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Blackburn employment project in the running for national award

A project which helps people in Blackburn get back into training and work has been shortlisted for a national award. 

The Fork Lift Truck training course run by Newground Together, part of Together Housing Group, has been named as a finalist in the Excellence in Employment and Training Category of the Tenant ParticipationandAdvisory Service (TPAS) Awards. 

Due to overwhelming demand, Newground Together has run six courses to date and trained 75 people (including 39 tenants), achieving a staggering 95% pass rate. Of the first 44 graduates, Newground Together has supported 81% into employment and training within six months and continue to support the others. 

The course has proved popular with men and women from across the spectrum from the age of 24 to 63. One in five have come from a black or minority ethnic background and Newground Together has used voice translators to give those whose first language isn’t English the same opportunities as the others on the course. 

The Fork Lift Truck course included Customer Service and Warehousing training and on completion, Newground Together invited the participants to a Health and Safety course, which included Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), Working at Heights, Traffic Management and Working in Confined Spaces training. But as Nic McGrath, Newground Together’s Community Programmes Director explains, the course wasn’t just about learning the practicalities.  

The classroombased training allowed friendships to form, which helped boost confidence and reduce isolation, something which is common among those who have been out of work for a long time. Each student was also allocated a Newground Mentor, who was able to build a relationship and support with personal issues such as debt, mental health and drug and alcohol addictions. As such we made several referrals for food parcels and signposted to partner agencies such as Lancashire Mind and the Citizens Advice Bureau.   

“One student, who was very withdrawn, broke down inconsolably in class one day. It turned out he had fallen into debt after losing his job, wife and house. He’d lost touch with his family as he was living in a hostel known for drug abuse and violence and felt too ashamed to admit his situation.  

Due to the severity of his depression, we assigned him two mentors, one focused on suicide prevention and the other on debt and housing. We also funded a clinical psychotherapist. Within three weeks, there was a finance plan in placehe had a job and within a week he was promoted to supervisor, and he was seeing his children again and smiling. 

“We are delighted that the training has been independently recognised by being shortlisted for an award. The success of the programme is testament to the hard work of the course participants who have gone on to achieve great things.  

The winners of the TPAS Awards will be announced at a special ceremony in Manchester on 18 September 2020. 

The project is one of a number of initiatives Newground Together runs to help tenants and residents in the wider community into training and employment. For more information, visit 

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