learn new skills and it is clear that the Work Programme is enabling people to do that.
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, also visited the project in April.
In addition to the Employment Plus scheme, Bristol Bedminster Corps has a food bank, a weekly Monday morning breakfast for those in need, as well as a reasonably-priced charity shop in East Street.