Phillip Bennion MEP has praised the ‘inspiring and effective’ training and environmental projects with young people run by Groundwork West Midlands after a visit to the charity’s HQ in Tipton.
On Friday September 6th, the Black Country Lib Dem MEP met regional director Jon Cotgreave and staff involved with a range of projects helping young people, some from very challenging backgrounds, to gain skills and confidence to join the labour market.
Phil Bennion, Employment Spokesman in the European Parliament, said:
“I was impressed by the range and quality of the work being carried out by Groundwork West Midlands, combining charitable endeavour with business success.
“They have been linking the best environmental practice and effective training in the heart of urban Britain for some years now.
"My brief in the European Parliament covers employment, where there is a cross-party push to promote training and apprenticeships and the most effective ways to engage young people from all backgrounds.
“It was inspiring to see how Groundwork initiatives are being used to help youngsters from the Black Country and also in Stoke. Some are from very difficult backgrounds who have been excluded from school."
Groundwork staff help to improve employability through an ‘alternative curriculum’ including functional skills in Maths and English, vocational training from horticulture to car maintenance and practical support in looking for work.
The charity are known for their innovative landscape design projects, working with business and local residents, but landscape now only makes up a sixth of what they offer.
Phil added: “I was particularly pleased to see Groundwork's commitment to working with youth clubs and social landlords on sport, personal development and help dealing with money management.
“I really like this model of social enterprise and I am keen to see it thrive.”
Jon Cotgreave, regional director for Groundwork West Midlands, said: "It is always good when someone in Philip's position is genuinely interested in our work. I feel pleased he has found the time to visit and see for himself the good work we are doing to improve the environment and local communities of the West Midlands."
Photo: From left Julie Read, Phil Bennion MEP, Regional Director Jon Cotgreave, Waheed Saleem, Kassie Woodier and Michelle Mansell in a training workshop at Groundwork’s Tipton HQ used to train youngsters in car maintenance.