Brighter Futures

Brighter Futures is a project we deliver to help you get back into training and employment.

We offer information, advice and guidance based on customers’ needs to help them on their journey into work by supporting them to increase their skills and knowledge; help them engage in education, training, voluntary work, improve their health and well being and to increase confidence and self-esteem. We want to make sure that any barriers to employment or training can be addressed so we can also get you help if you have financial concerns, housing issues or anything else that is preventing you get back into employment.

The significant changes that tenants and residents are now facing means that supporting people into employment and training opportunities and providing support for them to get into a job is really important.

There is a great local need in Derwentside for the project:

  • Worklessness level of 11.1% in Derwentside 
  • 78.6% of young people (16-24) not in employment 
  • 11% Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) 
  • High levels of multi generational disadvantage and unemployment 
  • 75% of our Tenants on full Housing Benefit 
  • Specific problems of debt, poor health, low educational attainment and youth crime / ASB- all of which are associated directly or indirectly with high levels of unemployment. 

The project went live in May 2012 and currently works with over 350 people helping them get a ‘Brighter Future’, you can read some of the case studies below.


Sara Monaghan

Sara Monaghan, 29 from Blackhill in Consett has also been studying an NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration following support from Brighter Futures. 

She had been unemployed for five years after doctors diagnosed her with fibromyalgia at the age of 23. Sara worked in sales at a computer repair shop prior to the diagnosis but has always been interested in business administration and hopes to secure work in a secretarial role or in a position as a PA. 

She said: “I’m enjoying all of it – it’s given me a massive confidence boost and I am confident I will now get back to work and get a job from it one day.”

Since March, Sara has been doing voluntary work as a receptionist at Derwentside Mind whilst studying part-time at The Louisa Centre in Stanley as well as being on Derwentside Homes’ scrutiny panel.

Lynne Stafford

Lynne, 47, who is married with four children from Stanley, worked in retail for almost three decades.  In 2009, she was diagnosed with Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), which restricts blood supply around the body. After having a seizure, she scratched her foot and contracted septicaemia which required an above the knee amputation to get rid of the life-threatening infection.

Although her disability put her out of work, it has not let that deter her and has successfully passed a series of courses including maths, English and ITQ Level 3.  Lynne will also complete her NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration next month, which she enrolled through the Brighter Futures programme.  She has also enrolled on a two year Foundation Degree in Business Management at New College Durham and is a key member of Derwentside Homes’ scrutiny panel, which looks at how the organisation can improve services.

She said, “After losing my leg a lot of people thought I couldn’t go back to work or go to college to learn new things.

“The Brighter Futures programme has given me a new perspective on life and I’d like to see where it goes.  The courses have kick-started my brain again, I’ve really got into it and enjoy it so much.”

Marrie Taylor

Marrie from Esh Winning in Durham was left devastated earlier this year when she lost her job as a manager with a local catering company – and shortly afterwards her husband Jim also found himself out of work due to an injury he sustained at work.

The couple, who have worked all their lives, were struggling to make ends meet and were left with huge financial worries about being able to pay their rent to their landlord Derwentside Homes and other outgoing costs. However, they were given a lifeline when they were referred to Derwentside’s Brighter Futures project.

Through the project, Marrie has now secured a new job at the Greenhouse Restaurant at Lanchester Nurseries. And she has also taken the first steps to setting up her own outside catering company – Tasty Bites Buffets.

Mum-of-three Marrie, 46, said: “I was at such a low when I lost my job in May. In 2013, I gave up the job I had for seven years in order to take on this new role, so to have been laid off after such a short time was devastating.  Then for Jim to lose his job with the ambulance service couldn’t have come at a worse time – it was a double whammy.

“We had a visit from a Derwentside housing officer to discuss how they could help us through the short-term difficulties we were experiencing and they suggested we could benefit from Brighter Futures.

“The one-on-one advice we had from the service was fantastic. The advisor went through everything from improving my CV to interview techniques and preparing myself for work. But crucially they were able to help with the job search and they advised me on the availability of the Job at Lanchester.

“They also gave me the confidence to set up the Catering Company and the belief that I could do it. I am taking it slowly at the moment but its great having the reassurance of knowing that I have a Job and can build the business up when I am not working there. We’re running it from home for now and have had a few small jobs but eventually I hope to get my own premises, and continue advertising and really concentrate on securing long term contracts whilst also offering employment opportunities’ for local people.”

Daryl Snaith

Brighter Futures has helped 24-year old Daryl Snaith, from Consett, to secure an 18-month apprenticeship with local firm Williamson Joinery having been out of work since leaving school at 16.

Daryl spent six months working for Derwentside’s SHED project which provides help to local long-term unemployed people to get back into work. When his placement finished, Daryl was then given employability support and help with searching for a job through the Brighter Futures project.

Daryl said: “The combination of work experience with SHED and support from Brighter Futures made a real difference to my prospects. It increased my skills and confidence and set me on the path to an apprenticeship. Working in joinery is all I’ve ever wanted to do and every day I am learning the skills and knowledge which will set me up in a career for life.

“I’d like to thank Derwentside for their help in helping me out of long-term unemployment and into paid work.”