A free County Durham employment project, that has already helped 25 people back on the road to work, is heading to Willington in search of its latest recruits.

The Stepping Stones to Employment project, led by County Durham Housing Group and The Auckland Project, is designed to boost confidence, develop new and transferrable skills and enhance employability in a fun and easy way.

After running successful courses in Coundon and Bishop Auckland, the programme has now shifted focus to Willington, starting on Thursday, 19 October. The 10-week course will be held at Dovedale Avenue Community Centre with sessions from 10am to 2.30pm.

The course, which is free to attend, focuses on improving self-confidence and interview skills, both of which have been identified as key barriers to re-entering employment after a period out of work.

More than 90% of those enrolled on the first course found either work or further education and training within weeks of completion, including one who is carving out a career with the prison service and another now employed as a swimming coach.

Emma Milgate, from Evenwood, has already completed Stepping Stones to Employment. She said: “I used to be a stay-at-home mum, ran my own business and was studying for a degree, but I had to give up the business for health reasons.

“I was looking for a short course and spotted an advert for Stepping Stones online. I’ve been able to update my skills, particularly maths. I’ve made life-long friends and the course has given me the confidence I needed to apply for jobs and go to interviews.

“It was really useful to attend a college open day and through Stepping Stones I’ve started an apprenticeship at The Auckland Project. In the future I’d like to apply to become a permanent member of the curatorial team at The Auckland Project.”

Enrolment for the Willington Stepping Stones to Employment programme is open now. The application deadline is Wednesday, 18 October. There are 15 places available, with everyone taking part being offered the chance to gain skills and qualifications in areas such as health and safety, first aid, food hygiene, event planning and computing.

Sean Robson, Community Training Coordinator at County Durham Housing Group, said: “Stepping Stones has been created specifically to help anyone who needs a little extra support, and more confidence, in their search for work. The sessions are packed full of really practical advice and skills that will improve interview techniques and give an advantage when applying for a job.

“The course has been very successful so far and we’re expecting lots of interest in the Willington programme.”

At the end of the Stepping Stones course, all participants will have the opportunity to use their new skills in a practice interview at regional charity The Auckland Project.

Alison Tweddle from The Auckland Project, said: “This course will provide the local community with the opportunity to enhance their skills, confidence and employability through a range of projects, learning and fun experiences.”

The Stepping Stones to Employment project is funded by NE Procurement. For more information, or to apply, please contact Sean Robson at County Durham Housing Group on 0191 349 7753 or training@cdhg.co.uk