Thursday, December 7, 2023

Leicester training project boosts skills of people facing homelessness

People facing homelessness are getting the chance to equip themselves with new skills and job opportunities in a project run by Leicester City Council and a charity.

The St Mungo’s Multi Skills Centre opened its doors just over a year ago to offer training and help to people who are at risk of homelessness or already homeless.

The hub, which is based at Leicester City Council’s Construction Training Centre of Excellence, on Beaumont Leys Lane, can accommodate eight students who learn and train in a variety of skills including plumbing, carpentry, tiling, painting and decorating.

It enables them to work towards a basic qualification, and also to have the opportunity to work with the council’s housing voids and repairs teams, gaining practical workplace experience.

Over the last year, the centre has worked with 18 people from the homeless community, four of which have already completed their Open College Network (OCN) qualifications in Multi Skills Trades.

As well as being a place to learn new skills, the centre also provides a vital connection for people to start to recover from the trauma of homelessness. Staff help the students to rebuild their confidence to allow them to start re-engaging with their communities and the workplace, thereby improving their future prospects.

The centre runs every Monday to Wednesday, from 10am to 3pm, with lunch and travel costs provided.

St Mungo’s is a leading homelessness charity, which works in partnership with local authorities, health colleagues and communities, to end homelessness and rebuild lives.

Nationally last year it supported almost 28,000 people who were homeless, or at risk of homelessness, through 164 services. The charity’s work means that more than 2,700 people have somewhere safe to stay every night.

St Mungo’s also offer employment and educational support across Leicester, including an allotment in Highfields providing a safe outdoor space for clients to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Leicester deputy city mayor for housing, Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, said: “St Mungo’s is a well-respected national charity working with homeless people, and this joint project with them is a valuable way to help people to develop new skills and qualifications, to help them improve their mental health and life prospects.

“In the year since it opened its doors, it’s engaged with 18 people who are either at risk from homelessness or already homeless. The fact four of those have now gained some new practical qualifications is a real achievement and a big step forward towards a brighter future.

“By working with our housing repairs and voids team, they can put those skills to use in a real-life setting and gain valuable work experience too.”

One of the learners helped by the scheme said: “When I was a student at St Mungo’s, I learned new skills and met new people which really helped with my confidence after my time rough sleeping on the city streets.

“I am thankful for the support and encouragement St Mungo’s has given me and with this, I have been successful in getting a full-time job. This is the start of great things for me.”

St Mungo’s Leicester service manager, Gray Duguid, added: “Our ongoing partnership with Leicester City Council is making fundamental and direct impacts on the homeless community in Leicester.

“The opportunities the council are offering in terms of a place to learn and practical job placements is allowing people to see a future beyond the street.”

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