A PARTNERSHIP between a Southsea shop and the Job Centre is not only helping people find work, but also boosting money for charity.
The Debra furniture shop in Elm Grove only opened in November, and for its manager, Deborah Taylor, it was an obvious choice where she went to find her volunteer staff.
She approached the Job Centre in Cosham, who placed volunteers with the shop.
She said: ‘I wanted people who were very dedicated and wanted to learn about charities.
‘They come here as a dedicated work experience placement.
‘They don’t get paid, but they get their benefits still, they have to do their job searches, but they are getting experience while they do it.
‘It’s a really big work experience for them, as for example before they start working here they might not understand that they have to start work on time.
‘Working here builds their confidence and their self-esteem and makes them realise that they can do things they put their mind to.’
One of the volunteers taken on in November was Chris Parfitt, who was initially asked to work in the shop for four weeks.
But he liked it so much he wanted to stay on, and now he is a permanent member of the team – on a salary.
Deborah went with Chris to the Job Centre, where they met Barbara Hammond, who talked them through the schemes available to help Chris get the job, and help Debra pay him.
‘Chris was really committed, and no job we asked him to do was beneath him.’
Thanks to the Work Initiative Scheme, the charity gets funding to pay roughly half Chris’s salary for the first 26 weeks of his employment.
‘If this is successful, we’ll do this in more of our shops,; said Deborah.
The charity raises money for research into the debilitating skin condition epidermolysis bullosa.
See debra.org.uk to find out more.