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Young people gain new skills as UKSE funds outdoor environmental school project

Young people from a special school are being helped into employment by gaining practical work experience thanks to support from business lender UKSE.

Eight students aged between 16 and 18 from Abbey Hill School and College in Stoke on Trent are learning skills which they will be able to take into a working environment through the project run by environmental charity Groundwork West Midlands and funded by UKSE.

The business loans specialist, which works with companies across the West Midlands from its regional base in Cannock, is supporting Groundwork to enable the school group to help maintain an area at a country park to develop skills from practical experiences.

The pupils will complete six weekly sessions at Silverdale Country Park, near Newcastle under Lyme, where they will undertake a range of activities including pathway repairs, wildlife surveying, dry stone wall building and bramble cutting.

Sessions are being run by Groundwork community project officers and park rangers with the aim of providing students with an increased knowledge of the environment and practical skills to manage outdoor spaces which they can use in the workplace.

Providing strategic loan and equity packages of up to £1m to generate growth, create local job opportunities and bolster the economy, UKSE’s local team was recently set up to support SMEs across Staffordshire and other areas.

UKSE regional executive Mike Lowe and area manager Steve Grice visited the group as they worked during one of the sessions, joining in with some of the tasks to see how their support was being used.

Mike Lowe commented:

“UKSE’s mission is to help businesses to grow and prosper for the benefit of the community throughout the West Midlands and the partnership with Groundwork supports this ethos.

“We are looking forward to seeing the benefits of the project, not only from an environmental perspective but also to support the career paths of the young people involved.”

UKSE is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Steel UK Limited with a mission to enable and encourage businesses and the people behind them to create jobs, grow and prosper, within communities affected by current or historic changes in the steel industry and its jobs.

Located on the former Silverdale Colliery, Silverdale is an 83-hectare park owned by the Land Trust and managed by Groundwork West Midlands.

Groundwork land and environment manager Melissa Underwood said:

“We love to provide opportunities for young people to get out into the countryside and enjoy our fantastic open spaces through our longstanding partnerships with schools.

“Working with UKSE is invaluable as it allows us to make projects like this happen and engage with as many young people as possible while giving them skills for the future.”

Darren Greensmith, vocational pathways manager at Abbey Hill School and College, said:

“Without funding from partners like UKSE it would not be possible for groups like ours to take up the opportunity to be part of projects like this so it is great to see our young people engaged in tasks and projects where they can make a positive difference.

“Partnering with Groundwork creates a realistic working environment for our students to apply their learning from college, building experience which will grow their confidence and develop their skills for the workplace.”

To find out more about UKSE visit: www.ukse.co.uk

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