Veronica Williamson, a volunteer from Sheringham Employment Plus Local, runs the facility, which opened in July 2013.
With experience of running two businesses in the town employing a small team, Veronica brings with her some experience in human resources.
There is a team of five volunteers who have helped 60 people and 15 have secured jobs. The team motivate people to use the hidden jobs market and approach companies that are not advertising. Veronica confirms: ‘One young man and his girlfriend – who he has since married – found work using the hidden jobs market method. He also attended church (corps) worship meetings, which had a positive effect on him because the corps embraces our jobseekers, giving them added support. They can also join activities in the corps programme, such as computer classes or coffee mornings, and come into contact with Salvationists who encourage and support them when they have interviews.’
At Sheringham, volunteers network with other agencies in the community, such as care providers, to help find jobs for their service users. They have developed good relationships and the agencies have faith that the Employment Plus Local will refer jobseekers whose skills match the role they are advertising. Veronica explains that the experience for the church and volunteers of hosting an Employment Plus Local ‘has been enlightening because it has helped us to empathise with people who really have lost motivation and with the situation this country is experiencing where, sometimes, people have to take low-paid jobs or have no job at all are marginalised or stigmatised.’ The Employment Plus Local has a place in the community that people recognise as an important part of the work carried out at the church.
The team’s holistic approach allows them to tailor the support to their clients. One person had already found work, but was struggling to read or write in English. The team discovered he had had no formal education in his home country so a retired primary school teacher and a modern languages teacher at Employment Plus Local are teaching him. Veronica concludes: ‘The best part about volunteering is sharing in people’s good news – for example, when they get an interview for the first time, which is very important for some of our clients, or that first job! For some of our visitors who have been out of work for a long time, the fact that they have an interview raises their self-esteem. It’s probably the most important part, seeing people change because their self-esteem has been raised.’