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Unemployed urged not to give up

Vulnerable people across Shropshire who face barriers to employment are being urged not to give up hope and to seek support from a leading charity to help turn their lives around.

That was the message from former drug addict and ex-prisoner Steve Wyatt, who gave an inspirational and emotional talk at the opening of the Building Shropshire Summer Jobs Fair at Shrewsbury Prison.

The event was organised by award-winning supported employment and training charity Landau to bring employers and job seekers together to help lower unemployment rates across the county and help businesses build back stronger from the pandemic.

Steve, who now runs his own successful business and has a partnership with Shropshire-based celebrity furniture restorer Jay Blades, spoke openly to business leaders about his 22-year addiction to drugs and how he changed his life for the better after reaching out for help and discovering his passion for furniture restoration.

“For me, furniture saved my life. We all have our struggles whether it be addiction, mental health or something else but finding a passion is key. I knew what I wanted to do and if other people can find their passion with the support of employers and businesses then it will save lives.”

Landau, which won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2021 for promoting opportunity through social mobility, works alongside its partners with some of the region's most vulnerable people, including ex-offenders, offering support and skills training to get them back into sustainable jobs.

More than 30 businesses exhibited at the jobs fair under the roof of Shrewsbury’s iconic prison and dozens of job seekers were in attendance.

Exhibitors covered a range of industry sectors including care, construction, retail and hospitality and there were more than 500 vacancies on offer.

Phil Taylor, chief operating officer for Landau, said: “The jobs fair has been another huge success in the Building Shropshire campaign, and we are delighted that we have been able to support job seekers with their next career move and support businesses which have been facing recruitment challenges.

“It is not always easy to know where to turn but here in Shropshire support is available for people and our employment advisors at Landau are always on hand to offer advice to individuals, put them in touch with the right organisations and help them to achieve the skills they need to get back into employment.

“We are also very fortunate to have a connected business sector in Shropshire with lots of opportunities and we are working with many employers in the area to ensure diversity in the workplace is at the top of their agenda, making it easier for more vulnerable people to gain sustainable employment."

The Building Shropshire project was launched by Landau earlier this year in partnership with Shropshire Council to support employers and job seekers across the county to build back stronger from the pandemic.

Pictured: Phil Taylor (chief operating officer for Landau) and speaker Steve Wyatt