Project Profile 4: Furniture Matters

Recycling furniture and household appliances doesn’t immediately stand out as the obvious way to improve your employment prospects, but for residents in the Lancaster and Morecambe area, the Furniture Matters Training Initiative is providing just those opportunities. This Programme has been part funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund, co-financed by the Learning and Skills Council Lancashire. Through a range of practical hands-on work and basic skills training, disadvantaged and low skilled volunteers on the project are assisted to become ready for employment or further training. Nick Mann, Training and Projects Development Manager comments, ‘The volunteers we are helping through ESFi funding have never entered a learning environment since leaving school and this project is designed to boost their skills and give them the confidence to enter mainstream learning or get a
job'.

The project leaders became aware that many of their volunteers were lacking in basic skills such as literacy and numeracy and were unable to find work. Nick comments, ‘This is a common problem in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. We lack local employment opportunities and for those that do exist employers require references, qualifications or experience. Some of our volunteers have none of these and we wanted to change that.’ Each volunteer on the initiative has a tailored package of learning designed to boost their basic skills as well as their social and personal development. They are engaged in group activities, and many then find the confidence to tackle qualifications in health and safety, risk assessment and manual handling. ‘It’s all about making progress and improving their transferable skills’ says Nick. ‘Most are reluctant to enter a formal learning environment like a college but they are comfortable with us and prepared to let us help them to expand their horizons. We find that not only are they ready to find work or enter training but simple things like reading to their children become possible.’

Last year 15% of volunteers went on to find work, 45% entered further training in a traditional adult learning environment and 30% moved into supported learning. The project will target a further 150 people over the next three years.

‘Through this project ESF funding is providing key support to the regeneration of the Lancaster and Morecambe area by widening participation and stimulating the demand for learning and employment’ comments Sean Mullen, Contract Executive at the Co-financingi organisation, Learning and Skills Council Lancashire. ‘These disadvantaged individuals could quite easily slip through the net, but this project is ensuring they are able to contribute to the economic prosperity of the area by offering them the chance of work.’

For more information, please contact:

Nick Mann
Training and Projects Development Manager
Furniture Matters Training Initiative
Tel: 01524 428017
Website:  www.lsc.gov.uk/lancashire