A HOUSING association which provides homes across East Lancashire is making use of bold new strategies to tackle unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and is calling on the government to do similar.

Together Housing Group provides several employability support programmes through its charity Newground Together which aim to give tenants over 25 new skills.

Tenant Shannon Carter, from Rawtenstall who, having never worked before, received training to qualify as a production and warehouse operator after moving into one of the group's properties after her previous home was destroyed in a fire.

The 29-year-old single mother said: “I’ve always loved driving and looked into becoming an HGV driver but it would take me away for days at a time so I couldn’t do it with four kids.

“When I got a text message from Together Housing about the forklift truck training course, although it was something I’d never considered, it sounded exactly like the kind of thing I wanted to do.”

She added: “My mentor at Newground was very helpful and went above and beyond.

“With no relevant work experience, he encouraged me to put life experience on my CV, for example the fact I have been a carer for my dad for the last five years and as such have done a lot of driving to get his shopping and taking him to hospital appointments."

Newground Together believes that central government should be supporting similar programmes nationwide.

A letter signed by Together Housing Group among other housing and employment specialists published in the Sunday Times calls for an “opportunity guarantee” that promotes job creation, investment in employment support services and funding to ensure young people don’t miss out on opportunities during the expected downturn.

Newground Together director of community programmes Nic McGrath said: “It’s critical that the government has the importance of providing new opportunities and support for the employability sector in its sights.

“While devastating, Covid-19 has provided insights into new ways of working that will create new opportunities for those able to re-train or those entering the labour market.