Black Country Impact warehouse link-up nets more than 100 jobs

More than 100 young people have been helped into work as the result of a fruitful partnership between Black Country Impact and wholesale and distribution giant AF Blakemore.

Black Country Impact offers help for 16 to 29-year-olds in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton who are currently not in employment, education or training. It officially started just under two years ago and has forged partnerships with more than 100 businesses or training providers, helping more than 6,000 people take a first foot on the employment ladder.

One of the biggest success stories to date has been BCI’s link up with AF Blakemore. The firm, which has headquarters in Willenhall, supplies stock for Spar stores across the country and employs more than 8,000 people nationwide.

The partnership has seen BCI offer four-day training programmes through its registered training provider, Staff Direct 4 U, to prepare young people for an interview with AF Blakemore. A two-week work trial follows that, with an offer of full-time employment if the candidate knuckles down and impresses.

To date, since the partnership started in March last year 111 young people from the Black Country have secured full-time jobs with Blakemore’s thanks to help from BCI, earning up to £12 an hour in the warehouse. Stephen Pilcher, 23, from Sedgley, said:

“I’ve been at Blakemore’s for 10 months now and have been able to move out into my own place. I’ve now got myself a passport and are looking forward to future holidays and starting my driving lessons. It’s changed my life, it really has.”

Support offered by Black Country Impact includes supplying equipment, as well as providing free clothing, travel, and childcare depending on the needs of the individual. The help and assistance provided is tailored to individual need and support is also available for those with disabilities, ex-offenders and the homeless.

Dudley Council leads on the delivery of the service in partnership with Sandwell Council, Walsall Council, Wolverhampton Council and Black Country Talent Match, a Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council project funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:

“This is a fantastic example of the work Black Country Impact is doing to get young people in our region into work.

“Through the relationships they have expertly built up with businesses and training providers, they can get a foot in the door for young people that they otherwise might not get.

“It’s partnership working at its very best, and it’s allowing a Black Country firm to give jobs and a first foot on the employment ladder to Black Country folk.”

The project is receiving up to £34 million of funding, made up of £17 million from the European Social Fund and £17 million from the Youth Employment Initiative. It will also get match funding of up to £8 million from the Big Lottery Fund and other partners.


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