Over 50s get chance of work experience

Peter WalshPeople over 50 who are not currently working are being given the chance to try out a range of rural jobs from brewing beer to beekeeping, making bread and grafting trees as part of a new six month scheme.Peter Walsh

People over 50 who are not currently working are being given the chance to try out a range of rural jobs from brewing beer to beekeeping, making bread and grafting trees as part of a new six month scheme.

Produced in Norfolk are behind the FORWARD project which is aimed at offering people the chance to build their confidence, and learn new skills, by getting work at a variety of different businesses across the county and north Suffolk.

In total there are 25 Produced in Norfolk members signed up to the project who will be involved in delivering training to applicants over the next six months.

Lakenham Creamery, based on Trafalgar Street, off Hall Road, in Norwich, is one of the businesses signed up to the initiative and is somewhere people could learn how to produce some of the firm's sought-after ice cream which was famously served to a young Prince Charles by the Queen Mother.

The creamery's office is based at the old Aldous family home where ice cream has been produced for decades since the company's humble beginnings on Norwich Market in the 1920s.

Today Lakenham Creamery is providing a sweet end to meals across the country thanks to a string of prestigious suppliers, including London's top department stores.

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Chris Coughlan, managing director of the creamery he bought in 1992, said: 'It's to give people who have been out of the work environment the confidence to get back into the work environment - some people might not have had the opportunity to work.

'We said, 'Sure, you can send someone along' and we will give them a taste of what's involved according to what interests the people might have, either working in food production or the office side of things.'

Mr Coughlan said he was pleased to be a part of the scheme, which is funded by the European Social Fund and supported by the Learning and Skills Council, and wanted to help give something back.

He said: 'We just think that they are doing a good thing so when they asked us we said we would be more than happy to help.

'We're not at this point looking to recruit any additional staff but we just thought it our civic duty - to do something to help the community. We're all part of the local community and if we can do a little bit to help then why not.'

Mr Coughlan said whether people were interested in helping in food production or the office side of the business, the key thing would be to pick up renewed confidence.

He said: 'It's quite difficult if people have not had or been involved with work for a period of time for whatever reason. It's a confidence building exercise. It's a bit like taking on youngsters on placement from school but doing that for people who are considerably older.'

Jane Miller, director of Produced in Norfolk, said: 'We're delighted to be able offer local people, free opportunities to try out what its like to be involved in the rural economy.'

Is your firm doing something good fro the community? Contact Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

Produced in Norfolk FORWARD project - how it works

The FORWARD project offers local people free opportunities to try out what it is like to be involved with the rural economy and in doing so gives opportunities for work experience and also provides craft workshops using a variety of media.

People wanting to take advantage of the work experience or workshops who need help with the cost of travel must not be economically active and although the scheme is aimed at those over 50 it is not exclusively for people of that age.

Craft training is five weeks of three hour sessions and work experience is a minimum of three half days.

Work experience opportunities available include: Brewing, catering bread making, pastry making, horticulture, recipe development, retail and office administration, digital photography, picture framing, IT, reception duties, animal husbandry.

Craft workshop opportunities include: Silk paper making, tile decoration, jewellery design and making, lamp making, lead work and stained glass, bead making, painting, printing, printed textiles, digital photography, IT, working with clay, hat dressing.

To apply or for more information call 01603 424102 or email info@producedinnorfolk.com