Over the last week, six Work Programme customers who are being supported by Prospects to find a job worked with volunteers and Meitheal Mara to build a Celtic longboat, called a Currach.
As well as giving jobseekers skills they need to find work, the project promoted the Minehead “Heritage Hub” in partnership with West Somerset Railway to enhance the zone as a visitor arrival and welcoming point for the town and region. The project took place outside the new Information Centre and Minehead Museum at the YMCA Beach Hotel and Café.
All the materials for the Currach have been locally sourced, as they would have been in Celtic times. Exmoor National Park felled and milled a spruce tree and green oak. Dunster Crown Estates coppiced the Hazel for the ribs. Price Western Leather donated the material to cover the hull. Dulux gave bitumen paint. Gliddons donated hardware and tools while Minehead Hire provided lights for evening working.
Meitheal Mara, Gaelic for 'workmen of the sea' is a boatbuilding organisation based in Cork that specialises in projects with community groups. Padraig O Duinnin of Meitheal Mara said "It is exciting to be here building a Currach with Minehead people and seeing the enthusiasm of the participants and the interest of the onlookers, I feel we are rekindling the ancient links between Southern Ireland and the Somerset Coast."
Graham Humphreys, Prospects Operations Manager, said “We know taking part in activities like this helps our customers improve their skills and increase their confidence. Those taking part will be learning and developing valuable skills in team work and communication. These skills are vital for finding and sustaining a job. Our customers have really enjoyed taking part in this activity but more than that they have gained experience of turning up every day and knowing they are contributing to the creation of something. The Currach looks great and all their hard work has paid off. They should be proud.”
Stephen Hooper, Minehead Vision Manager, commented "This project has really captured the towns imagination, the goodwill and support is incredible, everyone has pulled together to help make this happen."
Martin Hodgson, Chief Executive of YMCA South West said "We are very proud to be partners this project, it not only celebrates the YMCA's Christian ethos but also the establishment of the Somerset Coastal Churches and Minehead's long association with the sea. Our young people are gaining so much from being involved.”
The longboat launched at 5.30pm from Minehead Harbour on Sunday 30th March following a blessing ceremony.
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Notes to Editor
The Currach build project was a joint venture project in Maritime Heritage combined with adult learning and pre-employment skills. The project was funded by the Community Learning Partnership (CLP) of Somerset Skills and Learning (part of Somerset County Council) the leading provider of adult learning and apprenticeships in Somerset.
The Sponsoring partners include YMCA Somerset Coast, The National Trust at Dunster, Crown Estate Dunster, Prospects, Jobcentre Plus, J Gliddon and Sons Ltd, Price Weston Leather Co. Ltd and Minehead Hire.
The project was conceived and is delivered by the Minehead Vision Team as part of the Minehead Vision Project developed by the Minehead Vision Group and funded through Seaside Strategy Funds administered by West Somerset Council.
Minehead Vision Team comprises the Vision Manager Stephen Hooper, Dan Cross, an advanced apprentice, combined with partners and volunteers who are tasked to deliver five strands of the Minehead Vision Action Plan. The posts are hosted by Minehead Development Trust.
Minehead Vision Group, which oversees the work and developments, comprises stakeholders from a wide range of local Community Groups and Local Authority representatives who have combined and consulted on actions needed to regenerate Community, Commerce and Culture in Minehead and District. The result is the Minehead Vision Action Plan, currently approaching the end of its first phase of delivery, which sets out priorities and actions for regeneration in Minehead.
Numerous other elements of the Minehead Vision Action Plan also intended to address deprivation and economic issues in Minehead are delivered by the Vision Team with allocations from the Seaside Strategy Funding by West Somerset Council and matched funding from various bodies.
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and training services in the UK and internationally. At the heart of what we do is the drive to improve the life chances, skills and aspirations of everyone we support. Each year we touch the lives of more than a million people through our extensive range of high quality services. The Prospects Group has an annual turnover in excess of £100 million and employs more than 2,000 skilled and professional staff.
Our services include:
- National Careers Service in the community, offering face to face advice on learning and work as prime provider in Greater London, a partner in Careers Yorkshire and the Humber and a major subcontractor in the West Midlands and Bristol
- Work Programme which helps longer-term unemployed people back to work, as prime contractor in the South West and leading subcontractor in London and Bristol
- Targeted support helping NEET and vulnerable young people and those with learning difficulties and disabilities, including Pathway services to care leavers
- Innovative approaches to rehabilitation of adults and young offenders in the community, and provision of the ‘In Custody offer’ of the National Careers Service in all prisons in London, Yorkshire and the Humber
- Ofsted Early Years Inspection Services across the Midlands and North of England
- Youth Contract, support for 16-17 year old NEET young people in London, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber
- Prospects Apprenticeships, training apprentices across the UK
- Academy sponsorship through Prospects Academies Trust
- Education consultancy, academy and school improvement services through Prospects Improve
- Leading Parent Partnership Award - promoting engagement of families in schools
- Educational resources for schools and careers advisers
- Entrepreneurship for young people in Wales
- South Cerney Outdoor Education Centre in Gloucestershire
- Events including regional careers and skills events across the UK such as Skills London, City Walks and award ceremonies
- Business support and networking
- Mutuals development services for public bodies
The Prospects Group includes Gabbitas, independent education consultancy and CfAppointments, specialist recruitment services. We are also the partner in 3BM, an employee-owned Mutual providing support services to the education sector.
020 8315 1023
West Somerset Council Economic Regeneration Officer