A helping hand for the jobless

Finding yourself out of work is the last thing you need, especially given the state of the current job market.

But as employers look to make savings and cutbacks, this is becoming more and more the case.

After mother-of-two Jo Burrows was made redundant from her job of eight years at Ilkeston’s Derby College in June, she did not know where to turn.

But six months on, after receiving training and advice from Bath Street-based charity Direct Help and Advice (DHA), the 44-year-old has set up her own business, offering a vintage tea experience for parties and events.

She said: “It was hard to know what to do at my age but when I met Kath Jackson at DHA we talked about my ambitions and my reasons for being there and that I wanted to attend training in food safety.

“I had previously attended catering college and had worked in local bakeries for eight years, had a passion for food and for years had dreamed of running my own food company.”

DHA offers debt and welfare advice to vulnerable people in Erewash, who are often referred, like Jo, through the Job Centre.

It has just received a £300,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, which will allow it to train people over the next three years.

Jo had held a food safety certificate, which had expired, and because she was on benefits could not afford to fund the renewal herself.

DHA was able to offer her a place on a course, which she passed allowing her to set up Janjos with business partner Janice.

Jo added: “What looked like a bleak situation has become something really positive.

“Attending the training with DHA has changed my life and helped me to fulfil my dream.”

She helped team members celebrate the lottery grant with Mayor of Erewash Cllr Jennifer Hulls by serving them tea recently.

The centre, as well as offering free, confidential and independent advice to families on issues of debt, welfare, and housing, it particularly offers help to vulnerable people such as the unemployed and the over-65s.

It offers basic training on how to find work as well as practical training on issues including basic computer training, budgeting, food safety, health and safety, Skype for beginners and how to set up and use email.

Centre manager Kath Jackson said that the £300,000 award was a huge boost in difficult economic times: “We are finding more and more people coming to us as the numbers of those people out of work continue to rise, in an area that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.”

Call 01332 287 850 to find out how DHA can help you.