Exmouth church work club offers jobless a leg up
PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 May 2016
An Exmouth church is putting what it preaches into practice.
For almost five years, Glenorchy Church, in Exeter Road, has been hosting a weekly jobs fair to help get people back into work.
The work club offers people a confidential job search online, help with basic skills and highlights employment opportunities that may have been missed.
The Bible teaches that Christians should have compassion for others and a desire for justice.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the numbers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Exmouth has fallen.
Co-ordinator of the project Simon Skidmore, 60, believes it is vital that as many people as possible are in employment.
He said: “We have been running the work club for five years in July. We started it as a response to Exmouth’s Jobcentre closing down. We are really looking forward to our five-year anniversary.
“The club is part of Glenorchy Church’s mission to help the Exmouth community. We have been very successful. We have a range of different age groups coming into the church.
“I think a jobs club is very important. After I left the army, I turned to one to get back into work and ended up working in Exeter for 11 years.
“It is very important for people to be in work and to have a routine – otherwise they spend all their time in their homes, vegetating. Work has a number of social and economic benefits. My message to people is to just go along – we are all very friendly and all you have got to lose is some of your time. People can even just come in for a coffee, biscuit and a chat.”
However, finding employment isn’t easy for everyone.
Nationally, 1.7 million people are unemployed, and the employment rate for people with learning disabilities across the country is only six per cent.
This means just 10,000 people with disabilities are in work.
Mr Skidmore believes this is a huge waste of Britain’s natural talent.
He said the church aims to restore unemployed people’s confidence.
Mr Skidmore continued: “We help with CVs, interview techniques and we get in touch with organisations on behalf of others. We also teach people to become more computer literate. We work with a number of businesses in both Exeter and Exmouth.
“I post a number of jobs onto the Glenorchy Work Club Facebook page. A lot of the people we meet aren’t religious and it would defeat the purpose of the club if it was about that.
“We only run the work club once a week, but I reckon we could fill the church three times over if we could run the club more often.
“We are very focused on helping people with disabilities back into work. Both young and old people experience discrimination. There is a whole pool of talent being wasted because employers don’t want to take a risk.”
In the first three months of 2016, there were 31.41million people in employment nationally.
Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen from 5.6 per cent this time last year to 5.1 per cent.
However, the Reverend Robert Jennings said there were still too many people in Exmouth who needed help.
He said: “We consider the work club to be a part of the church’s mission. Our motto is that ‘no neighbour is left behind’.
“Despite what this government says, there are still many people in Exmouth who are looking for work.”
The work club, which runs every Thursday morning, from 9.15am until 12.15pm, has helped hundreds of people.
Stephen Thorn, 57, is one of Glenorchy Church’s success stories.
He was unemployed for a year before he got a job with East Devon District Council.
Previously, Stephen had washed dishes at a café for 11 years before he decided on a change of direction.
He was full of praise for the volunteers at the club for helping him to get back onto his feet.
The 57-year-old said his new job of helping in the community had been his ‘dream’ position for a number of years.
Stephen, of Isca Road, said: “I was pointed in the direction of the work club by Exeter Jobcentre. I had lost my confidence after being unemployed for a year and a bit. But the club helped me with my qualifications and applications.
“I would like to say a big thank-you to Simon and the team. Thanks to them, I have got a job at East Devon District Council as a cleaner. It is my dream position. I will be working 22-and-a-half hours per week.”
If you would like to join the Glenorchy Work Club, call 01395 271998, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.glenorchyworkclub.co.uk. Alternatively, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Glenorchy-Work-Club-Exmouth-215712015123900/.