Putting family first

UNEMPLOYED folk in some of Wigan’s most deprived areas have been targeted by a scheme to help them into work or training.

Pilot project Families First invited dozens of residents struggling to find work to an event at Westfield Community School, in Montrose Avenue, Pemberton.

The joint initiative with Westfield Children’s Centre and Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust (ALWPCT) targeted people from the Pemberton, Marsh Green and Norley Hall areas, which have some of the borough’s highest rates of employment.

Outreach advisor Kathryn Johnson said: “We’re approaching our first anniversary and this is our fourth event in the area to assist the local community to find employment and training.

“There is a combination of 20 employers, training providers and voluntary or charity organisations offering advice and guidance.

“In the first half and hour we had already seen 80 people who were looking for help with their job search or seeking career advice. There were sessions from the army, ProCo, health trainers and the Learning Development Company (LDC).”

Latest figures from Wigan Council reveal 17 per cent of the borough’s working age population were receiving out of work benefits at the end of 2010/11 – with as much as 34 per cent in the worst performing neighbourhoods.

However, council bosses say the trend could be reversing after Wigan was the only local authority in Greater Manchester to see the number of people claiming job seekers’ allowance fall during April.

Families First was founded last September to help people, living within the postcodes WN9 5 or WN9 0, into work by offering a range of free services. So far, it has helped almost 200 people find employment.

The project provides job matching advice with information about new vacancies, flexible appointments for interviews, and guidance on overcoming problems in finding work, from debt advice to housing issues or even producing a CV.

A team of advisors are available for interviews at:

Pemberton Area Housing Office, Ridyard Street, Worsley Hall, Pemberton;

Lamberhead Green Children’s Centre, Kershaw Street, Pemberton;

Marsh Green Life Centre, Harrow Road, Marsh Green;

Westfield Children’s Centre, Montrose Avenue, Wigan.

For more information or to book an interview, call 758167.