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John Penrose MP Officially Opens – New Weston Employment Centre

Monday 4th April, 2022

Photo caption: From left to right, John Penrose MP, Drew Smith, Jenny Harrison and Jo Watson.

Last week the Weston College Group and Seetec Pluss were delighted to welcome local MP John Penrose to the brand-new Weston Employment Centre. The Centre is designed to help individuals looking for employment support and training with the shared goal of assisting adults into jobs with local employers.

The new Centre is based opposite the College’s Knightstone Campus in central Weston and has been designed to enable a collaborative approach to support individuals accessing help from Seetec Pluss through its employment support services, and where appropriate then accessing Weston College’s education and skills programmes to aid a positive employment progression.

The official opening saw a wide variety of guests and stakeholders visit the state-of-the-art Centre to witness the facilities, learn more about this unique partnership, discover what support is available, meet the team and also some of the participants who are already benefitting from the Centre.

Drew Smith, Restart Scheme Operations Director commented: “Our Restart Scheme team in Weston is currently supporting 400 individuals on their journey back into employment which is really fantastic. Even better than that, we’re working with the College to develop bespoke courses specifically for our participants.”

He continued, “The South West is predominantly one of the lowest paid areas in the country and we feel that the skills side of things is a real opportunity for us to change some of that.”

A Seetec Pluss participant on the Restart Scheme, who is also benefitting from the collaboration with Weston College, attended the opening to share her story of how she was plummeted into unemployment as a result of the pandemic. 41-year-old Jenny from Milton shared, “I’ve been unemployed for around 18 months now. I had a good job in Project Co-ordination, and I was by all means like everybody else.

“Like many people during the pandemic, I lost my job as a result of childcare problems and the financial impact of that was massive and caused me to sell a lot of my things to keep my family going. As time went on, I was increasingly isolated, and it bedded a sense of hopelessness that destroys your hope for the future.

“Seetec Pluss were a breath of fresh air; they were so welcoming, friendly and they really understood me. One of the most significant things they were able to do for me was provide me with a laptop which allowed me to reconnect with employment opportunities and create a professional job application.

“They also encouraged me to enrol with Weston College,” she continued, “so I’m now doing a Leadership and Management course to upskill and hopefully find even better employment than I was in before.

“I’m truly grateful; thank you isn’t a word that even begins to explain how grateful I am for what they’ve been able to do for me.”

Jo Watson, Weston College Group Deputy Principal said: “Seetec Pluss is a leading provider of work and wellbeing services that inspires thousands of people to find and progress in work each year, so for us this is a perfect partner, as they align with the College’s mission to create brighter futures. I would really encourage anyone who has found themselves out of work, to come and visit the new Weston Employment Centre, where I have seen first-hand how it can help individuals boost their confidence, learn and develop skills and get people back into work.”

John Penrose MP added: “The whole reason why Seetec Pluss is here and why this partnership is so important is not just because we’re coming out of a pandemic, it’s because we’d still always want organisations like this in partnership with local colleges doing what is happening here.

“It’s absolutely essential for people’s self-respect, for our overall economy, but also for the success and long-term sustainability of a community like Weston-super-Mare, that we take people who through no fault of their own just got a bit far away from the employment market and need a couple of very practical things done with them in order to get that back. The people of Weston [Super-Mare] are showing the way to the rest of the country about how it could be done and how it should be done.”

Seetec Pluss supports over 40,000 people every year with a wide range of barriers, disabilities and health conditions to move towards and into work. To find out more, visit Work, Wellbeing & Employment Services – Seetec Pluss

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