TAUNTON Deane MP Rebecca Pow met with local constituents who are long term unemployed.

Ms Pow met jobseekers attending a specialist recruitment event with Somerset Care at Prospects, the employment, education and skills company delivering the government's Work Programme in the South West.

During her visit Tim Curtis, Prospects Team Leader, explained how Prospects supports people back into work, many of whom are returning to the job market after claiming employment support allowance, formerly incapacity benefit.

One major factor is helping jobseekers build their confidence, by appreciating their existing, transferrable skills and celebrating positive steps made towards future goals.

For many people who are currently claiming employment support allowance the prospect of full time work is daunting, and understanding there are supportive employers is vital. Somerset Care understands some recruits benefit from gradually increasing the hours worked, particularly jobseekers like Charlie, who Ms Pow met at the event.

Charlie, a single mum cares for her seven year old son and her own mum, grew up and still lives in Taunton. She joined Prospects after her son started school. Before claiming employment support allowance she was made redundant and had very low self-esteem and anxiety.

Charlie spoke to staff from Somerset Care at the event who helped her realise that because of her existing care commitments she had lots of transferable skills.

Jo Leigh from Somerset Care’s Realise service, which supports adults with learning disabilities said: “Charlie has the caring skills we need, when I asked why she looks after her own mum Charlie told me it was because she ‘wants it to be done right’.

"Care requires commitment and understanding, which Charlie clearly has, so we want her to join our team.”

During Ms Pow's visit to the Prospects Somerset Care event six people completed the first stage of the recruitment process and, if successful, will be attending interviews shortly.

Overall Prospects have supported 78 people back into work since the start of the year, almost a third of those supported by the Work Programme in Somerset.

Ms Pow said: “I was pleased to visit Prospects in Taunton which is clocking up an excellent record in getting the long-term unemployed back into work.

"It's all about building confidence and opening up the right opportunities for people who then genuinely discover that they are better off in work.”

Rebecca Pow and Prospects plan to work together on future volunteer projects benefitting residents and visitors to Taunton. To find out more about the work Prospects does to help get the south west working contact www.prospects.co.uk or http://www.gettingthesouthwestworking.co.uk/.