[Jim Sheridan with Major David Wing, Jim Reid and Colin McGilvray]
The Salvation Army in Erskine welcomed Jim Sheridan MP to see first hand the work of its thriving jobs club.
Mr Sheridan, who from today will stand as a candidate for Paisley and Renfrewshire North in May's General Election, met members of the church and charity's Employment Plus Local initiative on Friday.
The jobs club on Kilpatrick Drive was the first of its kind in Scotland when it was launched in February 2013. Since then two thirds of its members have gone on to find work or training in a range of fields.
Now Jim Reid and Colin McGilvray, who run the club, are hoping to turn their attention to school-leavers. Club founder Jim has contacted Park Mains High School to offer their services.
Retired training consultant Jim, who has over 40 years’ experience, believes more needs to be done to help pupils that leave school without job or further education prospects.
Jim Reid said: "Often we see young people spending the summer with friends who are already going to college, university or into a job. They don't realise the urgency in their own situation.
“I have been speaking to Park Mains High School and I plan to write to Trinity High School because many young people from Erskine go there as well.
"We don’t want to take anything away from the schools because they do a fantastic job. But we feel we have a lot to offer pupils who maybe don’t have many prospects for whatever reason. We can help them through a range of short courses. Even something like a first aid certificate can make young people more marketable to employers.
"We also have a 14-page pack that gives advice on applying for work, writing CVs and making the most of job interviews.
[Jim Sheridan with jobs club members William Mcginty, Alan Johns and Margaret Smith]
"Young people, because they are so technologically savvy, are easy to work with. For many of our old members, just learning how to use a computer takes up a lot of time. But young people are already whizzes on a computer so we can get a lot more done with them.
“Hopefully we can have the same success with young people that we have had with older members of community.”
Mr Sheridan said: “I’m continually impressed by the work of The Salvation Army in Erskine. Anything that boosts the prospects of our young people is worth getting behind. This new idea is superb and I look forward to seeing the results of team’s work with local school-leavers.”
Jobs club member Margaret Smith, from Erskine, had been working as a bus driver until she was forced to quit due to a work-related injury. She admitted it left her feeling rock bottom and scared to apply for work.
But Margaret was referred to the jobs club by her local Jobcentre and now, thanks to the support from The Salvation Army, has her life back on track.
She said: “I can’t speak highly enough of Jim Reid, Colin and everyone at The Salvation Army. When I first came along I was a sceptical of how it could help me. But it has been amazing. I now have the confidence to apply for jobs I’d never have even dreamed of looking at. And I have even been given a trial work placement at a local garden.
“I think the reason the club is so successful is that it is tailored to each member. Some people need more support than others. For example, I wasn’t good on computers at first but Jim Reid and Colin really helped with that.
“We have also formed a good little group and are all friends who help each other out. If I see a job someone else in the club might be suited for, I’ll tell them.”
Major David Wing, who along with wife Miriam leads the Salvation Army church (corps) in Erskine, said: “Jim Reid is doing a great job, offering compassionate support, a listening ear and practical help.
“We’re delighted to support his ideas to help local school-leavers. He has a vast amount of knowledge to pass on and I’m sure the young people would benefit greatly from it.”
For a list of other candidates standing to represent Paisley and Renfrewshire North in May's General Election, visit here