More key services which are helping to change the lives of Teessiders are now under one roof in the centre of Middlesbrough.
PeoplePlus, which was based in Stockton, has moved into Dundas House where the award-winning Live Well Centre opened three years ago to provide a one-stop shop supporting all aspects of healthy living.
PeoplePlus runs frontline public services on behalf of the government, including employment support, skills training, apprenticeships, independent living, and prison education. It also works with employers on recruitment, training and development and well-being.
Mark Beard, the regional skills manager for PeoplePlus, said the presence of The Live Well Centre and some of the services PeoplePlus already works with – such as The Prince’s Trust and Groundwork NE and Cumbria – was a big attraction, alongside the central location, the number of people who visit the Dundas Shopping Centre and the space available in Dundas House.
It has taken over the eighth floor, plans to increase its staff from 10 to 15 and is confident of further growth. PeoplePlus in Teesside currently engages with 200 customers per month and Mr Beard believes that number will grow to support his organisation’s mission to make a direct difference to the lives of 1 million people in the UK by 2022.
“We’ll be able to get the best for our customers with so many services under one roof,” he said and, just after moving into Dundas House, the proximity of The Live Well Centre was already proving to be a benefit.
He added: “Amongst other things we are a free recruitment service, so if a new retailer comes to the area – and is looking for 20 staff with the right qualifications – we can put a package together for them.”
One of PeoplePlus’ satisfied customers is Ryan Bell from Hartlepool. He came to PeoplePlus looking for a change of career.
“They definitely helped me. They put me on a course and got me through the interview. The company was already willing to take me on because PeoplePlus had screened me,” he said.
Ryan’s experience gave him the confidence to set up his own company, Quick Utilities, which less than a year after launching employs six people. He has also been able to say thanks for the help he received by providing PeoplePlus with rooms and computers for its employability courses.
PeoplePlus’ move has been welcomed by Kerry Melling, the manager of The Live Well Centre, which has services and facilities across five floors of Dundas House. “It’s absolutely fantastic to have such a renowned and likeminded organisation as PeoplePlus coming here,” she said. “Their presence can only benefit the collaborative working taking place to assist the residents of Middlesbrough, enhance an already vibrant Dundas Centre and contribute towards the town centre’s social regeneration.”
PeoplePlus’ arrival also marks a significant milestone for Dundas House, which fell empty when BT closed its call centre in 2011.
On behalf of Contract Experts Limited – which owns Dundas House and The Dundas Centre – Richard Wilson, a senior associate with chartered surveyors and property consultants Dodds Brown, said: “This is a major step forward in bringing back occupants to Dundas House. The presence of PeoplePlus and The Live Well Centre will provide the support people need in an accessible location.
“The Live Well Centre has already helped tens of thousands of people and, working so closely, together the two organisations will have a major positive impact on this area’s future.”
In its first 12 months The Live Well Centre had visits from more than 60,000 residents. It helped increase by 400% the number of people actively trying to quit smoking and its specialist advisers secured £220,000 of outstanding payments for benefit claimants.
In July it won a major national award for transforming the way health improvement and wellbeing services are delivered.