Help is on hand


A COMMUNITY association has teamed up with housing chiefs to boost services for residents.

Owton Fens Community Association (OFCA) has joined forces with Housing Hartlepool to provide free drop-in IT facilities as well as trained information and advice workers from the base in Catcote Road to “assist and improve” opportunities for residents.

OFCA’s SEARCH initiative was launched in 2010 and is open four days a week offering a drop-in service for residents looking for work, providing help and support with CV’s, job applications, letters, emails and information on latest vacancies.

OFCA say the support of Housing Hartlepool will not only help them continue to provide its employment, advice and information services but will also now offer residents access to internet facilities for benefit enquiries and other online services.

OFCA and Housing Hartlepool say they are “concerned” about the affect the government’s welfare reforms will have and say it is important those residents without access to the internet or a computer have somewhere to go and access the correct services.

Community bosses say they will endeavour to point people in the right direction if they are unable to help themselves.

Tom Sant, chair of OFCA, said: “If we cannot help you, we know someone who can.

“We have developed the initiative because of the recent changes in the welfare system, claiming benefits or seeking employment will all be done online.”

The centre also offers hot-desking, accommodation and business support to individuals, voluntary community organisations and social enterprises, providing one-to-one advice and support for the “development” of social enterprise initiatives, including funding opportunities, training, health and safety issues.

Staff also help support the registration of enterprises and business.

For more information call OFCA on (01429) 283187.