Employment minister Chris Grayling took time out during a brief visit to Yorkshire yesterday to see the work being done by Harrogate charity and social enterprise Paperworks to help people overcome individual challenges and find employment.
The minister was welcomed by the trainees and personally answered their questions about training and benefits during a tour of the workshop on Hookstone Avenue.
He said more needed to be done to make it as easy as possible for projects like Paperworks to carry out their work.
Mr Grayling said:
Small, community based organisations like Paperworks really can transform the lives of people who have big challenges when it comes to finding employment.
However, he admitted that Government policies and funding were unlikely to impact on the viability of community based training centres and that this was one area where the hard work of individuals and volunteers made the greatest contribution.
Mr Grayling added:
In this situation it’s not so much what the government does but what Paperworks does and I have seen today how the hard work and professionalism of everyone involved has made this such a success story.
What we as a government need to do now is to find ways to champion the work of organisations like this which are at the heart of their communities doing excellent work.
Paperworks provides work experience and work skills training to people with learning disabilities, mental health and other health related barriers to work with the objective of preparing them for employment and finding them jobs with local firms.
More than half its revenue comes from providing professional services to local businesses including direct mail, mail order picking, packing and print.
Paperworks manager Damien Handslip said small organisations like his were better placed to offer personalised support than larger providers, particularly for those with extra support needs.
Damien Handslip said:
Because we are closer to the community we understand local issues better and our size and flexibility means we can react and adapt more quickly
However, small organisations struggle to negotiate with regional work programme providers because of the time involved and the minister has given us some useful advice today which will hopefully give us a better chance of success in the future.
We will continue to work hard to raise awareness of the work we do here and our ability to offer flexible and personalised training programmes for our trainees.