Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Visits Church Initiative Providing Help To Get People Back To Work

published on 7 Apr 2014

The Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions found a friendly welcome at a Salvation Army church initiative which helps people in Bedminster find work.

Rachel Reeves MP met with people from the Employment Plus hub based at Bristol Bedminster corps (church) on Monday, April 7. They told her how the corps runs the work programme at the church in Dean Lane, Bristol, offering job seekers work placements, access to job searches, personalised support and e-learning opportunities.

The work programme was launched by the Government in 2011, and is specifically designed for long-term unemployed job seekers. Through the work programme scheme the Army is able to empower participants to overcome some of their barriers to work and to take positive steps towards identifying and achieving their goals in life.

Lieutenant Chris Baker, corps officer (church leader) at Bristol Bedminster corps (church), said that the church got involved in Employment Plus because they wanted to help people struggling in their community. She said: “When people gain employment their lives are transformed, as are the lives of their families. Unemployment is a key cause of poverty and social exclusion and we wanted to be there for people in our own community by providing compassionate support and a listening ear, as well as practical help.

“The Salvation Army has been helping those furthest from the labour market for more than 100 years and as a church and charity are dedicated to caring for those who are vulnerable or in  need. This is the same today so Employment Plus was a great opportunity.”

Clive Sandrey, who helps people find work at Employment Plus in Bedminster, said: “We aim to be friendly and welcoming to anyone who comes to us needing help finding work. We seek to reduce the negative effects of unemployment on people’s lives, focusing on personal as well as professional development goals, tailored to the individual.”

The Salvation Army in Bedminster works with people with a variety of needs and social circumstances and aims to reduce the negative effects of employment on people’s lives by focusing on personal as well as professional development goals. E-learning courses are offered alongside employability courses. The church and charity works with local businesses, training providers, and employment agencies.

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, said: “I am very keen to learn more about the impressive Employment Plus scheme. Visiting Bristol was a great chance to meet Employment Plus staff and people using their services. Giving unemployed people opportunities to learn new skills and to find work is absolutely essential. It’s clear that programmes like Employment Plus are transforming people’s lives and helping to build stronger communities.”

In addition to the Employment Plus scheme, Bristol Bedminster corps has a food bank, a weekly Monday morning breakfast for those in need, as well as a reasonably-priced charity shop  in East Street. This Easter holiday the church is running a three-day holiday club for the children of people who use the Employment Plus service as well as those in the local community. The club runs from April 15-April 17, 10am -1pm and is for children aged 7-12.