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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Millom service helps people to develop skills

DEDICATED volunteers at Millom Network Centre are providing free services to get people back to work and developing vital skills. Reporter JONATHAN HUMPHRIES talks to two men who benefited from the service

WHEN a 57-year-old butcher was told he was being made redundant on Christmas Eve, his job prospects looked bleak.

Peter Samson, of Palmers Lane, had worked at a butchers for 11 years and was unprepared for the challenges of looking for a new job.

That was two-and-a-half years ago, but now Peter has renewed confidence after the intervention of Millom Network Centre’s Work Club – a free service helping people find employment and develop vital skills.

He said: “We had been supplying meat to the hotels but the recession bit and the tourists stopped coming. Our boss got ill and had to close up.

“I was desolate. The weeks after I lost my job were black. Up until I joined the club, I had never so much as turned on a computer.

I had never needed to in my job.”

Peter, who has lived in Millom all his life, heard about the club at the job centre, also based at the network centre, and came down to try to improve his skills.

He said: “At first I was very apprehensive. I was a stranger in a strange land.”

After extensive training in IT, help preparing CVs and advice on interviews, Peter says his employment prospects have soared.

Education and training co-ordinator Carol Pugh said: “Since the work club started I’ve seen people grow in confidence, and over 30 have moved into employment. It has been great sharing their success stories.”

Peter said: “I have had six interviews and I have made the final four in some of them. I’m so much more confident after this coaching.

“They help you to think differently. Like I felt I had really strong references, and one of the volunteers, Archie Workman, came down and asked me if I had been sending them with my CV.

“I just thought you should put ‘references available’, but he said: ‘No, if they’re good include them’.

“It’s not just the volunteers either; we all back each other up. If I find something one of the others can do I shout up.”

The network centre provides a range of education and advice – no matter how great the educational needs of individuals are.

Alan Chelton, 54, had difficulty reading or writing when he was referred to the network centre in 2009.

The dad-of-three had been able to hide his illiteracy for years – even while working at Vickers shipyard in Barrow and as a prison officer at HMP Haverigg.

He said: “There must be other people out there in the same boat I was, and I want to tell them to come down to the network centre and take that first step.”

Now Alan has completed an adult literacy core curriculum programme, under the one-to-one tutelage of volunteer and former St James’ Catholic Primary School headteacher Maureen Hughes.

For more information on the work club and training and education opportunities available call network centre manager Paul or Carol on 01229 719650.

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