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Bideford Library Work Club

Robbie Pearce and his partner Sarah Walpole both used the services of Work Club to help them into employment.

Robbie has a learning disability and was struggling to find work after being made redundant from a factory job he’d done for 15 years. Sarah also has a learning disability and had been out of the job market for many years.

Work Club conducted regular mock interviews with Sarah over a period of weeks, coaching her in the techniques needed to land a waitressing role – work she had done and enjoyed 20 years before.

Eventually her efforts paid off, and she gained a Supported Work Scheme role waitressing in the canteen of a woodwork factory in Bideford. Robbie then also expressed an interest in the Supported Work Scheme, run by the wonderful Barnstaple-based charity, Next Steps Development. Next Steps provide employment and training opportunities for individuals with multi-abilities and complex needs. Agriculture and Animal Welfare, Graphics and Media, Administration, Wood Joinery and carpentry, Hospitality and Cooking, and Life Skills. Work Club approached the factory and were successful in finding him a place.

Robbie said: ‘I’m very happy I signed up with work club, as they found me the right job for me in very little time. They also stayed in regular contact with me and Sarah during the lockdown.’

Libraries Unlimited Work Clubs support people trying to find jobs in Bideford, Barnstaple, and Torrington libraries throughout Devon and Torbay. Work Clubs in Tiverton and Tavistock libraries are in process of opening soon. The clubs are seeing a significant rise in the numbers of people seeking their services in the wake of the pandemic.

Iain Harris, Libraries Unlimited Work Club Coordinator, said: “There’s no doubt that there are extra challenges in finding work for people like Robbie and Sarah who have learning disabilities. But with the right support, as in this case, the opportunities are out there and the result can be life-changing. Robbie and Sarah were both feeling depressed and anxious about their situation, and it’s been great to see their self-esteem grow, alongside their financial independence.”

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.