Date: 15/02/2008 Category: Adult Learning
Some of the stars of Medway Council's flagship social regeneration project Reignite told their stories at a special celebration event. The Valentine's Day event in Rochester's Corn Exchange highlighted the work that Reignite has done to ensure everyone can benefit from the regeneration of Medway. Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Economic Growth Cllr Jane Chitty introduced the event and presented flowers to three people who told a large audience how they had benefited from the project, which has so far been directly responsible for 75 people finding a job. Emma Everest, a single mother with three children, recognised that she needed to improve her skills so that she could return to work. After contacting Strood Community Project she is now working towards numeracy and computer skills and has gained self-confidence. Jake James went on a driving theory course and passed his test first time. He has now been helped back into full time education and is studying for three "A" levels. After Reignite helped to sort out an Educational Maintenance Allowance issue he has found part-time work and hopes to go on to university after sitting his exams. Mandy McAllister was a cleaner who dreamed of working with children with learning and physical disabilities. Reignite is helping her work towards achieving those dreams via a Prince's Trust scheme to build up her confidence followed by voluntary work at a local school. Now she is working towards a teaching assistant qualification. Also highlighted at the event, but unable to attend, was Karen Baker, who learned new skills in application form filling, interview techniques and presentation skills on a Reignite course. It helped her land a new job as Medway Council transport inspector/surveyor, which she describes as "a huge responsibility but a really enjoyable challenge". More than 400 local people have so far benefited from the £0.5 million Reignite project through skills training, new qualifications and other help. A number of people have gained new jobs as a direct result of the project. Reignite provides employment support for people who are either unemployed or on low wages in five Medway neighbourhoods: All Saints, Brook Lines, Melville and Brompton, Strood South and Twydall. Cllr Chitty said: “The council has worked very hard over a number of years to establish the funding and partner relationships that has made Reignite such a success. I’m pleased that all that effort has paid off and that local people have seen real benefits in their daily lives.” The council is leading a highly effective local partnership involving Church in Society, All Saints Community Project and other community organisations. They are working with the council to offer an employment outreach service in the heart of the neighbourhoods, where they are working with local people to remove barriers to work. Reignite is funded and supported by Medway Council, the South East England Development Agency, the European Union ERDF Interreg 3A programme, and Church in Society. Pictures are available. Please contact the press office.