Volunteer-based mentor scheme is ‘just what Winchester has been waiting for’

Press Release: 01/07/2016

Employment mentoring programme volunteers and participants

The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Jane Rutter, held a celebration event on Tuesday 28 June to mark the success of the City Council’s employment mentoring service.

Winchester City Council is working with the national charity Sova to provide the service, which trains locally recruited mentors to provide moral and practical support for unemployed residents of the district.

During his welcoming speech, Cllr Steve Miller, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, said:

We have recognised since the start of the project that, although unemployment figures in the Winchester district are low compared to some of our neighbours, for the individual affected unemployment – or under-employment - is a major issue. Since we launched this service in March 2015 unemployment figures in the Winchester district have dropped from 1% to their current level of 0.5%. I am keen to extend the project so that we can see real results, in terms of helping the long-term unemployed to become ‘work-ready’ and ensuring those who are already able to work have the tools they need to get a job.

The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Jane Rutter, and Sova’s Chief Operating Officer, Sophie Wilson, recognised the commitment and dedication of the service’s volunteer mentors and presented them with certificates of appreciation. Those jobseekers who had actively engaged and developed their skills during the programme were also recognised with certificates of participation.

Alex Solomon, Sova’s Project Manager, who is running the service in the Winchester district and has trained all the volunteer mentors, offered some real-life case studies from mentors and participants who have benefited from Sova mentoring programmes.

Alex said:

So far 21 volunteer mentors have been recruited in four phases of recruitment. These volunteers have given over 350 hours of support to 37 people seeking employment opportunities. 90% of those participating in the programme have seen improvements to their job-search skills.

The event took place at the Mayor’s official residence, Abbey House, and was attended by staff from Sova as well as referral agencies such as Job Centre Plus, Trinity Winchester, The Hampshire Futures team at Hampshire County Council and the City Council’s housing team.

If you would like help with finding work and you live within the Winchester district or are interested in volunteering on the programme please contact Alex Solomon at asolomon@winchester.gov.uk or on 07980 732 005. Volunteer training courses will take place over three days in August 2016.

For further information about the employment mentoring service visit www.winchester.gov.uk/employmentmentoring or www.sova.org.uk/project/WDEM