The pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s livelihood, pushing thousands into challenging circumstances with job and income losses.
During lockdown residents and organisations worked together to form the Yaxley and Farcet Coronavirus Support Network, one of UK’s first hubs set up to support residents with shopping and prescription collections during the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnack Estates stepped in to provide the group with a premises on the Eagle Business Park in Yaxley from where the network is running its operations.
Now the team are looking forward to their new venture - offering help to jobseekers and individuals struggling to stay in long-term employment, and one member of the team knows all about the issues around times of crisis; Pete Bird has played a vital role in the success of the Big Issue and is the younger brother of magazine founder John.
Sharing details about the employment hub, Mr Bird said: “The Employment Hub will help people look for jobs. There’s also a big concern around food poverty so anyone coming through to the hub will get breakfast here and a hot lunch maybe.
"The Health and wellbeing of these people will also be taken into account. The key part is not to just find a job but to help them stay in employment."
He continued: “I have been working in this sector for years now with the Big Issue and from experience I can say, after six months of finding them a job, they will turn up at our door again because they didn't know how to cope or keep the job. So, we want to try and make this a sustainable process for them.
“We are working with an organisation called Clean Slate who look at budget and debt management that can play it's role as well. They will be contacting housing estate companies that can signpost families who need help to these groups."
Stewart Howe is also a key part of the network and he said: “The Covid crisis has highlighted the need for a space like this even more. We have seen a rise in food poverty and all through lockdown we tried to help struggling families.
“Pete and I were working on a concept called ‘Social Echo' where we want to create social training relationships with different sectors such as the council, public sector and private sector.
"We needed somewhere to operate out of because of the big demand we were trying to meet. So, Rob from Barnack Estates kindly gave us this space to tackle food poverty. This is a great example of voluntary sector working with private sector.
“We hope to create five more hubs in the north east - our aim is to deliver hubs across the UK that brings sectors to come together."
Apart from job applications, the hub will look at finer details for people looking at jobs including providing a work wardrobe for them, looking into transport facilities or offering them bikes. Although Stewart said this is something they might work alongside the district council with.
Stewart added: “We want to be a local hub where businesses can come to us looking for various skill sets. We have already started to engage with potential businesses who can offer various forms of support.
“We are also looking at the Kickstart Model and even investing in the apprenticeship scheme to be able to maximise the potential of the hub. We want to make this a long-term plan for the people who need help.
"The team is working with Huntingdonshire District Council and the Department of Work and Pension (DWP) on this new project and are in the process of finalising details ahead of its launch. "
Anyone wishing to get more information or offer their support to the campaign can do so by getting in touch through the Social Echo website.