More than 150 people are a step closer to getting involved in local projects after the first hugely successful Spring Forward event took place in at the Lawns Social Club in Taunton. The visitors, who were mostly people who have been unemployed for a long time, were encouraged to come along to meet local community groups who needed their volunteering skills.
People who are long term unemployed often become isolated from society, and this leads to many long term health conditions. By getting involved in local projects you get out and about in the community, make new friends, learn important skills and become more employable. Not only that, but you can have a good time and have something to look forward to each day.
At Spring Forward 24 local clubs and organisations attended bringing information, work samples, hands on activities and exotic animals. These included Knit and Knatter, Bridgwater College and Kingston Exotics from Bridgwater, Wellington in Bloom, Burnham Search & Rescue, Scope, St John’s Ambulance and Bugfest - who brought a 13 foot long, 4 stone snake.
The Mayor of Taunton, Councillor Marcia Hill, visited and was very impressed with the event and the work Prospects is doing to support people who are long term employed in the town.
Nick, from Bugfest, was delighted with the interest visitors showed in volunteering. He spoke from the heart when he took to the stage at the event and said: “I have Asperger’s, having the chance to talk and meet with so many other people in a similar position to me is great, I’ve told them ‘you need to get involved.’ What Prospects have done today is fantastic, I speak for Bugfest and all the other clubs involved when I say we have really enjoyed the day. Please make sure we are invited to the next one you run.”
One visitor was James, he attends the Work Programme, provided by Prospects for the DWP. James was encouraged to come along and find out more about the different activities he could get involved with that would help him gain the valuable skills employers seek. James commented: “This is great, it really is helping me with confidence coming in to a room with so many people that I do not know, and going up and talking to some of them. It’s something I never thought I could do. Helen, my Prospects adviser, has been a great help and I can not thank her enough for getting me to come along today.”
As well as the 156 people who were helped by attending the event, one person, Polly, who attends Work Programme, gained extra experience. Polly volunteered to help create the event, calling the clubs and organisations to encourage them to get involved and assisting them on the day. Polly built her confidence and self worth by being part of the Prospects team putting the day together. She was so successful and has become so employable one of the clubs has invited her for an interview.
The Spring Forward event was run with the support of the JobCentre Plus. Adam, an employment adviser was pleased with the overall success: “This is fantastic and I never thought this could be put on to such a scale, it could not be better. We have brought some of our customers along this morning and we can not get them out of here they are really enjoying it so much. There is so much going on and something for everyone.”
Spring Forward is not a one-off, many of the clubs will continue to work closely with Prospects to create innovative ways to help support people back into work. Conquest Equestrian, who support disabled people in the community through horse riding and equine activities are already considering running a project that will benefit not only people who are unemployed, but their own staff and customers.
Similar events are planned for the future, but if anyone would like to get involved in local community projects they can contact Prospects, who is happy to let them know which clubs and organisations to contact about volunteering in Somerset. You do not have to be a Prospects Work Programme customer to get in touch. Call Prospects on 01823 353616.
Prospects delivers the Work Programme on behalf of the DWP across the South West, supporting people who are long term unemployed back into meaningful work. Visit http://www.gettingthesouthwestworking.co.uk for more information.
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Notes to Editor
Attached images taken at the Spring Forward event, held on 1 March, 2016 at the Lawns Social Club.
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and skills 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 support more than 500,000 young people and adults.
Prospects is the 13th largest employee owned company in the UK and is in the National Centre for Diversity 100 index. Our work supports people from early years childcare into retirement, Prospects is the largest employer of careers advisers in the country.
Alona de Havilland
07790 803882 or 01823 362804