Salvation Army staff and volunteers at Chesterton have been praised by Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly for providing key skills needed to enable local people to get back into work.
Mr Farrelly made his comments after visiting the Army’s church in Brick Kiln Lane, where staff lay on training in a range of skills from computer technology and office skills to food safety and photography.
During a tour of the premises, Mr Farrelly met young people as they developed their IT skills and talked to staff and managers who oversee a variety of training programmes as part of an initiative called ‘Employment Plus’ which has been running locally for four years.
Church leader, Major Rose Denyer, said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to tell Mr Farrelly more about the work we do in helping to transform the lives of people by equipping them with the skills they need.
“We see it as part of our mission to offer not only a compassionate, friendly and warm welcome to the community but also practical help that help people into jobs.”
Major Alan Aggett, the Army’s Employment Mission Development Officer, told Mr Farrelly that the initiative was part of the Church’s historic mission.
“Unemployment is one of the main causes of poverty, as well as social exclusion, isolation and digital exclusion and this scheme addresses those concerns in a direct and practical way,” he said.
With the support of volunteers, the Chesterton church recently turned an unused area adjacent to its premises into a community allotment where local residents come to grow fresh produce.
After touring the allotment and meeting Church leaders, Mr Farrelly said: “The Salvation Army has a long tradition of helping the vulnerable and most marginalised in society and here at Chesterton that mission is also being put to practical ends by helping people find jobs.
“It was fantastic to see some of the great things the Army is doing for the community. The staff provide a listening ear, guidance and advice to help unemployed people not simply to survive but to thrive in a highly competitive labour market where skills are at a premium.”
Paul is pictured with staff outside the Salvation Army church in Brick Kiln Lane.