Top Tory front bencher Theresa May, the Shadow Secretary of State for work and pensions was in Eastleigh today.
The former Conservative party chairwoman and shadow minister for women – who had been instrumental in the drive to recruit more female candidates – was in Town at the invitation of Conservative PPC Maria Hutchings.
Having hit the headlines yesterday with her analysis of the government’s latest unemployment figures, it was perhaps appropriate that Mrs May should be meeting members of Eastleigh Job Club.
The Job Club started last year in response to the rising level of local unemployment which the council revealed this week has doubled during the recession.
The Club is open to all unemployed people and meets once a week at The Point. Although organised by the local Conservative Association it claims to be non political and receives sponsorship from Eastleigh law firm Knight Polson.
Yesterday Mrs May had declared that the government had ‘abandoned’ the long term unemployed and had “needlessly written off 700,000 people to a life on benefits.”
At the point today, she was able to meet some of Eastleigh’s own long term unemployed to learn firsthand of the difficulties they were experiencing in finding a job and how the Job Club was helping them.
Speaking afterwards she said she found the club offered:
“Very important opportunities for unemployed people through training in CV and interview technique and most crucially through raising, self esteem”
Several of members of the job club, who also met reporters, explained they attended the job club for a variety of reasons but mainly because the help on offer at DWP jobcentres was limited to only basic advice.
Mrs Hutchings said that while running on a very low level of funding the Club provided unique mix of training, ‘one-on-one’ advice and the kind of group support that local jobcentre’s simply couldn’t. She added:
“Essentially what the club does is to give people hope – the hope that they can overcome problems and find themselves a job.”