A team of 17 unemployed Luton volunteers have improved their prospects and a local green space by joining a course in Luton's Leagrave Park.
The volunteers came together for Green Skills, an employment training course run by community charity Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire, made possible by funding from London Luton Airport Limited.
For the past five weeks, the group has been learning practical skills and putting them to use in the park and the adjoining car park by the Source of the River Lea.
Their hard work has really paid off: they've built a sturdy new fence to protect the Wauluds Bank Scheduled Monument, improved access for local people with new paths and worked on the appearance of the Five Springs entrance to the park. On top of this practical experience, the volunteers have boosted their job prospects through a City & Guilds Award in Employability Skills and training for the CSCS test – the health and safety qualification that's crucial for work in the construction industry.
Community regeneration and housing solutions company Keepmoat also supported the project with a donation of £500 towards material costs and by providing a member of staff to sit on the mock interview panel that gave the volunteers real-world experience. On top of this, the company has also offered a work placement to one of the participants.
Project partners and the volunteers gathered to celebrate the completion of the project last Friday (25 November 2016) and the volunteers were praised for their work that will benefit the community well into the future.
Christian Iszchak, Groundwork's Community Project Officer, said: "Contrary to what some people think about those who are looking for work, this group is extremely hard-working, motivated, personable, and skilled. The work they've completed is proof of their qualities. They have a great appreciation of the value of their work to the community. As ever when working in Leagrave Park, we had lots of positive feedback from passers-by. I'd like to thank them as their comments have been very gratifying for the volunteers."
Cllr Andy Malcolm, Chair of London Luton Airport Limited, said: "We really value the support we get from the people of Luton, which is why we invest in courses such as this so Luton continues to thrive economically, as well as giving local people the opportunity to learn skills required for employment.
"I'd like to congratulate everyone on the Green Skills course for all of their hard work and improving Leagrave Park – as well as achieving their health and safety qualification. We hope to continue supporting projects like this as the benefits are clearly win-win for both the volunteers and the community."