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Gloucestershire Business News

Royal British Legion on front line at job centre

Figures might well put Gloucestershire in an area with the highest employment rate in the county, but it has not stopped job centres innovating in the battle to help still more back into work.

Jobcentre Plus (JCP) in the city has recognised a need to do more to help former members of the nation's armed forces, and who better to assist than an organisation set up to do just that.

"The Royal British Legion now has a desk and from there they can help ex-armed forces people with support and training and finding work," said Di Haines, senior partnership manager for Gloucestershire and Somerset branch of the Department for Work and Pensions.

"In turn they are also helping to training our own counter staff and broaden their knowledge so they can be of more help to former members of the armed forces too."

"They are proving a great success in meeting the welfare needs of local veterans and serving personnel of the armed forces community.

"The numbers of footfall are increasing week on week and word of mouth of the Royal British Legion presence in Gloucester Jobcentre is having an effect in terms of the numbers of beneficiaries that are dropping into the outreach.

"Through these sessions the Royal British Legion has assisted numerous beneficiaries, helping them with welfare needs ranging from very simple assistance to helping those who have multiple and complex needs.

"The benefit of being in the JCP for Royal British Legion beneficiaries is that they can engage with them in a safe and confidential environment and they work closely with the Jobcentre Plus team, especially with Kevin Sherwood, the Jobcentre's Armed Forces specialist to deliver a joined-up approach in assisting people."

Other innovations include outreach work at the Gloucester Mission at the George Whitefield Centre on Great Western Road.

Staff from Jobcentre Plus attend every Tuesday afternoon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm to work with what is described as a "hard to reach group" in what is regarded as a "neutral venue".

Individuals have been helped to open Universal Credit accounts when their employment support allowances have ended and assisted others with personal independence claims and help moving them towards the world of work.

In Cheltenham on Tuesdays, between 2pm and 4pm, Jobcentre staff run sessions for customers with a health condition or disability, again to offer support with Universal Credit claims, advice from work coaches and providing access to computers and support with applications.

In Gloucestershire figures show 331,800 economically active people with 322,300 of them in employment. Some 269,100 of them are employed and 51,800 of them self-employed. Which leaves 9,600 unemployed - 2.9 per cent of the population.

A Royal British Legion Case Officer for Gloucestershire provides outreach support at a drop-in session at Gloucester Jobcentre, Spa Road, Gloucester GL1 1XL every Wednesday from 10am to 4pm. Any ex-armed forces personnel or partners are welcome to attend the drop-in sessions.

Contact Kevin Sherwood, telephone 01452 366078.

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