Escaping the Rural Rat Race

Young people helped to find jobs they love.

Support for young people in rural areas to overcome the barriers they face to the workplace is in the spotlight today, with a Heathfield charity leading the way in bridging the gap between education and employment.

Wealden Works, known for its intensive support for local young people, uses a mix of personal and skills development to change lives.

Today, they shared their successes with Baroness Stedman-Scott, the Lord’s Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions, and outlined their offer which is dedicated to young people who don’t have the support network most enjoy.

The charity supports young people by matching them with training opportunities and vacancies that suit their interests and improve their chances of finding work, also helping build their confidence and self-esteem. In a clear sign of their impact, 96% of young people who complete their programmes progress into employment, training, apprenticeships or education.

“I am 100% behind programmes like this one. Their understanding of the community and the surrounding jobs market means their advice is invaluable to young people who don’t have the support networks that most enjoy. It’s exactly this kind of organisation that our jobcentres should be working with – with buckets of credibility in their community, they’re helping change people’s lives by supporting them to find jobs they love.”

– Minister for Lords Baroness Stedman-Scott

It’s from their base in Heathfield that Wealden Works has become a local, trusted organisation; something that has been key to getting new young people through their doors after they hear from friends about the benefits, and something that means jobcentres will refer young people in the area to their intensive service.

“Myself, staff and particularly our new Wealden Works group are absolutely delighted that our Ambassador, Baroness Stedman-Scott, will be visiting us at the Youth Centre. It will be a real opportunity for present and past participants to share their aspirations, success stories and the issues they face securing employment and further education in rural areas.”

– Lisa Crozier, Team Leader

As well as highlighting the positives, the Heathfield-based charity shared its insight into the unique challenges faced by young people living in rural areas when it comes to finding and staying in work.

In particular as part of their ‘Aftercare Programme’, the charity remains in regular contact with participants for at least a year after the course to ensure they achieve all their goals and that success is long term.