WITH unemployment and benefits on the national agenda, a new community project has set out to combat these issues in the seaside town Selsey.
Sam Tate, project manager of SelseyWorks, is the driving force behind the hub, which has already received praise from Chichester District Council and this newspaper since it opened in November.
The hub has gone down so well, the council is considering rolling it out in other ‘deprived’ areas in the district, such as Chichester East, Chichester South and Tangmere.
And the team walked away with an Observer and Gazette Business Award for Innovation just weeks ago.
SelseyWorks is a hub which wears several different hats.
In one sense, it helps jobseekers and the long-term unemployed to get back into work.
Sam and her team help boost the confidence of the jobseekers and assist them with CVs and applying for jobs.
There have already been several success stories.
“We had a 17-year-old boy, Jordan Anthony, come in,” said Sam. “He had no qualifications, he’d had a hard time at school, it didn’t work out for him.
“He came into us six weeks ago, desperate for work. He was absolutely lovely and we helped him with his CV.
“Now he has a job in a cafe, Penny Lane. He has another job at West Sands fun fair. And when he isn’t working, he comes in and volunteers here. He does office work, answers the phone.
“What he really wants to do is be an estate agent, and he’s getting office experience.
“He is brilliant, a lovely lad. He really, really wants to work.”
The hub has helped another young man, who was in sheltered housing without a job.
He now works and lives at a pub, and is thriving.
Another of Sam’s missions is to challenge the perceptions of an idle and lazy unemployed.
“Most people on benefits are working really hard and are struggling to make ends meet,” she said. “It is about the fact, people in that situation it’s hard enough anyway, their confidence is taken away.
“We do not judge, we treat people as people. It could happen to anyone.”
But this is just one small part of the community project.
Another aspect is the pop-up shop, where people can display their products and test it on the high street. At the moment there are three artists, a jewellery-maker and a furniture-maker displaying their products in the shop.
There are also hot-desks, for budding entrepreneurs to use office space in an office environment, rather than working from home.
The team give business advice, help with benefits, run training courses, help with questions from carers and anything else residents need.
Sam said so far SelseyWorks has managed to help 120 people on a variety of different things, but at least half have been jobseekers.
She said it works so well because Selsey is geographically isolated, so the community spirit is strong.
“There are 11,000 people in Selsey, but it still feels like a village,” said Sam.
On whether it would work in other areas, Sam said it would need to be tailored to fit each community.
“It would not be the same, the work needs to be done to identify what those communities need, and each community will be completely different,” she said.
But whether or not the project would work in other places, SelseyWorks has certainly made its mark on the seaside town, and looks set to continue doing so.