An award-winning personal development and employment support service is moving its head office from Peterlee to South Shields Business Works to house its expanding team, following several local and national contract awards.

Directors Katherine Murray and Dawn Brown established Northern Rights advice service in 2012 within the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Peterlee and have since grown to 50 members of staff working across sites in South Tyneside, Sunderland and East Durham. Having outgrown its current space in Peterlee and two years of rapid growth, the organisation which primarily supports disadvantaged people into work is moving its head office to South Tyneside and bringing all of its services under one roof at South Shields Business Works.

Northern Rights holds several contracts for the North East, including South Tyneside. These include two DWP national programmes; the Work and Health Programme, helping people who are further away from work and have health problems or disability, and JETS, a programme responding to COVID-19 redundancies assisting people who are newly unemployed to move into work. Northern Rights also delivers two ESF programmes A19, and Under One Roof, in partnership with South Tyneside Homes, Gentoo and Zenith to support any unemployed person irrespective of whether they receive welfare benefits or not to progress towards employment.

Northern Rights success has been achieved through its localised approach, using knowledge, experience and strong relationships with the voluntary and community sector, local authorities in the region and the North East LEP to make the implementation of national contracts better and more appropriate for the North East.

From free confidential benefits advice, supported referrals to appropriate specialists, financial support, internal and external training and job searching Northern Rights offers a job brokerage and free recruitment service for local employers matching people and vacancies.

Skills training is also a growing area for Northern Rights.  Commissioned by South Tyneside Council and Sunderland College Northern Rights delivers a blend of classroom and remote home learning.  From short sessions in confidence building and improving self-efficacy to beginners’ digital sessions, Northern Rights also offers accredited qualifications in English, Maths and IT assisting the newly unemployed gain the skills they need to find work.

Katherine Murray, director and co-founder at Northern Rights said: “We deliver most of our support on a one-to-one basis. We aim to have everything under one roof so that people don’t have to travel to multiple sites. Our new premises within South Shields Business Works will help us achieve that goal while providing us with the space we need to provide face-to-face services in a COVID-safe way.

“The Business Investment Team at South Tyneside Council have been invaluable in helping us to find suitable serviced office accommodation. We needed to double our premises size and with the new COVID-19 restrictions this meant quadrupling the space we had. In addition to being spacious, the offices are very reasonable and the central location – close to the South Shields Metro station means that we are easy to get to and easy to find.  We are already embedded in the community in South Tyneside and are really excited about the move and the prospect of being able to help even more people from our new location.

Cllr John Anglin, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy at South Tyneside Council, said: “It is fantastic news that Northern Rights is expanding its operations in South Tyneside to provide a valuable range of support to our residents during these difficult times.

“We’re delighted to welcome Northern Rights to larger premises and to see the company establish its HQ here at South Shields Business Works.”