The Rossendale Works project expands

An innovative Rossendale employability project has been expanded thanks to a grant from the Department of Work and Pensions.

The Rossendale Borough Council (RBC) scheme - initially set up for a 12-month trial period in partnership with Active Lancashire - was so successful it has been expanded.

Rossendale Works helps support people back into employment who have multiple barriers and complex issues. Now that work is complemented by Rossendale Futures, which provides a holistic approach to improving participants’ wellbeing by offering free activities.

Rossendale Council Chief Executive Stuart Sugarman said:

“Rossendale Works is a grassroots approach to helping people who are struggling to find employment and it has been hugely successful. As an authority, we saw this as an opportunity to try to help those who were struggling to return to work for a variety of reasons. Those first 12 months were an experiment to see if it worked, but the project far exceeded all the targets and our expectations. By having faith to back Rossendale Works as a trial, the council was able to get the necessary data to show proof of the concept to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that this scheme works and attract the funding. Now it has expanded and will help even more people.”

The DWP East Lancashire Partnership Manager Frances Starkie said:

“We are looking forward to continuing to work with RBC on what is quite an innovative approach to moving people who require support to address their self-esteem, motivation and social inclusivity into activities and hopefully into work. The barriers can be huge for someone who is not in work and although we have a specialised team at the Jobcentre, it is Active Lancashire’s Paul Becouarn that is the focal point of the success of Rossendale Works. Through the activities on offer Paul is able to break down barriers and misconceptions which can prevent individuals moving forward.”

Paul Becouarn manages the scheme and now has three part-time members of staff to help with delivery, all of whom have come through Active Lancashire’s Challenge through Sport Initiative. He said:

“The success of Rossendale Works has caused a great deal of interest from other boroughs across Lancashire and I have been asked to speak to many other areas who want to follow Rossendale’s lead. It is exciting to see the developments but there will also be challenges because this project has to be properly managed.”

In the first 12 months, Rossendale Works helped 80 people into activities, 27 into employment and 32 into placements. Many more were also engaged in community activities.

In Bacup, Paul has already introduced chill and chat sessions at Shenkido Yoga on Wednesdays from 1-3pm, boxing and snooker at the A, B and D Centre on Fridays from 11-noon, and is in negotiation with Pioneer Community Health Studio about multi-weights sessions.

He said the new scheme would lead to a more personalised approach and more one-to-one work with clients. We would be pleased to speak to local employers who are looking to recruit and who are able to offer four week trial placement opportunities.

Active Lancashire Chief Executive Adrian Leather said:

“We are proud of the joint work and partnership which has been forged through the Rossendale Futures project; lives are being improved by getting people active and back into employment. We recognise the difference that committed staff make to this challenging work and are grateful that the project’s success has been recognised with additional investment.”

Companies wanting to know more about how they can support Rossendale Works by providing work experience or training opportunities should contact sriley@activelancashire.org.uk  or call Active Lancashire on 01772 299830


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