Tomorrow’s people get inspiration for their futures at Shotton surface mine

December 12, 2014 | Brenkley News

The success of staff at a Northumberland surface mine has been held up as an example for local disadvantaged young people to follow during a charity-led visit to the site.

The North East arm of employability charity Tomorrow’s People set up a visit to regional employer Banks Mining’s Shotton surface mine near Cramlington for a party of young people from the Ashington, Alnwick and Morpeth areas to enable them to find out more about how the people that work there and how they’ve developed their careers at the site.

The visit formed part of the charity’s ten-week Working It Out programme for unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds, which aims to give participants renewed confidence and motivation, and to prepare them for future work or training opportunities.

It was designed to open up an industry that’s part of the young people’s regional heritage, but about which they might not know very much detail, and to also give them examples of people from their respective home areas who have built successful careers after coming into the business in junior positions.

The party heard presentations on Banks Mining’s operations at Shotton, the work done by the people based there, the ways in which the site is managed and restored, and how Banks works with local communities to ensure tangible benefits result from its presence in the area.

Over the last year, Tomorrow’s People has helped 99% of the local young people on its courses get into training, further education or employment, and Caroline Rogan, community liaison coordinator at the charity’s Hadston office in Northumberland, is hoping the Shotton visit will enable them to maintain this high success rate.

She says: “The young people with whom we work often come from very challenging backgrounds in very deprived areas, and they simply haven’t ever had the chance to learn and develop the personal skills and workplace behaviours that most of us take for granted.

“We provide them with a range of volunteering opportunities in which they can begin to do this, with groups such as food banks, the North East Springer Spaniel Rescue and local churches, and also arrange visits to organisations where they can talk to people who they can relate to about what they do on a day-to-day basis.

“Being able to speak directly to members of Banks’ Shotton team meant we were able to obtain information and answers that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get, and it clearly showed the members of the party what sorts of lives they’d be able to build for themselves with the right attitude and application.

“We had a brilliant response to the Shotton visit, with three people coming to see me the day afterwards to talk about how they might start to work towards applying for jobs there themselves, and it will hopefully provide some firm foundations on which everyone is able to build in the future.”

Family-owned Banks Mining employs around 200 people across the Shotton and nearby Brenkley Lane surface mine sites, and contributes around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain.

More than £400,000 is paid in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council through the two projects, which have also enabled the Banks Group to donate around £800,000 to local groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last decade alone through the Banks Community Fund.

Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at The Banks Group, who led the visit, adds: “The Tomorrow’s People group were clearly fascinated by the breadth of our operations at Shotton, and asked a lot of very pertinent questions about the different roles that our surface mines support in this area.

“As one of Northumberland’s largest private-sector employers, it’s important for us to help local young people understand the opportunities that exist on their doorsteps, and we’ve had many excellent examples of staff working their way up through the business from the bottom into senior positions that our visitors can look to emulate.”

Tomorrow’s People is a national charity that help disadvantaged adults and young people to get and keep a job.  Everything they do is focused on improving the long-term work prospects of those who face the greatest barriers to work.  Tomorrow’s People in Northumberland is based at Hadston House, Hadston, near the proposed Highthorn surface mine site.

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