Aspire Housing customers are to be offered new help to volunteer and find a job, under a new plan.
Regular drop-in sessions to help tenants find volunteering opportunities are to be launched on Wednesday 21 September.
North Staffordshire Volunteer Centre is also providing two dedicated volunteer coordinators to work specifically with Aspire Housing customers to encourage them to take up some of the 400 volunteering opportunities the centre has available.
Weekly or fortnightly sessions are being held both in Newcastle town centre and in Crackley, Poolfields and Cross Heath. This is because these neighbourhoods are priorities for helping people back into work.
Aspire Housing’s drive for customers to take up volunteering is aimed at helping customers into work.
Tim Edwards, Aspire Group head of regeneration, said: “A lot of research has shown that social housing tenants are more likely than private home owners to be long term unemployed and out of the labour market.
“If you have not worked for a long time it is also more difficult to get back into work or training than if you have worked recently.
“We recognise that people need to take one step at a time in getting back to work.
“Volunteering is a great way to get back into the habit of working, to try out something new, to improve your CV and to improve your self-confidence.”
Aspire Housing’s research has shown that 14 out of its 16 neighbourhood areas were worse than national average for levels of employment and 13 out of 16 neighbourhoods were worse than national average for overall levels of deprivation. Aspire estimates that no-one is working in least two in five of its households.
Tracy Ellis, volunteer coordinator at North Staffordshire Volunteer Centre, added: “We have between 350 and 400 volunteering opportunities at any one time across North Staffordshire, ranging from administration and reception to sports coaching and youth work.
“We are working with Aspire Housing to match those opportunities to their customers who are looking for ways to get into work or to make a contribution in their communities.”
Aaron Costello, aged 19, is volunteering with Aspire’s estate caretaking team after being unable to get a job in plumbing after getting qualifications from Stoke-on-Trent College.
He said: “I’ve done gardening, tiling, moving furniture, picking up rubbish, tidying – everything really.
“The work will look good on my CV. It shows I’ve not being sat at home doing nothing and hopefully will help me to get a job or an apprenticeship.”
Sessions to find out about volunteering are being run at the following locations. Anyone interested can call 01782 661173 for an appointment, or drop in.
Newcastle Job Centre, Paradise Street
Wednesday 21 September, and then fortnightly, 10am – 2pm
Ramsey Road Job Club, Cross Heath
Wednesday 21 September, from 10am – 1pm
Then on Wednesday 5 October and monthly afterwards
Crackley Community Centre
Thursday 22 September, 10am – 12noon
Poolfields Community Centre
Thursday 22 September, 1pm – 3pm
Every Thursday 10am – 3pm
Newcastle Volunteer Centre, Andrew Place (near Zanzibar)
Monday to Thursdays, 9am – 3pm