East Lancs centre opening its doors to help 13-25-year-olds find employment

Debs Stelling, the Fairbridge programme manager, leads a class

Debs Stelling, the Fairbridge programme manager, leads a class

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

A MAJOR new centre for the Prince’s Trust in East Lancashire to help turn around the lives of young unemployed people is set to officially open its doors.

And reporters from the Lancashire Telegraph were invited in for an exclusive preview of the refit of the historic Sandygate Mill, in Burnley’s Weavers’ Triangle.

Prince Charles has a special relationship with the former cotton industry’s heartland and has been personally involved in regeneration efforts through his many charitable organisations.

Several programmes will be offered from the new centre, which is the second major development there after the university technical college in nearby Victoria Mill.

One, the Fairbridge programme, is for 13-25 year olds and comes with a five-day access course, offering support with individual issues and new skills to bolster a candidate’s employability.

Jonathan Townsend, the Trust’s regional director, said: “The numbers of young people in Lancashire who are long-term unemployed remains stubbornly high at 1,155.

“It is these young people – who are furthest from the labour market – who need our support the most. The new centre will allow up to provide a hub in the area for young people to help them overcome barriers to employment and gain the confidence and skills they need to find work.”

An open day is scheduled for next Thursday, from 3pm until 5pm, when people can see the facilities for themselves.

The target for the year ahead is to help 600 youngsters.

One person helped out by the enterprise programme is 25-year-old Rebecca Brown, from Burnley, who established Pacey Pooches, a dog-walking and pet-sitting service.

She had ambitions to become a professional footballer but suffered a serious pelvis injury. With help from a trust mentor she stayed on track with a fresh goal.

Rebecca said: “When I injured my pelvis I thought it was all over before it had even begun but with help from my Prince’s Trust mentor and determination it all worked out and now all of the hard work is beginning to pay off.

“I’m hoping to expand again soon and buy another van and employ some more staff.

“Things couldn’t be further from how they were a few years ago.”

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