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The Chances project - helping people access training and employment

19 October 2021

Chances, a £4.9m Norfolk County Council project, co-funded by the European Social Fund, is reaching out to people in Norfolk who have recently lost their jobs or are long-term unemployed who may face barriers to finding work. It aims to help them get back into employment through new opportunities for support and training.

Launched in April 2021, the project has already supported nearly 300 participants on their journey to find employment.

Cllr Graham Plant, Cabinet Member for Growing the Economy, said: “In recent months, we have seen employment figures soar. This is really encouraging but some people are still struggling. They may have been furloughed through the Covid-19 pandemic and then lost their jobs, be long-term unemployed or have health issues that have limited their options. Chances could be the beginning of a journey to a new job or training opportunity.

“Thanks to our project partners based across the county, we will be able to use their local knowledge and expertise to provide much needed, targeted support for people close to where they live.”

The Norfolk County Council-led Chances for Work and Chances Healthy Living projects are being run by partners Voluntary Norfolk, Citizens Advice Norfolk, Citizens Advice Diss, Thetford and District, and Future Projects. There are local advocates based in each of the seven Norfolk district areas, who work to provide personalised one-to-one support.

Depending on the needs of the individual, the support could include help to identify skills gaps and finding suitable training and qualifications, support to access services to boost health and wellbeing, or finding ways to overcome barriers such as transport or accessing childcare. Support for those with physical or learning disabilities could also include providing help to access services, or assistance from a mental health specialist or disability support specialist who will be working closely with the Chances team.

Sam Whatling, is a 34 year-old mum of two young children, living in Thetford. “When the Job Centre referred me to the CHANCES project, I was put in touch with Lyn, my support worker. I’d been out of the game for eleven years, so she helped me put a CV together and supported me to look for courses. She helped me with my job application to Center Parcs and with the wording for the cover letter. That was really helpful.

“After my application, it all happened really quickly and I got a job at Center Parcs. I was really pleased to go back to work. Lyn was brilliant, I probably couldn’t have done it without her.”

Mel Jones, Chief Officer for Citizens Advice Diss, Thetford & District, said: “The Chances project provides a great way for people who are out of work to explore the labour market and access help with seeking work or other opportunities, such as volunteering. For those who have been out of work for some time, it helps them to bring their CV’s up to date and to seek employment that suits their individual needs.

“For those who are less work-ready, it enables them to explore other suitable opportunities. Our Chances advocates are friendly and helpful, as well as being very skilled in their field. We are delighted to be involved in this work, in partnership with a range of other organisations in Norfolk.”

The project which officially started in April 2021 will run until September 2023.

Individuals who are keen to find out more are welcome to contact the project team directly – for contact details and further information see www.norfolk.gov.uk/chances

European Social Fund

The Chances project is receiving up to £2,482.233 of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. View more via the GOV.UK website.

Many of the people that the programme will support are likely to be referred by a range of bodies including voluntary, community and social organisations and Job Centre Plus.

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