Great Yarmouth business connector gets second term to continue community projects

Trevor Edwards, Business in the Community.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Trevor Edwards, Business in the Community. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A civil servant charged with forging links between businesses and the community in Great Yarmouth has been granted a second year to continue his projects.

Business connector Trevor Edwards started his work in the town in November last year, and had projects including educational and social enterprise schemes on the go when he sought permission from his employer, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), to spend a second year in post.

His application was successful, and he now plans to delve deeper into the community to tackle its issues with social mobility, build better links between businesses and schools, and investigate the impact of the universal credit roll-out on the town.

Mr Edwards said: 'I wasn't certain I would get another year but my line manager has been very supportive.

'I've had a really good reception from people in the town. You have to pitch the value of what you are trying to do, but I pitch it on the needs of the business, on why it is good for businesses to be involved with social enterprise and support these ventures.'

His first year has included running workshops on mental health for primary and secondary school pupils in the borough, speaking to universal credit claimants and businesses about issues with the scheme, particularly around privately rented housing, and chairing the Great Yarmouth Dementia Action Alliance, which encourages businesses to make their workplaces and customer environments more dementia-friendly.

He will also be involved with the launch of a government programme in Norfolk, Ready for Work, which helps disadvantaged people into employment with work coaching and placements provided by businesses.

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'The last 12 months have opened my eyes to what the issues are, but if I can put links in the community between businesses and charities I will leave a bit of a legacy,' he said.

Business connectors, a scheme run by Business in the Community, are government employees seconded on to the role to work with businesses and community organisations in deprived areas of the UK.

Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Thetford were all assigned business connectors for one-year terms.

Mr Edwards' team leader Susanne Bell, head of dispute resolution working age and labour market decision making at the DWP, said: 'Having the opportunity to allow our talented people to be seconded to organisations that support our customers is an excellent way for us to build close working relationships.'

Ready for Work

Trevor Edwards and Norwich business connector Robin Tungate are set to be more heavily involved in the local employment scene with the launch of a new scheme.

Ready for Work, the flagship employment programme by Business in the Community, which runs the business connectors scheme, is designed to support some of society's most disadvantaged people to enter employment.

The scheme offers training, work placements and mentoring to participants – including ex-offenders, homeless people, care leavers and those with mental illnesses – which is provided by businesses.

The two Norfolk locations have been chosen to further roll out the scheme, which already operates in 16 cities in the UK and Ireland.

The Norwich launch will be at the Guildhall on Tuesday, November 28 at 6pm. The Great Yarmouth launch will be on Tuesday, December 5 at the Assembly Rooms at 1pm.