Opus helps with the first step back to work
Tearing down barriers to help people who are out of work is the aim of a new initiative being led by Gwynedd Council.
The Council’s new Opus team, funded by the European Social Fund, through the Welsh Government, is helping to get people aged 25 and over who have been out of work for some time back into employment.
Anwen Davies, who manages the Opus project for Gwynedd Council said: “More often than not, it’s not that people don’t want to work, it’s that they have lost self-confidence, have been struggling to balance a number of barriers whilst searching for a job or feel they no longer have the skills needed to try for specific jobs.
“That’s why the practical skills and advice the Opus team can provide is so invaluable. From help about how to put together a CV, tips about interviews, helping to arrange volunteering and support to find suitable training, the team work with a range of partners to give people a boost on their journey back to work.”
Councillor Ioan Thomas, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Community Development added: “Since launching earlier this year, Gwynedd’s Opus team has received almost 300 referrals and is working with people across the county to provide practical help and support to ensure that they have the right skills needed for long-term employment.
“The support available includes one-to-one assistance to create individual plans and the team has been working with a range of partners to find training opportunities to improve skills as well as volunteering placements to gain practical experience.”
Building the confidence to go for it
One of those people who has received support through Gwynedd Council’s Opus team is Anthony Evans. Anthony, who lives in Caernarfon had been searching for work for some time before receiving help and support from Gwynedd’s Opus team.
After caring for an ill loved-one, Anthony had to suspend his studies and his search for employment. But after losing his mother, he was left homeless and with no job.
“It was a difficult situation and my priority in the short-term was to find a place to live before I could really look for employment,” said 29-year-old Anthony.
“But after finishing my post-graduate degree, I found it quite a struggle to find a job and it got quite disheartening after a while.”
After volunteering at the Storiel museum and art gallery for over a year he was very eager to find a permanent job. He said that the practical help in filling-in job applications was a real boost to him.
“I had a tendency to go overboard with job applications, but after discussing with the Opus team I prioritised what to include. The help I’ve received from them has been great, and it’s fantastic that there’s help available to people over the age of 25,” said Anthony.
Since September, Anthony has started a new job as a general assistant at the public library in Bangor.
“I’m really enjoying myself at the library. The self-confidence I developed with the Opus team was a real help and I’m really grateful for their support.”
Are you 25 or older? Not currently in work, education or training? Gwynedd’s Opus team may be able to help you back into work – for more details or to discuss with a member of Gwynedd’s Opus team, contact them by emailing Opus@gwynedd.llyw.cymru or call 01286 682 730 or come to our Open Day which is jointly held with Storiel, Bangor and other agencies on Friday, 19 January between 11am and 4pm.
PHOTOGRAPH: Anthony Evans at work in Bangor Library – who has received support from Gwynedd’s Opus team