FREE training opportunities within the leisure industry are being offered to improve the lives of residents in Luton, to help alleviate some of the barriers to gaining qualifications and employment.
The LINK initiative, which has been developed by Active Luton, is focused on supporting adults who are unemployed and not in education, or working less than 16 hours a week and wishing to upskill.
A range of courses are being offered, enabling individuals to gain experience and build up their confidence to undertake qualifications. Individuals can learn to help deliver activity sessions, become assistant swimming teachers, lead running or walking groups or learn first aid. Many programmes lead to nationally recognised qualifications or provide openings to volunteering opportunities and possible jobs.
LINK, which is a Community Led Local Development (CLLD) initiative, is funded by the European Social Fund and is being rolled out in 11 areas across the town.
Active Luton has already connected with a range of organisations who work to improve quality of life outcomes for people in Luton and the team is keen to raise awareness still further, particularly among women and adults aged 50 and over, who are not active in the labour market.
Carol Trower, Workforce Development Manager at Active Luton and Lead Manager on the Link Programme outlined the thinking behind the project. She said:
‘Our aim through LINK is to provide a supported pathway to employability and volunteering opportunities in the Luton community, by addressing specific barriers to employment.
‘Factors in people’s backgrounds or personal circumstances can present extra challenges that may have disconnected them from work or social opportunities. These could be a variety of things such as a lack of qualifications, age, disability, physical and mental health issues, language or cultural barriers and more.
‘But by providing support, the Active Luton team hopes to raise personal confidence, expectations and ambitions, with a range of accredited and non-accredited qualifications.
‘We want to increase an individual’s chance of finding a job or getting more involved socially with the community. ‘
Hana Sladka is already a success story of the project. Hana was looking for a change of direction in her life and wanted to learn new skills. She initially signed up for a 10 week swimming course:
‘I enjoyed the course – it was good fun and I love learning new things. I met nice people and was taught by good teachers. When I started the course I hoped that I would get a job as a lifeguard at the end. While I was taking the course, I was offered the opportunity to take the Swimming Teacher Assistant qualification too and I thought, why not! ‘It’s a really nice role. Longer term I would like to qualify as a gym instructor or personal trainer.’
Since undertaking the training Hana has been offered employment with Active Luton and is now working full time as a Pool lifeguard at Inspire: Luton Sports Village.
Luton residents can find out more about the project and the qualification criteria at www.activeluton.co.uk/link or by calling the LINK team at Active Luton on 01582 400272