Flower beds project brightens employment prospects

An initiative to bring a splash of summer colour to Bernicia housing estates and retirement properties will also help employment opportunities flower.

Bernicia’s estates services team has launched the scheme focusing on creating and planting flower beds across the North East to create gateways into housing estates.

Colourful hanging baskets are also being put in place outside our retirement properties – with Bedlington’s Stead Lane North estate and supported homes at Hatfield Chase the first to benefit.

Bernicia has been in discussion with Northumberland CVA and its Bridge Northumberland project to help increase resources over the summer to maximise the work that can be delivered.

As part of this, Bernicia will be offering six work experience placements lasting up to six weeks for volunteers working alongside our estates services team.

Joe Jackson, Bernicia Estate Services Team leader, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for placements to gain real experience in the type of work carried out by our teams.

“We are looking to brighten up the local environment for residents and we thought we’d take the opportunity to work with the Bridge Northumberland employability project to help people aged 16 and over who are out of work, to overcome barriers into training and employment.

“It will give these volunteers an invaluable opportunity to work alongside our estate services operatives, to learn from them and develop their skills and self-confidence to improve their chances of future employment.”

Northumberland CVA (Northumberland Community Voluntary Action) is a charity providing information, advice, training and support to volunteers and local voluntary community groups.

Caroline Burden, Bridge Northumberland project co-ordinator, was one of four volunteers who helped Bernicia staff turn over ground and plant marigolds, pansies and mimulus at Stead Lane – Lisa Wackett, Paul Robinson and Sheena Straughan also rolling up their sleeves to make sure the job was done. (pictured above)

“This is a great opportunity to promote the benefits of volunteering not only to the volunteer but to people and communities,” she said.

“Bernicia approached us about this project and we thought it was a great idea – what better way of promoting volunteering than by seeing volunteers out in the community working?”

Bernicia is also using the project to support BBC Countryfile’s ‘Plant Britain’ initiative – a two-year nationwide challenge to get people planting in areas where they live, big or small, to contribute to tackling climate change while increasing well-being and wildlife.