Boost for jobseekers with gardening scheme as unemployment rates released

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Job seekers in Ely are being encouraged to sign up for a gardening project that aims to improve their chances of finding work.

Helping Hands Gardening Programme, part-funded by Sanctuary Housing and managed by Voluntary and Community Action East Cambridgeshire (VCAEC), will support applicants with free training and valuable work experience that can make them more employable.

Applicants should be willing to volunteer for at least one a day a week to take part in the scheme, which runs until March next year. The scheme is also open to people who are employed but have time to volunteer and want to develop new work skills.

They will be taught key aspects needed to work in the gardening services industry including maintaining and clearing gardens and green spaces.

Mark Fretwell gardening with Helping Hands
Mark Fretwell gardening with Helping Hands

Latest employment figures released today from the Office for National Statistics show the East of England had the lowest unemployment rate in the UK at 3.2 per cent, for the three months ending July 2016, with a slight year-on-year increase in the number of people working in the region.

Despite the positive trend, there were still 46,900 people on the claimant count for Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit, demonstrating the continued need for training and employment projects to support local people.

This Helping Hands programme is part-funded by a £4,000 grant from Sanctuary’s Grand Ideas Fund, which supports projects that benefit Sanctuary residents and their communities.

Simon Rudkin, area housing manager for Sanctuary in Ely, commented: “As part of our commitment to help people into work, we are proud to support projects like Helping Hands which provides the perfect platform for residents to develop skills and access training opportunities which will support them to enter into, and sustain, employment.”

Granville Hawkes, from Voluntary and Community Action East Cambridgeshire, which has won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, said: “We are delighted to get funding for this programme to enable more people to access training. Hopefully, it will open doors for them to find work in the future.”

Anyone interested in the gardening volunteer programme can apply through the www.do-it.org website or call Granville Hawkes on 01353 666166.