FROM the ashes of a collapsed national skills training charity has risen a new support programme in the central Borders.

And the recently-founded Works+ is already helping 13 young adults on the road to employment or further training.

Works+ was set up following the closure of Tomorrow’s People by three of its former employees who were unwilling to stop the essential support they gave to local 16- to 24-year-olds.

After turning to Business Gateway Scottish Borders for advice, Mark Timmins, Scott Wight and Grant Pringle, with guidance from a board of trustees, secured funding from Inspiring Scotland to launch last month.

Mark, from Galashiels, told us: “Five years ago, Tomorrow’s People secured funding to help young people living in rural areas who faced barriers to employment get the skills and confidence needed to enter the job market.

"That work was essential, so when the charity closed with no warning earlier this year we were not only left in the same situation as the young people we supported – unemployed - we immediately knew we had to find a way to continue offering support.

“Because I’d benefited from Business Gateway’s expertise previously, I got in touch with my adviser, Annie Watt, as we had no idea how to set up a charitable organisation.

"She helped us with our business plan and put us in touch with various organisations, including The Bridge whose legal advice and help with our constitution and charitable application was essential."

Currently 13 young adults are benefitting from the Works+ 10-week support programme that aims to increase their confidence and arm them with the skills needed to enter employment, further education or training.

A further seven youngsters have been supported with their CVs, college applications or been signposted to other organisations for assistance.

Grant, who is from Innerleithen, said: “Lots of young people go to interviews and don’t know what’s on the other side – we help demystify the process for them.

"We work with local employers who provide placements and volunteering opportunities that allow young people to grow in confidence.

"Because our programme is 10-weeks, we are able to build trust and can help sort out some of the issues they face, from mental health problems to homelessness.

"Increased confidence can help young people sustain employment, education and training and once they have completed our course we track them for a year, providing follow-up support at any time.”

During the 10-week programme trainees are asked to set themselves a number of small goals – from arriving on time to being comfortable sitting with others to eat lunch.

They then gain employability skills including how to write their own CV and covering letter, how to look for a job and write an effective job application.

And then learn interview skills.

Scott added: “We often bump into the young people we helped through Tomorrow’s People in the supermarket, they are either working there or are their spending their earnings.

"One young man came to us thinking he would never get a job due to his autism but we helped him get into college and he went on to do his degree and is now studying for his masters.

"Seeing the young people we have helped thrive is a great feeling, and we are so happy to be able to continue the work we began with Tomorrow’s People through our own organisation, Works+.”

Business Gateway Borders is delighted to have helped the training trio pick up from where they left off with Tomorrow's People.

Annie Watt from Business Gateway explained: “We are delighted that Mark, Grant and Scott have successfully launched their own charitable organisation that gives local youngsters a range of support they cannot find anywhere else.

"Setting up in the third sector can feel like a monumental task at times.

As well having to secure and retain funding you have to meet business, social or environmental objectives. Structures to manage, communicate, monitor and report to a large number of stakeholders are also needed. By working with us, and by tapping into our knowledge, expertise and connections, we were able to help Works+ access the specialist knowledge and skills it needed to get started.

"In particular, introducing them to The Bridge, who hosted the organisation until their charitable status was approved, helped ensure there was no real gap in service provision and it gave them the confidence to get started quickly.”