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North East jobseekers given a New Start

An employability programme is tackling unemployment rates head on, having supported 66 local job seekers into career starter roles.

New Start, a paid placement programme for people aged 25 and over, is working with local employers to offer job seekers five-month opportunities, opening doors for candidates who were previously struggling to find work.

The programme is a partnership between housing providers in the North of Tyne, Karbon Homes, Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), North Tyneside Council, Northumberland County Council, Changing Lives and Bernicia, and roles were open to customers living in their homes.

The programme aims to establish a new employment framework which enables more people to achieve their career aspirations. With no prior experience needed and ongoing support from an employment advisor, the programme has enabled applicants to explore roles within a wide range of industries, including engineering, hospitality, construction, law and teaching.

Anna, 37, from Newcastle, had been out of work for almost two and a half years after being made redundant during the pandemic.

She was nervous about applying and interviewing for jobs but the New Start recruitment team were able to help give her the confidence and support she needed.

She said: “I had support throughout the entire process, including doing a mock interview which took a lot of the pressure off.

“The recruitment process was really fast which made it less intimidating. I applied for the job and was invited for an interview within days.

“I then got a phone call the day after the interview to say I had been successful so there was no waiting around which was really good.”

Alex, a Karbon Homes resident, has faced a lot of challenges in work due to having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

New Start enabled him to get a role in retail at video game lounge Ctrl: Pad, where his active personality has been embraced.

He said: “I’ve been really encouraged by the management team.

“The energy I give off really helps the customers feel more welcome. It’s overwhelming. I’ve finally got somewhere I’m happy to work in.”

Local businesses who have taken on New Start applicants have been able to gain the benefits of the scheme as well.

Sam Storey, who runs Belle & Herbs Farm with his business partner Pan Phyu Phyu Hmwe, said: “We want to grow the business so we can produce more but we want to do it in an ethical way.

“By signing up to the New Start programme, we’re able to give paid work placements to people over 25, who are looking for either their first job or a chance, to change direction.

“It’s a win-win situation.

“They gain some great work experience and skills and we get some great help.”

The New Start programme is funded by the Government’s Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), through the UK Community Renewal Fund with the North of Tyne Combined Authority as lead authority.

It is one element of a wider, five-month employability project delivered by the providers, which includes a Foundational Economy study in North Shields, Blyth and Byker, aimed at identifying the barriers to employability in those communities, and a feasibility study, to explore the idea of a shared placement model of employment for North East SMEs.

Charlotte Carpenter, Karbon Homes’ director of growth and business development, added: “We are thrilled New Start has helped so many local people to find new opportunities and take those important next steps on their career journey.

“This is an exciting start to a project that will help shape the future of employment in the region and make an important contribution to ensuring individuals have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

“Projects such as this have a really important role to play in helping to level up disparities within and between regions.”