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Work & Pensions Secretary visits local horticulture training site

From left, David Hunter, CEO of Access Employment; Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey; and Hazel Bell, chair of Access Employment.

An innovative approach in the support given to vulnerable people looking for work will be key to UK Government plans for successful economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Work and Pensions Secretary.

During a two-day fact-finding visit to Northern Ireland, Dr Thérèse Coffey said the extraordinary circumstances arising from the global health emergency would require an agile response. Her trip included seeing how different social enterprises have tailored their work for vulnerable jobseekers.

Rounding off her stay with a visit to Access Employment, in Larne, the Secretary of State saw how the enterprise is helping people with a learning disability to develop their skills, experience and confidence to find a job.

This included a tour of its repackaging enterprise, Candyrush, which gives participants training and experience in things like stock control, warehousing and packaging, as well as Larne Community Allotments, which provides training in horticulture – growing fresh fruit and vegetables that can be sold through its garden centre shop and café.

“An innovative approach to how we support some of the most vulnerable people in our society is what we are going to need as we move out of this pandemic and beyond,” said Dr Coffey. “We know Britain has gone through a difficult time, and we’ll continue to be there to help people get back on their feet and into work again. Success stories like the ones here at Access Employment are what we want to replicate as we start to grow the economy and build back better.”

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