Changing Lives is celebrating reaching an impressive milestone after placing its 800th person into employment.
Since 2010, the charity, which has its headquarters in the North East, has supported people facing a range of barriers to employment, including financial and mental health issues.
Its four regional services, Get Ahead (covering Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland), Moving on Tyne and Wear, Reaching Out Across Durham (ROAD) and Step Forward Tees Valley have placed people into a range of industries including retail, construction, professional services, education, hospitality and health.
Some of the region’s biggest companies including Greggs, Eldon Square, the NHS, several Councils and Proctor and Gamble have recruited the employees, aged between 17-65 and who are made up of 63% of men and 33% of women, with 4% preferring not to disclose a gender.
Angela Purvis, Employment Service Manager at Changing Lives, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have placed 800 people into employment, particularly given the employment landscape of recent years.
“Every single person we have supported into employment has thrived in the workplace and thoroughly deserves to have found paid employment.”
One such person, and the 800th of the project, is Emma, who was hired by The Range after successfully completing a six-week work experience placement.
Prior to gaining her first paid position, Emma had spent 15 years volunteering in the retail sector.
“Before coming to Step Forward Tees Valley I was volunteering but I was interested in getting paid work”, said Emma.
“I really wanted to work in a shop and am delighted to now be working at The Range, on the shop floor where I am responsible for pricing and keeping the displays tidy.
“Since being employed by The Range, I feel more confident and it felt good to get paid work, to have money in the bank at the end of my hard work.”
Cheryl Gooding, who supported Emma into her employment, added: “Emma gaining employment at the end of her work experience was a massive boost for her.
“I don’t think she thought she could do it but she obviously could and she’s really good at it.”
Find out more about Emma's experience in her own words by watching this video.