Housing Minister backs new employment programme

Scotland’s Housing and Communities Minister Kevin Stewart came face to face in Glasgow with unemployed people being supported to get 'work ready'.

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Housing Minister Kevin Stewart backs new Environmental Roots programme

Housing Minister backs new employment programme

The innovative Environmental Roots programme, created and run by the Wheatley Foundation, is part funded by a £250,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Empowering Communities fund.

The programme provides unemployed people in Wheatley communities with training, support and work experience to help them secure - and retain - environmental work with one of the UK’s leading housing, care and property-management groups.

Twenty six people have completed the four-week course to date – and 18 have gone on to take up Modern Apprenticeships with Wheatley. Environmental Roots covers practical and operational training with health and safety and first aid, builds confidence and teaches fundamental skills such as time-keeping, good attendance and punctuality.

Foundation Chairman Sir Harry Burns said: “The hard reality is that too many people across Scotland have had little or no experience of paid employment. Even when they do find job or training opportunities, a significant number fail to last the course because they simply are not able to cope within a working environment.

“This innovative pre-employability course is helping people, young and older, to develop new skills and confidence, giving them a much better chance of finding and sustaining employment.”

Mr Stewart spoke to several Wheatley tenants who have completed the course when he visited the Group’s huge environmental depot in Glasgow’s South Side, and went on to meet a dozen people who are taking it now.

The Housing Minister said: “I’m really pleased to be able to see first-hand the excellent work Wheatley Group is doing through projects like Environmental Roots. Projects like this are invaluable in providing pathways into employment for people of all ages.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership this year, providing a further £250,000, which is matched by Wheatley, through the Empowering Communities Fund, allowing them to build on their good work.”

Among those to meet the Minister was Andrew Davidson, 25, who was one of the first to complete the course and has gone on to become a Changing Lives trainee with GHA, the award-winning Wheatley subsidiary that is Scotland’s largest social landlord.

He had been unemployed since he was 19 and struggled to secure a job due to a criminal record.

Andrew said: “This course changed my life and has opened so many doors. For years, I found it really hard to get a job. I fell in with a bad crowd and served time in prison.

“A lot of people just wouldn’t touch me, but Wheatley has given me a chance and I’m making the most of it. Having a job has made me more responsible. My life is stable and I’m doing something I want to do. It means I can buy things for my two-year-old daughter and give her the things she wants.”

John Anderson, 60, lost his job after injuring a shoulder. “I was out of work for six months and desperate to find a new job,” he explained. “I was over the moon when I got a place on the course and even happier when I got a Changing Lives post with GHA.”

John added: “It means a lot to be in work, both physically and mentally. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off me. The work’s very satisfying. It’s a good feeling when people tell you they’re happy with the job you’ve done, whether that’s cutting the grass or just tidying up the place around their homes.”

Pictured above: Housing Minister Kevin Stewart with Andrew Davidson, Paul Haggerty, John Anderson and Wheatley Foundation Board member, Jean Albert Nietcho.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018