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Cake, care and community at Surrey Chapel Job Club 

Surrey Chapel’s Job Club in Norwich is starting an 8-week ‘Steps to Employment’ course in February.  Those who are looking for work are assured a friendly welcome with cake, camaraderie and a confidence building approach.  Network Norwich’s Jenny Seal visited the Job Club.  

A team of volunteers from Surrey Chapel, near Anglia Square in Norwich, have been running a Job Club, in partnership with Christians Against Poverty (CAP), on Tuesdays for just over a year.

On February 13 the Job Club is inviting people who are looking for work to come to a free, 8-week course called ‘Steps to Employment’.  The Job Club, which meets in an upstairs room at Surrey Chapel, is a friendly place where time is taken to support people in the process of finding work.

This will be the fourth CAP ‘Steps to Employment’ course that the Job Club has run.  As Dawn Arden, the Job Club Manager (pictured), talks about clients who have been helped by the course her eyes light up.  It is clear that she and the team really care for those who walk through the doors and are firmly on their side in the often difficult process of getting into work.

The course covers the practical side of seeking employment, from interview practice to looking at what makes a good CV, but it also tackles the more complex issues of motivation, identifying skills and strengths, and setting expectations.

Dawn explains: “We see people’s attitudes turn around because people respond when people have got time for them.  In one sense, we’ve got all the time in the world!  We’ve got time to listen – some people just need that to begin with.”

“For people who have been out of work for a long time, there are sometimes physical, sometimes emotional or mental problems to overcome. Although everybody’s overall need is a job, their individual needs are often quite different.  We identify that and then try to follow up on it.”

Talking about the course Dawn said: “I thought it was good material until I saw it in action and then I thought it was brilliant.  You see people flowering… they really do blossom!”

The course runs for eight weeks and on subsequent Tuesdays anyone is welcome to come along for ongoing support to find employment.

“Once the course is finished we say: ‘just keep coming’,” Dawn said. “We will work individually with them to help them put into practice what they’ve done.”

The Job Club has attracted people with a range of different backgrounds and needs, from those returning to work after looking after children, to those who have never had permanent work, and those looking for a job to get them through to retirement age.

One of the current clients, Luke, has had a range of temporary jobs in the past and undertakes a small amount of freelance gardening, but comes to the club for help seeking work in catering or retail.  “It gives me something to get up for in the morning,” he said. 

The course is set up to build community, tackling the loneliness and discouragement that unemployment can lead to.  The Job Club is open from 11am-2pm and begins with coffee and cake.  The group then finish by eating lunch together.

Dawn enthusiastically rattles off numerous examples of people who have found work after coming along to the Club.“It changes people’s lives getting a job, in more ways than you can imagine," she said. "It brings self-worth as much as anything else, as well as that wonderful feeling of being able to provide for your family.”

The next ‘Steps to Employment’ course begins on Tuesday, February 13, 11am-2pm and continues weekly.  The Job Club is open every Tuesday from 11am-2pm and anyone looking for work is welcome to drop in at any time during these hours.

Surrey Chapel Job Club, 2-6 Botolph Street, Norwich, NR3 1DU

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