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Church leaders to help jobless find work

Church leaders are turning their hands to job-hunting to try to ease the burden for families who have reached crisis point. The Faith Community Outreach Programme aims to “give people hope when they need it most”.

The unemployed are being encouraged to seek the help of clergy within the familiar church environment rather than suffering in silence.

Church leaders will then work closely with the jobless to help them find employment based on their skills and experience.

The new initiative “to get people back to work” was unveiled yesterday by the faith community and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The Government reached out to churches to ask them to act as the ‘go-betweens' to help people find suitable jobs.

Unemployment has been described as an “incessant” problem throughout church congregations as more people look for work in a shrinking job market.

Church leaders will pass on the names and qualifications of the jobless to the Department of Labour and Training. Churches will also offer support sessions such as resumé writing, filling out application forms, dressing for interviews and how to keep a job. Spiritual counselling will also be provided.

Bishop Vernon Lambe, of the First Church of God, in Pembroke, said enormous strains were placed on families as they no longer had the economic resources they were used to.

He said: “The struggles of our families makes this a very serious issue. Families are in crisis, people are frightened; they have reached places of despair.

“This isn't just about our congregations, it's about saving our communities. We need to turn things around…We all have to play a little part in helping families survive.”

When asked how widespread unemployment was within his congregation, Bishop Lambe said: “It's incessant in the sense that not only every week but every day within that week we get phone calls at all hours of the day and night.”

Reverend Charly Franks from the First Baptist Church in Devonshire said in just two months he had seen seven people made unemployed within his congregation of 120.

He said: “These are people who have been employed consistently then for the first time they find themselves looking for a job.

“They haven't had to put together a resume for 15 or 20 years and there is more and more uncertainty about their future.

“This is a new reality for so many people.”

Reverend Paul Richards of the Church of Christ in Devonshire said: “We are all coming together to try to help those in the community who are so much in need of employment.

“We want to take advantage of trying to strengthen the family unit.”

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kim Wilson said this was taking private-public partnerships “to a whole new level” as it was a “win-win situation for everyone”.

Mrs Wilson said: “By partnering with the churches, this Government is doing its best to ensure that we are taking a holistic approach to assist persons affected by job loss.

“The churches are right there in the various neighbourhoods and they understand the needs of the people in each of their communities.

“We believe that the churches are well-positioned to effectively provide the kind of incremental support services that would be of value.”

Mrs Wilson said Government's main objective during the tough economic times was to sustain employment levels. She added that it was vital to “stick together during these challenging times for the good of all Bermuda”.

l Employment training and counselling is held at the Church of Christ at Brighton Hill, Devonshire, on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, from 11am to 1pm. The First Church of God on North Shore Road, Pembroke, also offers free clothing, job placement and counselling from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Keeping the faith: A cross-section of church leaders came together to support Minister Kim Wilson and the new Faith community Outreach Programme. Pictured left to right, Minister Paul Richards, Rev Charly Franks, Bishop Vernon Lambe and Minister Kim Wilson.

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Published March 24, 2011 at 9:59 am (Updated March 24, 2011 at 9:59 am)

Church leaders to help jobless find work

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