A team which has helped almost 700 people find work has received a visit from the man responsible for setting its project in motion.
Crawley’s Work Programme, which was launched in July 2011 by Secretary of State Iain Duncan-Smith, was hailed by MP Henry Smith as a “shining example” to the rest of the nation.
The programme provides support to help people find work – and the project is only paid when some one has been in work for six months.
Based at Overline House, the team and service users spoke with Mr Duncan-Smith during his visit on Friday (February 13).
Tony Reece, of Northgate, who was made redundant from his construction job, explained how staff had helped him to look outside his comfort zone for work ideas.
Mr Reece, 58, who had a drugs habit many years ago, was told he would make him an ideal mentor for others trying to kick a habit. As a result, he spent time with a recovering alcoholic, listening to her story and sharing his experiences with her.
While the mentoring filled him with pride, he said he was looking forward to starting work with his son-in-law’s company shortly. Mr Reece added: “To come here has been a big positive for me.”
Work Programme has placed 689 Crawley people in work since opening in 2011 and there are currently 333 going through the programme.
The success rate was raised by Mr Duncan-Smith as one of the best in the area.
During his visit, he spent time listening to the experiences of job-seekers and was keen to hear not only how the project was working but also how it could be improved.
He was particularly interested to hear five members of the team were former customers, giving them an empathic understanding of the fears faced by every person who walked through the door.
He said: “What’s going on it this office is exactly what I hoped for when I set up the Work Programme.
“These people really take pride in getting people into work.
“It must be a great thing to be able to go home at the end of the day and say ‘you know what, I just changed some one’s life and they’ll never be the same again.”