This year saw the launch of GREAT Opportunities at New Charter – a programme to help local people back into work, training and further education.

We’ve developed the three-year project to help reduce local unemployment and increase job opportunities for residents. Between now and 2015 we will be running activities across our neighbourhoods which will be focused on improving the lives of local people. This may involve helping residents to get ‘job ready’, support with further training or education, work placements, apprenticeships and even volunteering.

We will also be looking at where we can work with other organisations in Tameside to maximise opportunities for local people. We’ve already helped to improve the lives of many of our residents by supporting them back into work, further training or education. Here are just a couple of stories…

We are helping to tackle youth unemployment by starting work placements with our caretaking and grounds maintenance teams.This year, we have teamed up with Job Centre Plus to run work placements for 18 to 25-year olds and in April we welcomed the first of its new starters.23-year-old Stuart Wilde and Lee Wilson, 24, both from Ashton have started eight week voluntary placements with our caretaking team CleanCare. Between them Stuart and Lee have been in and out of work for a long time. They both have qualifications but applied for the work placements to help them develop practical skills and get the experience that employers look for. They have both been exceptional team members, so much so that Lee has been taken on as a permanent member of the team as a weekend caretaker. New Charter is also offering work placements with its grounds maintenance team Green Charter which looks after public open spaces and communal areas on estates.We are also asking for volunteers to get involved in new volunteering projects in our communities.

As the country celebrates national Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June), we urged our residents to get involved in new projects providing opportunities for people to get involved in adult social care and gardening.We have asked for local people to help create and look after a new community garden over the summer which is being built on a disused piece of land on one of our estates.The garden near New Charter’s Acresfield hub in Newton, Hyde, will feature flower and growing beds, seating and communal areas, a greenhouse and a tool bank. New Charter is helping residents’ association The Newton Group to design the garden and is looking for other people in the area to get involved in planting, growing fruit and veg, and maintaining the plot. Residents are also keen for people to help build furniture to be used and enjoyed in the garden.

For those who have skills elsewhere, New Charter is looking for people to help its older tenants living in sheltered housing schemes. This will involve working closely with the scheme managers and a range of tasks from fetching the tea to tidying up.

The volunteer positions are all part of our GREAT Opportunities programme to help tackle worklessness in its neighbourhoods. The programme aims to get people back into work by creating more opportunities for local people to develop their skills and build their confidence.

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