County Durham teenagers are benefitting from a new initiative designed to tackle anti-social behaviour and bridge the gap between academic qualifications and the workplace.
Young people from the Peterlee area are gaining valuable social skills, training and work experience as part of the Sliding Door Project.
The initiative is a partnership between Durham County Council’s building and facilities maintenance service, East Durham College and Durham Constabulary’s Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team. It provides five students, aged 14 to 16, who have been struggling to engage with mainstream education, with a chance to succeed through an alternative education programme.
All of the students have come into contact with the police, who are supporting the project as a way of actively steering the young people away from behaviours that may lead to criminality and supporting them to make positive changes in their lives.
The project’s young people are gaining construction industry experience by working on Durham County Council’s refurbishment of Peterlee Leisure Centre and Library.
Paul Burr, Durham County Council’s building and facilities maintenance manager, said: “The Sliding Doors Project gives these young people a fantastic opportunity to learn a wide variety of building construction skills, such as plastering, painting and joinery. Our site manager Les Todd and the construction team have been very impressed by the students’ passion and willingness to learn. We hope that the experience will inspire them to work towards the required qualifications for a future career in construction, either with Durham County Council or another employer.”
Greg Cocoran, from East Durham College’s Engage Programme, said: “The Sliding Door Project is a fantastic opportunity for these young people to learn about the world of work and the requirements to gain an apprenticeship or paid work. We are really proud of them and their ongoing efforts taking part in this project.”
Students from Sliding Door Project met with the HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, who was visiting Peterlee to learn about youth provision and partnership working in the area, and spoke about their enthusiasm for the project. Student Cameron Baines said: “The work at the leisure centre has been great and I look forward to learning something new each time I come here”.