This facility was run until last year by the eVOLution organisation, which has since ceased operating. The challenge of continuing this much-needed service was identified by Churches Together in Darlington and soon Northgate URC recognised that this was a community service we should endeavour to take on.
Subsequently, Northgate was able to agree to host a Work Club and secured the services of the voluntary leader from the eVOLution Job Club - Graham Irving.
Graham was able to bring a wealth of experience to enable us to know exactly what was needed in administrative, IT and volunteer terms.
Following an appeal to church members, start-up funds were donated to completely cover all the necessary paper systems and storage, 5 laptop computers, a printer and software.
Recently we have been donated a further, matching, laptop, and this, together with the pool of volunteers who have come forward from both the church and elsewhere enables us to offer help to 6 client simultaneously on a laptop and several more who have not reached the stage of needing a laptop. As many as 20 clients may come in on a given day and all of these will either be helped to progress their job-seeking or given a letter to take to JobCentre Plus, indicating why we have been unable to help on that day.
We offer help with:
- Creating an email address (essential before step 2)
- Creating a Universal Jobmatch account;
- Creating an effective CV;
- Creating covering letters;
- Applying for jobs both online and on paper.
Since opening on 1st October, 2015, we have had 120 clients through our hands, amounting to over 400 separate visits and are delighted to report successes in terms of clients having found jobs.
However, the greatest success is in making clients independent of help and able to pursue their ongoing job search at home: many clients come with little or no basic IT skills and almost all employers expect applicants to fill-in online forms to get into their system, whatever the nature of the job. This independence, together with a growing self-confidence is what we aim to build.
We had a slow start in 2015, but in January 2016; when some newspaper and local radio recognition helped us gain momentum, numbers rose.
Early in the year we invited the management and advisers from the 'Jobcentre Plus' to visit and learn more about the activities we offer. They were impressed and we were soon getting large numbers of referrals, helping people in the local community to gain employment. The Northgate Work Club has established a good working relationship with the Job Centre and we anticipate even more improvements in the near future.