As Employability Day approaches, a scheme that helps people to learn new skills has welcomed two new partners on board.

L!NKCD was launched in July 2019, and brings together community-minded organisations and training providers to support people in County Durham who face obstacles to gaining employment.

Part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), the scheme is led by Durham County Council’s Employability Durham service and is delivered in partnership with the local authority’s housing solutions team, Karbon Homes, Livin Housing Ltd and Changing Lives.

More than 150 people are currently receiving assistance through the scheme and, after recruiting two more delivery partners, it is hoped this number will continue to grow.

Northern Learning Trust and Bernicia Homes will join the project next month and are recruiting new members of staff to act as mentors, providing employability support to their tenants in County Durham.

The announcement has been made ahead of Employability Day (Friday 26 June), a nationwide campaign to celebrate and promote employment support led by the Employment Related Services Association.

Aimed at fostering a sense of optimism and aspiration for the future, L!NKCD has a heavier focus on the exploration of ideas, training and volunteering than many other employability schemes. It is open to unemployed County Durham residents aged 18 and over and can be especially beneficial for those who do not feel ready for paid employment but are keen to explore the options available to them. One-to-one guidance is offered to identify and address barriers and promote wellbeing, while links are also made with other local organisations that can provide additional support.

Mentoring sessions are usually offered in community venues, but the team has adapted the way they work to ensure they comply with the government’s orders. This includes offering support via phone, email, video conferencing technology and social media.

Cllr Carl Marshall said: “We are delighted Northern Learning Trust and Bernicia Homes are joining us as partners on the L!NKCD scheme. With their experience, we will be able to help even more people in County Durham to overcome barriers, enter the workplace and improve their quality of life. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from the scheme, I would urge you to get in touch and find out more about the support on offer.”

Jeannie MacMillan, director of housing services at Bernicia Homes, said: “Bernicia and Northern Learning Trust have a long and successful history of working together to improve skills and education and provide employability support in local communities. We’re delighted to be invited to join the L!NKCD project and to have the opportunity to extend what we can offer into Durham.”

Gillian Smith, chief executive officer of Northern Learning Trust, said: “We are really looking forward to working with our friends at Bernicia and Employability Durham as part of the L!NKCD project. We are committed to providing inspirational learning opportunities that are tailored to suit each individual’s needs. We all face different challenges when it comes to learning and what makes the L!NKCD project so special is that it recognises this and focuses on overcoming barriers and building people’s self-esteem, as well as teaching new skills.”

L!NKCD is part funded by ESF as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.

For more information about the project, visit or contact the Employability Durham team on [email protected] or go to Employability Durham on Facebook.

Get Durham Magazine direct to your inbox

* indicates required


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here