Carlisle tenants who have signed up to a unique training programme with free driving lessons have deemed it a lifeline and a passport to gaining employment.
The Driving Back to Work course is thanks to housing association Riverside who have put together a month-long course and 14 driving lessons to help their tenants get a job at the end of it.
Ten tenants have signed up to the course which is part-funded through Riverside’s Ladders of Aspiration scheme and working in partnership with provider PHX Training in the city centre.
The course is classroom-based and they will learn about customer service, retail, information technology and business administration to prepare them for the working world. They will also receive help in writing a CV, filling in application forms and interviewing skills. Upon completion participants will receive a level one certificate along with a guaranteed job interview with local employers.
In addition they will have their provisional driving licence and theory test paid for, and 14 driving lessons.
“It’s a real struggle being out of work, especially with four children including a new born baby to look after. Doing this course is a lifeline and a passport to work, it’s giving me that link to getting a new job,” says 34-year-old James Sharman from Raffles who has been out of work for three months.
He added: “I’ve worked all my life in retail and I’m happy to do anything. This course will equip me with the qualifications to apply for other positions and searching for jobs. Having the opportunity to get free driving lessons and my licence and theory test paid for means I will be able to look further afield for work. I would never have been able to afford to drive if I’d funded it myself, this is invaluable to me and will allow me to be more mobile and find work outside Carlisle.”
Riverside Chairman Max Steinberg CBE visited Riverside tenants who have benefited from the funding, and met participants on the course to wish them all the best. He saw first-hand the positive impact the training is having on their lives.
“We are pleased to able to fund this course through our Ladders of Aspiration scheme to improve the lives of our customers in Carlisle. It was very encouraging to meet people on the course and hear them say how it will help them in to employment,” said Mr Steinberg.
“As Carlisle is in a rural area, providing free driving lessons will enable them to apply for jobs outside Carlisle which they couldn’t do because of difficulties getting there. Driving will also give them their independence and freedom, I hope the initiative will make a positive impact to their lives.”
The Ladders of Aspiration scheme was set up last year as part of Riverside’s 90th birthday celebrations, and is available for tenants to achieve their career aspirations to pay for training, a course, professional qualification, course materials or support a new business venture.
“It was wonderful to meet Max and to thank him for giving us this opportunity. He gave us all such a boost and made us believe we can succeed and aspire to our dreams, says Rachel Green, a mum of five children, who is doing the programme.
The 30-year-old from Petteril Bank added: “Not only does the course give me the chance to get qualifications, but the driving lessons will make a huge difference to me and my children as I will be able to take them on day trips out. Being able to drive will give us freedom and independence to do activities and find employment further afield without having to rely on public transport, especially if the job is based out of town.
“My youngest two are twins who will be starting school in September so I’m looking to the future, and want to study for my English and Maths qualifications once I’m in work.”