Government praise for Cornwall awards

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The 2009 Cornwall Works WISE Awards – an annual celebration recognising excellence in employment and skills activity in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – have been praised by a Government minister.

The awards ceremony itself is timed to fit as closely as possible to Europe Day (May 9) to highlight the important role that the European Social Fund (at present through the ESF Convergence Programme) is playing in employment, skills and training and innovation across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Winners this year include a single mother of three, formerly unemployed, who is now a volunteer supporting workless people; a nationally acclaimed initiative to reduce poverty; a project to help those recovering from mental health problems by offering them work producing a magazine and a graduate who has helped a company grow by 350%.

Local Government Minister, Sadiq Khan, said: ”Every effort to help more people access the skills or jobs they need to their potential should be applauded. These awards do just that and shine an important spotlight on people across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who make it their daily purpose to make a positive difference to their communities and businesses, with the help of European funding.”

The second Cornwall Works WISE awards ceremony – jointly organised by Jobcentre Plus, the Learning and Skills Council and the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – took place today (Friday, May 8th) at the Watergate Bay Hotel. Keynote speaker was Sheelagh Keyse, national director of customer services for Jobcentre Plus.

It was introduced by Carleen Kelemen, director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, who said: “These awards celebrate those who have already been successful and it is the individuals’ stories that bring inspiration to us all. ESF Convergence offers us a huge opportunity to encourage many more people to make changes in their lives and be supported into work and training.”

Carolyn Webster, European programmes manager for Jobcentre Plus, said: “There has never been a more important time to maintain a focus on helping people to gain the skills and competencies they need to go into work, to stay in work and to progress in work. Even though we are in an economic downturn more people are moving from benefits into work than at this time last year in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. We should be proud of the positive difference that the delivery of employment and skills activity makes – a difference that was clearly demonstrated today through the stories of the WISE award winners.”

Mark Williams, skills development director for the Learning and Skills Council, said: “These awards demonstrate the breadth and depth of ESF investment in Cornwall and how customised support for individuals can make demonstrably significant contributions to both the lives of individuals and to the success of our businesses. The economic impact of these investments is considerable, producing a more flexible and highly skilled workforce capable of responding effectively to the changing dynamics of Cornwall’s economy. The individual examples demonstrated here today will motivate and inspire others to develop their skills and expertise, contributing to Cornwall’s future success.”

A special Lifetime Achievement Award was also awarded to Professor Keith Atkinson, a key player in the creation of the Combined Universities in Cornwall, who had been invited to the event to speak about how ESF can support innovation.