New start for Chris – thanks to WMCA-funded scheme to get people back into work

A Coventry man is back in the workplace after being unemployed for nearly six years – thanks to a scheme funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Chris McKenna, aged 47, from Willenhall, left school with no qualifications and had previously done contract work in warehouses and kitchens.

His job search was also made more difficult because he had major heart surgery three years ago, after having two heart attacks.

New start for Chris – thanks to WMCA-funded scheme to get people back into work

Chris McKenna

Chris joined the Connecting Communities programme, which is funded by the WMCA and delivered in Binley and Willenhall by training company Reed in Partnership, on a part-time course last year.

Connecting Communities gives long-term job seekers tailored advice and specialist support in the heart of their own community.

Chris said: “The support from the trainers at Reed in Partnership included helping me with job applications and advising me on interview techniques.

“As a result of this, I’ve got a new part-time job as a caretaker at Hagard Community Centre in Willenhall.

“The job’s going really well – I was born and grew up in the community and I’m enjoying meeting lots of people.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I’d like to congratulate Chris on his new job. It’s great to see how the WMCA is helping local people gain the skills they need to get back into work.”

Keegan Hall, Employment Adviser - Work Routes at Reed in Partnership, said: “We are delighted that Chris has got a new job at Hagard Community Centre through Connecting Communities. We are continuing to work with him as he looks to move towards full-time work.”

Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: “There are lots of new jobs being created in the West Midlands, but some people are still missing out. So it’s fantastic news that Chris has been able to benefit from the Connecting Communities programme.”

Connecting Communities is funded by the WMCA using a grant from the Department for Work and Pensions, as part of the wider transfer of powers and funding from Whitehall to the West Midlands.

Chris’s return to work is one of the examples the WMCA is highlighting during National Inclusion Week (23-29 September), to show how the WMCA is making a difference in the region.