An innovative project, funded through the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s Sustainable Development Fund, to help unemployed people learn new skills and improve their chances of finding work was completed this week.
The “Better Access, Better Chances’ project was launched in March this year and provided free 10-week long training courses in bicycle repair and maintenance for unemployed or low skilled workers in the Cirencester area. As well as the practical element of the training, students learnt about map reading and created their own cycle route. Fourteen students successfully steered their way through the course, attaining their Cytech Level 1 Theory Certificate.
The project was established to enable those on the course to expand the area in which they could realistically search for work and provide a new set of skills in cycle maintenance. Within 4 weeks of starting the course one student, Bryan, found work and credited the course with helping achieve this. Bryan lives in Cirencester but found work in South Cerney. The early starts meant the bus was not an option so having a bike and the skills to maintain it made a significant difference to Bryan. So far six learners are now in employment and four others have accessed further courses with the Churn Project to help them with their job search. One student even has plans to start a mobile cycle repair business.
The scheme was run by the Cirencester based charity ‘The Churn Project’ with the help of a £9,000 grant from the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s Sustainable Development Fund. David Molloy, The Board’s Rural Skills and Grants Officer said ‘The Cotswolds Conservation Board is proud to have been a partner in the delivery of this fantastic project. The fact that the provision of this programme has already helped a number of students gain employment in the local area is a real success and credit must go to the students for their determination to achieve this’.
Jak Harrison, Project Officer for the Churn Project said ‘This funding has made a huge difference to all of the students who accessed the course. It has enabled them to not only gain the skills to maintain and service the bikes but also allowed them to apply for work outside of their immediate environment. The cycle route the students planned will enable anyone in the area to access the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for pleasure’.
The Cotswolds Conservation Board’s Sustainable Development Fund is a regional grants scheme, available to individuals, groups or businesses that have ideas or projects that will improve the Cotswolds both now and in the future. Grants of up to £13,000 area available. For more information visit www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk.
The Sustainable Development Fund is administered by the Cotswolds Conservation Board and supports projects that bring environmental, social and economic benefits to the Cotswolds AONB.
The Churn Project is a small, grassroots charity working alongside the people of Cirencester to improve quality of life and well-being. They were set up to support the communities of Watermoor, Chesterton and Beeches – areas of Cirencester with significant levels of deprivation and where around 65% of the total town population lives. Although these parts of the town remain the priority, their services and activities can be accessed by everyone living in Cirencester and it is estimate that around 7000 local people take advantage of these services every year. For more information about the Churn Project visit www.churnproject.org.uk
Cotswolds AONB factfile
The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk
Cotswolds Conservation Board, Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH
Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk