Bridport’s Jobcentre located at 1 West Street may not be the most attractive building on the high street, but it is possibly one of the most important. Last Friday morning I visited the Bridport Jobcentre with Robert Muhl and Debbie Bond the Chair and Vice Chair of the Bridport Chamber of Commerce respectively, to find out what a present day Jobcentre does.
My last visit to a Jobcentre was some 50 years ago when I signed on as a student alongside my father who had been made redundant at the age of 60. The old Victorian building was as gloomy on the outside as it was on the inside. Poorly lit with dark brown walls everywhere and worn out seating where you sat awaiting your turn at one of the narrow booths with a glass screen and metal grill between you and the interviewing officer.
The exterior of the Bridport Jobcentre may be a brutal looking piece of modern concrete architecture on the outside but once you step inside it is a different world. It is nothing like the place I visited 50 years ago. It is light and spacious with open plan desks behind which sit people and welcome you with a smile rather than glower at you.
We met Di Shearing the Jobcentre Manager and Mickey Matthews, DWP Schools Advisor and what an eye opening meeting it was. Apart from what I am sure we all think of as the main function of a Jobcentre, helping people find a job, I was interested to learn about the sheer range of support that they offer. Three key facets were of particular interest, Career Guidance for young people, Apprenticeships and Disability.
The Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Act 2022 into force on 1
September 2022. The Act amends the existing duty, in Section 42A of the Education Act
1997, that requires maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units in
England to secure independent careers guidance to pupils in school years 8 to 13. The Jobcentre and Mikey are well placed and more than able to provide such support and they are actively looking at ways in which they can develop stronger links with schools at both primary and secondary level here in Bridport.
When I hear the word apprenticeship I think of young people embarking on their working life. How wrong could I be? Today anyone, at any age can embark on an apprenticeship but it is still the case that the majority of people doing so tend to be at the younger end of the spectrum. Apprenticeships are available at all levels through to degree. We discussed how apprenticeships can be delivered and the positive benefits to both the apprentice and the employer. The challenge now is to distribute this information as widely as possible in order to dispel outdated images of what apprenticeships are all about to employers large and small and potential apprentices.
In its 2017 Manifesto the government set a 10-year employment goal to break down barriers for people with disabilities and those with health conditions and to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce. The good news is that the latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) show the number of disabled people in employment has increased by 1.3 million since 2017. The bad news is that there is still a long way to go.
Disability covers a wide range of things. The definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010 is: ‘You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.’
Perceptions about disability and what people with disabilities are capable of are changing fast, thank goodness. The Paralympics, Strictly Come Dancing and numerous other high profile events showcase what people can do and not what they can’t and are changing how we perceive them. The video below makes this point beautifully.
Having a disability should not be a barrier to employment. Today employment law expects employers to make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs. This applies to all workers, including trainees, apprentices, contract workers and business partners.
Once again the Bridport Jobcentre is on the frontline in ensuring that local people with disabilities are given the opportunities they not only deserve but have a statutory right to. It is up to all of us, employers, employees and customers to recognise and embrace this.
In addition to support in finding work the Jobcentre is an excellent source of support with accessing the benefits system. Use the following links for benefits information and contact details; Universal Credit, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Personal Independence Allowance – PIP, Child Tax Credit, Carers Allowance, Budgeting Loan and Marriage Allowance
Other useful telephone numbers:
Bridport Jobcentre: 0800 169 0190
New Benefit Claims: 0800 055 6688 (Maternity Allowance, New Style Jobseekers and Employment Support Allowance:
Existing Benefit Claims: 0800 169 0310 (Jobseekers and Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit) :
Universal Credit: 0800 328 5644
WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS
We are all very aware of the escalating cost of energy to heat our homes, to cook our food, to wash and dry our clothes and run our vehicles. An additional consequence of the dramatic rise in energy costs is an equally significant rise in the cost of everything we purchase, whether it be our everyday food and other essential household items or the little luxuries we have been acustomed to treating ourselves to. Times are definitely harder than they were twelve months ago. But for some they are very much harder than for others.
The government has recognised the challenges being faced as a result of escalating energy costs by:
- Everyone’s energy bill will be cut by £400. This will be applied over six months, with a reduction of £66 in October and November, and £67 every month between December and March 2023. Some customers may receive the money directly into their bank account. The discount will be made automatically by energy suppliers in England, Scotland and Wales. There is no need to apply or to give any extra information.
- Winter Fuel Payment is an annual tax-free payment to help with heating costs. Most payments are made between November and December. If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. The amount you recieve includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’. This is between £150 and £300. You will only get this extra amount in winter 2022 to 2023. This is in addition to any Cost of Living Payment you get with your benefit or tax credits.
For many people struggling to make ends meet these payment will make a significant difference in their ability to manage over the coming winter months. But for others in a more fortunate healthy financial position these payments are of relatively little consequence in the big scheme of things. If you are one of those fortunate households perhaps you could consider donating part of your energy support payments to one of The Mayor’s Charites:
Bridport Youth and Community Centre – Youth Club Account
- Bank – Nat West
- Sort Code – 60-03-29
- Account No. – 791700331
- Bank – Nat West
- Sort Code – 60-30-03
- Account No – 29324246
You may be wondering why I have given you the bank details of my two charities rather than the usual Mayor’s Charity details. By doing this the charities will be able to claim Gift Aid which at 25% adds a significant amount to the value of your donation no mater how large or small.
WARM HUBS IN BRIDPORT
A number of Warm Hubs are now operating locally. Residents can drop-in to these warm venues throughout November, with further sessions planned for December and January.
In addition Bridport Library’s work areas and free Wi-Fi can also be accessed during usual library opening times.
This year’s Remembrance Parade was held on Sunday 13th November.
On what was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning a huge number of people turned out to watch the parade and take part in the Act of Remembrance beside the War Memorial in South Street.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to all involved in a very well received Remembrance Sunday event. Particular thanks to Claire Peters-Way, who has now organised three parades, each different from the others due to varying levels of Covid restrictions (at last, none this year!), and to Paul Violet for stepping in to cover as the Event Manager.
My thanks go out to the grounds team Sean, Ed, Paul S, Tim, Andrew, Paul F, Darryl H, and anyone else whom I didn’t spot today, for all of your preparatory work (some very early in the morning!), for controlling the traffic and the huge crowd, and for the perfectly timed maroons.
I would also like to thank the Macebearers Cyril and Frances, Deputy Lord Lieutenant George Streatfeild, Honorary Townspeople Roz Copson and Arthur Woodgate, Deputy Mayor Dave Bolwell, the Mayor’s escort cadets and scouts, my fellow councillors and consorts. A big thank you to all those who participated in the parade which included an outstanding array of very smartly dressed forces-related and community organisations, who marched to the sound of music played by the Wessex Military Band.
And finally my thanks go out to the new Parade Marshal Mike Brown and Parade Commander John Dean for their excellent management of the parade, Act of Remembrance, and wreath laying. Thank you Rev Pete Stone, Janis Moore, and Ann Ayling for leading the paryers during the Act of Remembrance and the church service afterwards.
BRIDPORT LITERARY FESTIVAL 2022
What a great success the Bridport Literary Festival 2022 has been. Back in its full glory once again with an amazing lineup of speakers. This year’s Literary Festival is a fantastic illustration of the way in which a small town in Dorset attracts some of the most interesting, innovative and creative writers working today.
Each of the sessions I was able to attend was a sellout, in fact tickets for almost all of the sessions had sold out within a couple of days of going on sale. Audiences were enthralled, educated and entertained in equal measure at all of them.
Apart from the big names like David Owen, Chris Patten, Alan Titchmarsh, Sheila Hancock, Melvyn Bragg, Maggi O’Farrell and Howard Davies, the festival is an opportunity to discover new and unfamiliar writers and learn first hand more about some fascinating topics from people who really know what they are writing and talking about.
How Tanya Bruce-Lockhart and her team manage to pull the whole week of events together is amazing and I know there are hundreds of local people who would like to thank them for all that they do in making the Bridport Literary Festival such a success.
You can find out more about this years festival by clicking HERE.
WEST BAY DISCOVERY CENTRE
West Bay Discovery Centre held an open morning on Thursday 17th November from 10am – 12noon to open the new West Bay Memories exhibition.
The exhibition uses photographs and stories that have been shared with the Centre by local people and visitors. Visiting the exhibition you are given a fascinating insight into West Bay’s past. Many of the exhibits enable an intimate peek into life in a bygone age through the photographs taken by ordinary people of the harbour, everyday life and events.
The Discovery Centre is otherwise open every weekend from 11am – 4pm.
To find out more about the Discovery Centre click HERE
CHRISTMAS CHEER – FESTIVE DOOR COMPETITION
Help spread festive cheer around the town by entering a new competition for The Most Festive Front Door!
Open to all residents in and around Bridport. A prize will be awarded to the home with the best festive front door by competition sponsors, Karen & Godfrey from Bridport Banners.
All you need to do to enter is send a photograph of your festive front door and email it with your name, address and a contact phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org Entries will need to be in ready to be judged on Tuesday 20th December. Good Luck.
I look forward to sharing images of some of the entries in a later Blog.
AND FINALLY – THIS WEEK’S MAGIC TENNER FOCUS
Whether it is a vintage or antique gift, an adrenalin filled climbing experience or some unusual gifts, block print and up cycled vintage sari clothing, antique tribal and new textiles and quirky gorgeousness this weeks Magic Tenner these three businesses really hit the mark.
Ruby in The Dust – St Michael’s Lane
Businesses working with or supplying: Galateria Beppino, Waste not Want not, Bridgets, Cafe Bean, Soulshine, Opal and more.
Rockburn – Priory Lane
Businesses working with or supplying: Footeprints, Baboo Gelato, Fruits of the Earth and more.
Sunbird – South Street
Businesses working with or supplying: Cafe Bean, Higos Insurance, Red Brick Café, Martin and co, Ian Black plumbing, Footeprints, Waste not want not and more.
My thanks to Will Austin, Neil barnes Tim Russ and Paul Violet for the images used in this Blog.