Threatened scheme battling on

AN under-threat employment facility that fell victim to savage Government cuts has vowed to continue with a limited service.

The Wharton Trust’s successful Access to Employment course had seen on average a third of its users into work over the past two years.

Of around 300 jobseekers each year, it has helped 100 people into employment.

But, as reported in the Hartlepool Mail last month, the future of the jobs facility, at the Wharton Terrace-based centre in Hartlepool, was in the balance when funding was cut.

It was feared the service, which needs £70,000 a year to run, may come to an end this month as the course was surviving on reserves from the charity side of the centre.

But today, bosses said staff would continue to run the course, which provides people with employability skills, “for as long as we can”.

Access to Employment co-ordinator Carl Crossman said: “We have reduced the service by approximately 50 per cent.

“It is now ran on appointments-only basis.”

He added that previously advisors could see up to 25 people a day. But now the service will be limited to around six half-hour appointments per advisor each day.

Mr Crossman said jobseekers are still being registered and the course has 360 people signed up, though he added: “It just means we can’t see people as often as we would like to.

“It might mean we will get 40 to 50 people into work instead of 100 and we may not have the level of success we have seen in the past two years.

“At the moment we are having to streamline the service because we haven’t got the funds. Obviously we would like to keep it open all day.”

He added: “I’m absolutely devastated we can’t offer the service we want for the people of the Dyke House community.”

Mr Crossman stressed that the rest of the centre was running as normal and said: “We want to be able to do so much more to help people.”

The scheme was one of several town facilities which received funding from the Government’s Working Neighbourhood Fund, which was withdrawn last year amid widespread budget cuts.