Group shines a light

A BUSINESS support group is expanding its service to provide help from within the heart of a community.

Five Lamps, a non-profit-making charity, has just opened a new satellite office in Billingham.

The hope is that it will encourage people to take the practical advice and assistance being offered on their doorstep.

Part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, Five Lamps help to deliver Stockton Borough Council's Gateway Service by helping people to explore the idea of self-employment.

It was first set up in Thornaby as a type of job club and has grown in scope and scale.

Now the group, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has expanded its activities further by opening an office in Billingham Community Centre, in The Causeway, Billingham.

It offers practical help in an informal and friendly setting.

Five Lamps' business coach, Deborah Shanley, who runs the Billingham office, said: "It is a case of taking the services we offer to the people who need it, by making it as accessible as possible."

Those services are free and available to anyone – young and old alike.

Deborah added: "We help people to explore the option of self-employment. For example, someone might want to find out how if they can transform a hobby or pastime into something they can earn a living from?"

The new Billingham office is open five days a week, from 9am to 5pm.

Anyone wanting further information should contact Mrs Shanley on 0300 1110554 (free of charge) or (01642) 608316 or email