A CHARITY to help the jobless into work has hit the jackpot with a £150,000 Lottery grant.
And today bosses at South Tyneside Training and Enterprise Network (TEN) hailed the massive windfall.
They say it is crucial to help expand their service, and will boost their chances of getting people into work.
Chief executive Hazel McCallion, 53, said: “It’s fantastic news. I think the whole of Tyneside heard the screams when we found out.
“This money will really help us sustain our future and expand. It will strengthen us.”
The cash, which has come from the Big Lottery Fund, was the entire amount TEN had sought in its bid submitted last year.
It follows on from £400,000 of funding from the same source two years ago, which saved TEN from possible collapse.
Bosses say the organisation – founded in 1994, and which has a workforce of 10 – is now on a stable financial footing and planning for the future.
The cash will be used to extend its premises in Fowler Street, South Shields, and recruit three staff including a young persons’ advisor.
It will also pay to improve and expand the one-on-one help and support the group gives to jobseekers. Thousands have been helped into work or training through utilising its specialist local, regional and national job vacancy facilities.
Jobhunters are added to TEN’s extensive database and matched to jobs through various employment creation providers, including the Job Centre and private businesses.
But the organisation also helps the estimated 2,400 people on its books at any one time with training, CV preparation, post-employment support and interview techniques.
South Shields MP David Miliband, who has worked with TEN, welcomed the cash boost.
He said: “I’m delighted that this Lottery funding has been secured to enable it to continue its very valuable work. The team at TEN is committed to helping those seeking work, and I look forward to catching up with them again soon.”
TEN says one of its biggest challenges is helping young people find work in what it says remains a very active jobs market.
Bosses concede they would have struggled to deliver services at peak level without the extra funding.
Latest figures show there are 2,290 unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds in South Tyneside, meaning 15.7 per cent of people under 25 are claiming Jobseekers Allowance.
In all, 7,178 people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance last month, a fall of 49 compared with January.
Overall, South Tyneside remains a job blackspot, with 7.2 per cent of the working age population claiming benefit. That compares with 5.6 per cent in the North East as a whole and 4.1 per cent across Britain.
Added Mrs McCallion: “There has been about a 20 per cent increase in the past year in the number of people coming to us for help.
“To get this funding is acknowledgement that we are doing the right things. They know that we spent the last lot of money wisely, and did with it the things we said we would.”
In November TEN also won £62,725 from the Coalfields Regeneration Fund.
James Turner, of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We are only too aware of the increasing pressures facing organisations. This funding provides a lifeline to our grant-holders as they struggle to provide crucial services to thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged people.”