Contributions from Active Inclusion projects in North Wales made up a significant part of an online event organized by the North Wales Regional Skills Partnership last month and supported by North Wales Economic Ambition Board.
The event sought to discuss the economic challenges facing the voluntary, public and private sectors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presentations from Denbighshire Citizens Advice Bureau and TAPE Community Music and Film, both of which run Active Inclusion Projects, were shown as part of the event.
Citizens at work
Denbighshire CAB spoke about their ‘Working@CitizensAdvice’ project, which aims to employ 48 long term unemployed participants in placements with local Citizens Advice Bureaus across North West Wales.
Even with the problems posed by the pandemic, they’ve so far managed to take their training online and engage with 14 participants, including one particular success story concerning a Syrian refugee.
He had graduated as a journalist before re-training as a stone mason and brought an impressive photography portfolio with him to the UK, and Denbighshire CAB were able to place him with a local firm, where he secured permanent work.
Another participant said: ‘Helping people has helped me to find a sense of purpose. Getting a full-time job has boosted my confidence and made me feel so much better.’
Necessity breeds creativity
Also presenting were TAPE Community Music and Film in Colwyn Bay – their AIF project ‘Creative Sparks’ allows participants to express their creative sides as they gain workplace skills, through photography, filmmaking, art, creative writing and more.
Participants have come together over lockdown to learn virtually together, managing to put together a film project even while not being able to be in the same place. It’s been an experience that people have taken to far more readily than could have been expected.
Andy at TAPE said ‘it was a little bit nerve-wracking, because we didn’t know if the holistic way of filmmaking that Tape takes would translate online. I’m happy to say that is has been a massive success – people have quickly forgotten about the webcams and seen us all as one group in a room.’
As the effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt on jobs in every sector, the role of employability programs such as the Active Inclusion Fund will be vital in helping people in North Wales maintain an inroad into the jobs market, as well as improving their wellbeing at a time when it’s most needed.
The Active Inclusion Fund is managed by WCVA, supported by funding from European Structural and Investment Funds. It aims to reduce economic inactivity in Wales and improve the employability of disadvantaged people. You can find more information on the sorts of projects you can run here.