Norfolk charity to teach unemployed construction skills

A Norfolk charity is hoping to lead the long-term unemployed back to work by teaching them traditional construction skills which are at risk of being lost.

The Benjamin Foundation, which supports some of the county's most vulnerable people, plans to run a six-week taster course on areas such as thatching, flint knapping, cobb building and traditional carpentry.

Open to over 18s who are not in education, employment or training, it will allow them to try out a range of skills in the hope that they will go on to find full-time training or work in the sector.

The pilot project is called Building Futures and will be funded by the Breakthrough Project, which is part of the East of England Disadvantaged Adults Pilot Programme.

Ian Jansens, Building Futures manager at the Benjamin Foundation, said: 'The traditional construction taster course will be a fantastic opportunity for people to learn from master craftsmen who are incredibly skilled in trades which are, sadly, at a risk of dying out.

'Norfolk is full of beautiful buildings constructed using these skills and so for people prepared to commit to learning a trade there is huge potential to gain long-term employment in the future.'

But he said the taster course would not just be about learning how to thatch. It also aims to help students build confidence, work on their literacy and numeracy, and improve their employability skills such as CV writing and interview techniques.

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Mr Jansens added: 'Our aim is for this six-week taster course to act as a very practical springboard to longer-term training or employment as well as getting people interested in traditional construction skills.'

The Benjamin Foundation wants to hear from traditional craftsmen who would be willing to get involved with Building Futures and pass on their knowledge and experience.

The project has been inspired by the North Walsham-based charity's own Benjamin's Building Company, which aims to address the shortfall of affordable housing in Norfolk and provide training and work opportunities for disadvantaged adults.

Anyone who would like one of the 20 places on the taster course – or craftsmen willing to share their knowledge – should contact Mr Jansens on 07584 500 725 or email ian.jansens@benjaminfoundation.co.uk before January 31.

Help is available to fill out application forms and transport to the training venue will be provided where possible.

Due to funding, priority for spaces may be given to people aged 18 to 25.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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