From 2015-2019, Walsall College was one of 16 partners working with the Heart of England Community Foundation to deliver Community Matters – a programme aimed at helping people across the Black Country move into or get closer to employment by developing their skills and confidence.
Project Coordinator, Natalie Barker and Project Mentor Gurpal Kaur set out to work with individuals furthest away from the labour market, helping them overcome any barriers they faced when searching for jobs.
Working from local community venues and schools, they hosted coffee mornings, health and wellbeing sessions, job clubs and accredited courses from Maths and English to Hair and Image, among other activities. They also helped people complete voluntary or work placements.
The team worked hard to build everyone’s trust by letting them talk about their experiences and concerns; empathising with them so that they felt they were in a safe, comfortable space where they could build their confidence over time.
Venues were activities took place included Moxley People Centre, Ryecroft Community Hub, Caldmore Gardens and Palfrey School.
Community Matters has led to 157 individuals proactively being involved in the programme. 36 of these completed education and training programmes and 27 individuals went into employment.
A final Signposting Event in December at Ryecroft Community Hub enabled the last group of project participants to discuss future opportunities for support.
Community Matters is managed by the Heart of England Community Foundation in partnership with local organisations across the Black Country. It is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF), who are co-investing in local projects tackling the root causes of worklessness, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth.