As part of Rural Housing Week, we explain how our Job Clubs go beyond the search for employment by opening the door to a network of support for our rural communities.
Widely reported national statistics put the UK’s unemployment at a 44-year low, but the reality for rural communities presents a more complicated picture. Many fall into cycles of unemployment, exacerbated by a lack of access to computers and the computer skills required to navigate today’s jobs market. Our unique relationship with our customers and long-term commitment to our communities lead to the development of Job Club.
The first Job Club was set up over 6 years ago at Hinton Community Centre, Hereford, offering access to the internet and expert advice in a supportive environment – the ideal place to begin your job search. Fast-forward to 2019 and Job Club has built on its success and popularity by expanding to more locations, including two additional clubs in Hereford, and clubs in Ross-on-Wye and Ludlow (Shropshire).
One of the primary offerings at Job Club is access to computers and the internet, alongside the training to make these truly useful tools. Job Club attendees can get help developing the IT skills vital to navigating today’s jobs market: creating their own email address, using recruitment websites to search for jobs, using the DWP’s Universal Jobmatch service, and writing their CV. Developing these skills can also help customers avoid sanctions from the DWP.
Of course, lack of computer skills or access to the internet is often only one part of the unemployment puzzle. Our Job Club Coordinators identify what assistance Job Club attendees require to overcome their personal barriers to employment. Many require additional help with literacy and numeracy skills, low self-esteem or understanding the level of presentation needed at a job interview.
Expert advice is given on financial management and understanding the social housing and benefits system, helping to alleviate these stresses. Job Coordinators can also refer clients to other agencies that may be able to help with mental health and drug/alcohol dependency issues, which can also prevent someone from progressing into volunteering or employment.
Rosie Blanchard, Job Club Coordinator, has worked at Job Club from the very start and has played a key role in its expansion. Rosie’s connections to the local jobs market are invaluable to Job Club, directly connecting local employers with clients looking for work. She said:
“It’s fantastic to see Job Club go from strength to strength, helping more communities overcome difficulties getting into employment or voluntary work. Job Coordinators use our links to and knowledge of the local employment market to help get people to get back into work or start a fulfilling voluntary position. Partnering with local community-based organisations, such as IT tutors from The Skills Mill, or the Shaw Trust, allow us to offer more wide-ranging support.”
“It’s important to remember that often the biggest benefit to our clients can be the mutual support of other local people also looking for work – come and join us for a cuppa and find out what we can do for you!”