BRISTOL SOUTH MP Karin Smyth marked Employability Day 2018 on Friday 29 June by visiting a service in her constituency that supports local unemployed people to find work. She called in to the Employment Plus service which The Salvation Army runs from its Bristol Bedminster church and community hall on Dean Lane.
Ms Smyth met staff who run the service as well as people from the area who are supported by Employment Plus, which is open from 9.00am to 4.00pm on weekdays.
"It was good to see The Salvation Army’s work in Bedminster in my constituency. I’ve visited before, and I know their strong commitment to improving the lives of local people. I was pleased to see that their efforts are continuing, especially in light of increasingly difficult circumstances for many of the people in south Bristol”, said Karin Smyth MP.
During her conversation with staff, the MP was told that national and local government needs to prioritise specialist employment programmes that give unemployed people the right support at the time they need it. She also heard concerns that Universal Credit is affecting many people’s abilities to move into employment and be financially independent and that more support is needed for people who want to work but can’t.
Sarah Crowther, The Salvation Army’s local Regional Manager for Employment Plus, said: “We are very pleased Ms Smyth took the time to come and see the vital work that’s done here at Bristol Bedminster to support people with a variety of complex needs on their journey towards finding work.
“We are especially pleased she was able to speak with our clients, many of whom have now found work despite battling with physical and mental health issues. Ms Smyth was able to hear first-hand the challenges they have faced.
“Following the recent changes in government funding of employment services, the Work & Health Programme is receiving 80 per cent less funding than its predecessor, The Work Programme. We are concerned more people in the Bristol Bedminster area will fall through the gaps in the system.
“We hope that after today’s visit, Ms Smyth understands why government needs to prioritise specialist employment programmes and work with organisations such as The Salvation Army that strive to empower people to access the right support at the right time.”
Employment Plus offers a welcoming and positive environment in Bristol Bedminster for people needing support in their search for work and staff help clients to update their CVs, apply for jobs and prepare for interviews.
People who are on the government’s Work Programme are sent to the Employment Plus service at Bristol Bedminster by the local Job Centre. The Employment Plus service has recently been awarded a local government grant to help people find employment whose circumstances make it harder for them to find work – such as mental health issues or homelessness.
Kaylee is an Employment Development Coordinator for Employment Plus. Asked about her job, she said: “Working for Employment Plus is brilliant – I love it and it’s everything I wanted to do. It’s a job where you genuinely help people to achieve something – it’s not ‘ticking boxes’ – you are genuinely helping people.
“Since I’ve been working here, I’ve got qualifications in mental health, safeguarding, first aid, mental health first aid & the benefits system as a whole, and with my background as a single mum, I know how difficult it is to have children and to be working full-time. The training we get here is fantastic and in a few weeks we’re going to do a debt advisor qualification.”