A scheme to send young up the wall

YOUNG adults who enjoy working outdoors can give a practical trade a go under a new scheme.

Groundwork North East’s Northumberland team and youth charity The Prince’s Trust are offering a free three-week training course to help get unemployed people into work or further education.

The Get into Dry Stone Walling programme will give students practical experience of working on the purpose-built structures, which are constructed from stones without any mortar to bind them together, at Harnham near Ponteland and Chatton near Wooler to achieve a Lantra Level One in the subject.

Sessions will be led by professional trainer Donald Gunn and qualified dry stone waller Jane Austin-Walker, who works for Groundwork in Northumberland. Travel costs and lunches are covered.

At the end of the course there will also be an employability skills day, which will provide advice on making applications, cover letter writing and interview skills.

Lisa Shearer, Programme Co-ordinator for Northumberland, said: “This subject has been identified as a skills gap area in the county and students on the course will learn different techniques for the different types of walls you can build with stone.

“They will receive support from Groundwork staff and progression mentors from The Prince’s Trust and if some of the people don’t want to continue with dry stone walling, we can help them find something else to study.

“Hopefully this course will be the first of many in a range of subjects. We’re aiming to develop a long-term relationship with the charity as we have expertise in many practical subjects.”

Other volunteering opportunities provided by Groundwork’s Northumberland team include wood working, raised beds, habitat improvement and creation and boardwalk construction. Its work in the community includes schemes with elderly people and those with mental health problems.

There is a taster day for the course on Monday at the organisation’s county office in Pegswood. Sessions will run from March 26 to April 13.

For more information telephone 01670 514876 or email Lisa.Shearer@ground work.org.uk