Somerset Stories: Work-Wise

Bettina Walker, Project Manager at Work-Wise in Taunton, told us about the vital support and advice they provide to job seekers.

Work-Wise is a job club based in Taunton. It is run by a manager with support from dedicated job seeker mentors, all of whom are volunteers. The project provides vital support for unemployed people living in Taunton, the west of Somerset, and the surrounding areas, who may find it difficult to get into employment. The group offers a range of support, including writing and improving CVs, help with online job searches, preparation for job interviews, and referrals to other employment services and agencies such as Mind in Somerset and Citizens Advice.

The HPC Community Fund’s small grants programme awarded Work-Wise £4,833 in March 2018 to support a range of activities, including funding Project Manager, Bettina Walker, to work an additional three hours every week. She explained: “Because of the extra support we’ve received we’ve been able to spend more time working closely with a number of organisations like Positive People, Citizen’s Advice, Mind in Somerset, Taunton Job Centre and Engage West Somerset Volunteer Centre.

“We’re able to offer additional support to those who find IT, communications and writing a challenge. The support we offer can reduce some of the stress and anxiety that jobseekers sometimes experience when trying to find employment.

We also liaise with Hinkley Point C Jobs Service, which has enabled us to encourage some of those we support to apply directly for jobs at Hinkley Point C, as well as to agencies such as G4S and Host Somerset.

“Throughout 2018, Work-Wise ran every Wednesday and we helped 886 individual attendees – that’s an average of 18 people per week. During that time, we also welcomed 77 new members.”

A service user who first attended Work-Wise in the summer of 2018 said: “Work-Wise helped me with constructive suggestions about my CV, gave me advice about job-seeking and – most of all – gave me encouragement when I was becoming quite downhearted and despondent about not having a job. They encouraged me to volunteer one day a week in the gardens of a local stately home, which is open to the public. From there I found temporary, part-time work at a local hospice, before successfully applying for the full-time post there. It’s such a huge relief to be employed again.”

The grant from the HPC Community Fund will support Work-Wise for 18 months.

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