Funding boost for job skills and employability service

From left, Isos Housing community engagement officer Mary Ormston presents the cheque to Northumberland Community Enterprise Ltd director Brooke Burgess, iLearn Centre support workers Christine Johnson and Paula Hately and service user Elsie Pringle.
From left, Isos Housing community engagement officer Mary Ormston presents the cheque to Northumberland Community Enterprise Ltd director Brooke Burgess, iLearn Centre support workers Christine Johnson and Paula Hately and service user Elsie Pringle.

After getting off to a good start, an employability and job skills service in Morpeth has received a major grant.

Since opening its doors last year, the iLearn Centre at Stobhill has been helping to tackle unemployment and digital and social exclusion among some of the local population through a range of community-based learning programmes.

It has helped 19 people find work and the £15,012 funding from Isos Housing will support its programmes and courses.

Sitting at the heart of an Isos estate on Shields Road, iLearn was launched as a partnership between the housing provider, the Northern Learning Trust and Northumberland Community Enterprise Ltd (NCEL).

Prior to opening, the former shop unit was completely refurbished by Isos and many of its private sector partners.

They stepped in to provide thousands of pounds worth of building tools and materials, decorating equipment, paint and volunteers to carry out the work.

The facility provides accredited training in ICT and industry specific courses, as well as employability support – helping local residents with job applications, interview techniques and confidence building.

It also runs a volunteer training programme, enabling volunteers to provide peer support for residents who use iLearn’s IT equipment to access Universal Jobmatch, online learning modules and money-saving websites.

Isos Housing community engagement officer Mary Ormston said: “Since it was launched last November, the iLearn Centre has built strong links with the local community. It has supported residents and our tenants in overcoming some of the barriers they face getting in to work.

“This vital support has translated into 19 people – nine of them Isos tenants – gaining jobs, which is a fantastic result for such a young service.”