Banks Group pushes the button on Blyth employability project technology upgrade

April 19, 2016 | Brenkley News

The job prospects of young users of a successful employability project in a Northumberland town have received a boost after a four-figure grant from a regional employer paid for the scheme’s suite of laptops to be updated.

The Silx Employability Project in Blyth works with local young people aged 16 – 25 on issues relating to employability, training and returning to education, and is part of the multi-award winning Silx Teen Bar project that is run by regional charity People & Drugs Ltd.

Its qualified youth workers and dedicated progression worker offer the young service users support and advice on both employability issues and personal matters that may be a barrier to their progression in life, and aim to help them access employment, participate in training or undertake a qualification.

The free service provides access to telephones, laptops and printers, help in creating and updating CVs, covering letters, application forms, completing online courses and accredited qualifications, as well as access to a fund that allows young people to be supported financially with travel, clothing and external qualifications.

More than 250 local young people have accessed the service in the last year, with 84 of them going on to accredited qualifications and 55 moving into paid employment.

And now, People & Drugs Ltd has used a £2,834 grant from the Banks Group, provided via its Banks Community Fund, to install a suite of eight new laptops, as well as to purchase laptop bags and the software required to go with them.

Established 20 years ago and located on Church Street in Blyth, the Silx Teen Bar is the most popular in participation youth project in Northumberland, and offers young people with a range of free recreational, educational, and fun activities for local young people four evenings a week.

Its activities are designed to encourage them to participate in the large range of facilities that are available within the sessions, which include health awareness projects, creative art schemes, sport related and recreational activities, as well as participation in wider community-based events and activities.

It actively targets those who are disadvantaged to ensure that financial circumstances are not a barrier to participation, with the staff team consisting of professionally qualified youth workers with extensive experience of working with young people.

Pauline Blake, funding officer at People & Drugs Ltd, says: “We’re based in one of the most deprived parts of the UK, and many of the young people with whom we work just don’t get the chance they need to make their way in the world – they simply don’t know what it takes to apply for a job, might not have anyone in their family who can guide them or might not even own a suitable pair of trousers or shoes in which they can attend a job interview.

“Our policy is to help as many people as possible without judging them in any way, and we try to create a positive, social atmosphere to get them through the door before working out the best ways in which we can help them.

“Many of the young people we work with have been out of education, employment or training for some time, so to be able to help so many of them get into more positive situations is both immensely satisfying for us and has a tangible positive impact on dozens of families living in our community.

“Our existing laptop suite is central to the services we offer and has been very well used, but it’s long been need of an upgrade, and we would have had to carry on making the best of what we had for the foreseeable future if The Banks Group hadn’t made this generous donation to our work.

“There now tends to be something of a rush to the new laptops when we open our doors in the morning, and we hope the new laptops will help to attract more people in to see how we can help them find a way forward towards building themselves a better life.”

Banks Mining currently employs over 200 people across the Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mine sites near Cramlington, which jointly contribute around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain, and which have also enabled Banks to donate around £800,000 to projects in Northumberland over the last decade alone through the Banks Community Fund.

Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at The Banks Group, adds: “This is a fantastic community project that’s making a positive difference to the lives of dozens of local young people and their families, and we hope the support we’re providing will help many more young people find the right sort of employment, training and personal development opportunities for them.”

For further information on the support services available through the Silx Teen Bar, visit www.silxteen.com

The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects.  Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.

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