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HOMELESS TO BECOME LIVERPOOL TOURIST GUIDES

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Tourists in Liverpool could soon find themselves being guided round the city centre - by homeless people. ...
Tourists in Liverpool could soon find themselves being guided round the city centre - by homeless people.

The search is now on for ten homeless people to take part in a pioneering training scheme, which will see some of them employed as city centre Gold Zone 'navigators.'

Others will be given on the job training as recreation, sheltered housing and social care officers with the city council. And two will work in the offices of the Big Issue in the North.

The city council's award winning Positive Action Training team have already got together with the Big Issue in the North, given talks to homeless people, put posters and leaflets in hostels and approached homeless people on the street to find out what they think about the initiative.

Many said they wanted to work with other homeless people, in the leisure and recreation industry and IT.

The posts - which involve full time on and off the job training - will be advertised this week and recruits will start at the end of May. Big Issue in the North bosses say they hope other cities will follow Liverpool's lead.

Liverpool's executive member for community, equality and values, Marilyn Fielding said: 'The PAT team work incredibly hard to make sure they reach as many people in Liverpool as possible. In the past they have focussed on black and disabled people, and women, all of whom face barriers getting into work.

'We want to give homeless people the chance to become actively involved in the life of the city. Some of them may have been rough sleepers at one time - what better person to be a city centre guide. I'm sure this will also successfully disprove the stereotypical image some people may have of the homeless. Everyone deserves the same opportunities to get into training and work and I'm proud that the city council is helping give people this chance.'

Big Issue in the North's Laurence Lennon, who is head of regional employment, said: 'This is an excellent chance for vendors of Big Issue in the North, and other homeless people, to finally leave the street behind.

'Liverpool City Council and the Big Issue in the North are providing a high quality structured training programme what will provide participants with a springboard into permanent employment. They are taking a lead which we very much hope other cities will follow.'

There are many other training opportunities available with the PAT team, which specialises in helping groups who are under-represented in specific jobs. For example the city council has teamed up with Merseycare NHS Trust to provide nine posts in mental health for black and other minority racial groups.

Other examples of posts available include ones for women in building services and civil engineering, for black and other ethnic people in journalism, social care and probation, and for disabled people in marketing, environmental health and libraries.

Applications for all the posts are available from the city centre and Toxteth job centres, as well as the Jet centres (L8, Dovecot, Speke, Anfield and Norris Green). Help and advice is also available for people who may need it to complete a form.

NOTES

Liverpool's PAT team has won several national awards for its work, and has now launched a massive new training programme which will see more than 500 people taken on over the next few years. They have also been asked to advise other local authorities on how they can set up similar schemes. The training schemes, which are paid and involve around 35 hours a week of on the job and college training, are very successful - more than 80% of people leave with a job and qualifications.

The Big Issue in the North is part of the Big Life Company, established in April 2002. The Big Life Company gives people who have had a raw deal the chance to change their lives. It helps create wealth and opportunities for people who have been overlooked by mainstream employers.

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