A community scheme funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for jobseekers is giving people in Binley and Willenhall the skills to get new and better jobs.
The Connecting Communities programme gives local residents tailored job advice and specialist support in the heart of their own community. In Binley and Willenhall, it is being delivered by employment support company Reed in Partnership.
Maureen Spall, from Willenhall, had been working for six hours a week as a care assistant until she broke her elbow in July. As the time drew nearer for her to return to the job, she decided she would like to start a new career.
She needed enough time and flexibility to run her dressmaking business while being able to earn some money. She had also been researching how to expand her business into making soap.
Maureen joined the Connecting Communities programme for help in identifying her transferable skills, becoming confident in interviews and understanding how taking on a new part-time job would affect her finances.
“I spotted the advert on social media and knew this was exactly what I needed,” she said.
“My adviser, Vikki, was fantastic. We discussed what I had done in my previous jobs and my business in detail. Together we came up with a list of transferable skills, which I used to update my CV.
“Vikki helped me to prepare for common interview questions and practise my answers through Reed’s online portal. We also calculated the impact of working part time on my universal credit claim.”
Maureen is now working 16 hours a week at a home furnishings retailer, where her experience of being able to sell a product shone through in the interview.
“I’m loving the job and I’ve been able to fit running my businesses around the hours – I’m planning to send my first soap products away for testing soon,” she added.
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: “It’s great news that Maureen has been able to get a new, better job as a result of joining the Connecting Communities programme.
“This shows how the WMCA is working to give everyone the chance to benefit from job opportunities in the West Midlands. I wish Maureen every success for the future.”
Vikki Vincent-Squibb, employment adviser at Reed in Partnership, said: “We’re delighted that Maureen is enjoying her new job and combining it with working on both of her businesses. We will continue to support her as needed.”
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.
There are nine programmes in communities across the West Midlands where unemployment is high and pay levels are low. Over the past year, 332 people have gained new jobs thanks to support from Connecting Communities, with 200 of these in the last five months.
The location-based support is aimed at making it easier to engage with local residents and encouraging the communities themselves to use their existing social networks to spread the word about the help available.
To find out more about Connecting Communities in Binley and Willenhall, visit binleywillenhalljobs.co.uk or call 024 7623 7080.