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Kickstart job placement scheme – changing lives and benefiting businesses

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Kornelia Charkiewicz

A YOUNG woman from Carmarthenshire who spent up to four hours a day searching for employment has spoken of her delight at finally landing a job thanks to a new Kickstart scheme.

Kornelia Charkiewicz said her life was ‘stressful and frustrating’ spending hours a day trying for jobs which amounted to nothing.

But all that changed when she was put on the Kickstart scheme, run locally by Carmarthenshire County Council on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre.

Kornelia is now enjoying her new role as an administrator for local construction firm Morganstone.

The Kickstart scheme funds job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.

Local employers of any size can apply for funding to cover the cost of placements, training and employability support, National Insurance and pension contributions meaning the scheme is 100 per cent cost neutral to them.

Carmarthenshire County Council acts as the lead organisation for over 70 local employers.

It’s C4W+ (Communities for Work) team also works with eligible young people to help them gain work experience, write CVs and prepare them for job interviews.

“When I was fist told about Kickstart it sounded a bit too good to be true but when I was put into contact with them I honestly felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” said Kornelia.

“Life before was very stressful and frustrating. A typical day would include disappointment from the failure to get a response or interview from the day before, then spending three-four hours combing through job ads and filling out applications which would end with me getting an email back saying I was unsuccessful.

“This whole cycle lasted about a year and a half and it felt like my chances of actually getting an interview, much less a job, were nearly impossible.”

Kornelia was told about Kickstart by her local Jobcentre.

“It finally felt like someone was fighting in my corner – that help meant the world to me. Their help and encouragement never stopped, from the moment I first spoke to them to the moment I finally got my placement. They were always patient and willing to hear me out even if it was just to vent my frustrations on job hunting.”

She added: “One of the aspects which really helped was preparation for interviews – I’ve only ever had one interview so I felt a little overwhelmed, but thanks to the help of C4W+ I went on a course that was all about getting ready for employment and preparing for interviews. I was also able to do a mock interview with feedback from one of the mentors.

“This whole experience has made a massive difference to me. If not for this scheme I would most definitely still be looking for a job and feeling the negative emotions connected to it.

“Kickstart and C4W+ have really impacted my life in the best way possible and I will be forever grateful for the people I have met and the amazing opportunity I have been given.”

Kornelia’s placement employer Morganstone has also benefited from the Kickstart scheme.

Hannah Breen, Corporate Social Responsibility and Training Manager for Morganstone, said: “The future of construction lies with the generations to come but skills shortages have been a worry in the industry for many years. At Morganstone we’ve always had a passion for promoting the industry to young people and providing them with the skills and opportunities to succeed – they have so much to offer and due to the current climate many have been unable to realise their full potential, that’s why as a company we were so keen to be involved in the Kickstart scheme.

“Our Kickstart experience has been a great success already, it has allowed us to welcome great young talent into the organisation. We’d really like to thank Carmarthenshire County Council for guiding us through the Kickstart process and helping us in recruiting Kornelia – their support has been invaluable.

“Our team were so impressed with Kornelia. Right from her interview she was really enthusiastic and had a passion to succeed and make a difference. It has been great to see her grow in confidence over the past few weeks. She has fitted into the team so well and we’re excited to see how her career develops.”

Local employers and those aged 16-24 and looking for work can get information about the Kickstart scheme at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/kickstart

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What impact will digital media have on Welsh speaking rural communities?

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Cllr. Ann Davies, Cabinet Member for Communities and Rural Affairs, Carys Ifan - Director of Yr Egin, Wynfford James - Cymdeithas yr Iaith

At an open forum under the title Tynged yr Iaith (The Fate of the Language in Carmarthenshire): The Contribution of Digital Media on Saturday the 25th of September, Cymdeithas yr Iaith will bring together elected councilors and officers of the county council, chief officers of Yr Egin center and those developing online Welsh language content to discuss how digital media can benefit our communities.

Carmarthenshire County Council is due to publish its Digital Transformation Strategy. This will include funding specifically to develop the network. According to Cymdeithas yr Iaith, there will be new opportunities for rural communities but, to take advantage of these opportunities, specific steps need to be taken

A spokesperson for the Cymdeithas yr Iaith in Carmarthenshire said: “Digital media can strengthen rural Welsh-speaking communities in Carmarthenshire by enabling more people to find work locally and even work from home, and by broadening and enhancing the community culture and links between communities.

“The council’s digital strategy and Yr Egin in Carmarthen will provide opportunities, but we must plan to capitalise on the opportunities. In the past, it has been assumed that the development of better highways is sure to boost the economy, but they can just as easily attract commuters to work out of county and raise house prices Similarly, the development of “digital highways” could be used only by people moving into the county to work from home and further inflate house prices beyond the reach of local people – unless there are concrete steps in place for training, collaboration with the Education Department and the Careers Service, and projects for Yr Egin to work with the county’s local communities.

“There will be an opportunity for everyone to ask questions and be part of the discussion by sending us a zoom link”

As well as discussing infrastructure and connectivity there will also be a presentation on the concept of creating a digital Menter Iaith, to ensure that Welsh language material is available online.

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Psychological thriller from Carmarthenshire author draws on real experience with victims

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Killing Eve

John Nicholl’s new book Killing Evil features a child abuse survivor who takes revenge

Psychopath or agent of justice? John Nicholl’s compelling narrator in his new book Killing Evil is a victim of devastating childhood abuse who sets about hunting down and killing abusers. 

A cunning loner who uses her job in the probation service to find her victims, Alice Granger gives each her own “trial” and punishment – but as she continues with her mission, she descends further into darkness and her crimes become harder to comprehend.

Told through the killer’s eyes, the tale is dark and gripping, with a satisfying twist at the end. It asks important questions about the rehabilitation of offenders, the plight of victims and the dangers of taking justice into your own hands.

Like his previous 10 bestsellers, Nicholl’s book draws on his own experience in his previous roles in the police and child protection. 

In a long career that saw him start out as a police officer, move into social work and become a head of child protection services, Ferryside-based Nicholl experienced many harrowing cases. 

He was left with PTSD and started writing fiction after a psychologist recommended writing as a form of therapy.

John Nicholl. Image by Helen Oakes

Nicholl self-published his first book, White is the Coldest Colour, in 2015 It sold 150,000 copies on Amazon; this led to him getting signed by an agent and a publisher, and he has written prolifically ever since.

John Nicholl says:

“What I’m always trying to get across is the rage and the anger that survivors often feel – and it’s a rage that’s often shared by the professionals trying to protect them. I worked with so many people who had been through those sort of awful experiences – some even worse than what Alice goes through. There’s a lifelong effect from that. One thing which has surprised me is the number of people who messaged me after reading Killing Evil saying they went through similar experiences. I don’t think a lot of people realise how many predatory offenders there are out there. This is the first book I’ve written through the eyes of the killer. As with all my books, I hope people find it a gripping read, but also that it gets people thinking. It’s been surprising how people have said they sympathised with Alice and wanted her to get away with it until she crossed the line.”

What people are saying about Killing Evil:

“The master of the psychological thriller at his brilliant best.” Sarah Stuart – Award-winning author

“Ice cold, chilling and brilliant.” Goodreads

“This was a great, page-turning, intriguing book that I highly recommend.” Joyce Stewart Reviews

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Council launches campaign to recruit carers

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The council offers good rates of pay with full and part-time, permanent and temporary contracts available.

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has today (Monday September 20) launched a county-wide campaign to encourage more people into a career in social care.

The campaign, which focuses on real people in real situations, shines the spotlight on the council’s dedicated team of carers who deliver an outstanding service throughout the county and encourages others to consider a career in care.

Cllr Jane Tremlett, Cabinet Member for social care and health, said: “Our new recruitment campaign focuses on the type of person we are looking for to help us deliver a quality care service. We need positive, kind and caring individuals to join our team and help us to make a difference to service users in Carmarthenshire.

“We can offer support and training to those with no previous experience, but what we need most are people with a friendly nature and a positive attitude.”

Home and residential care vacancies are available throughout the county with full time and casual positions available.

As a carer, duties include providing personal care (bathing, dressing and other tasks), meal preparation and a range of other duties, to help promote independence where possible and to provide a good quality service to those in need. 

The council offers good rates of pay with full and part-time, permanent and temporary contracts available.

For more information on care job vacancies please e-mail SCRecruitment@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 01267 228703.

To apply or to read any job descriptions visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/jobs-socialcare

If you have worked within the care sector previously and would consider returning to work, please get in touch.

The council’s requirement to recruit additional care workers in both home and residential care roles mirrors shortages seen throughout the UK.

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