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Drop-in sessions help customers build up careers

28 Nov 2023
Thirteen Group And ACL team

A partnership between housing provider Thirteen Group and Middlesbrough College Group’s Adult & Community Learning Centre is helping people in the local community to build up their careers.

Representatives from the Learning Centre are holding weekly drop-in sessions at Thirteen Group’s Touchpoint stores in Middlesbrough and Stockton where people can find out more about their courses that can lead to jobs in a wide range of different sectors.

The sessions, which are aimed at people using Thirteen Group services, could lead to people finding work in industries such as catering, construction and renewable energy and working for companies such as Amazon.

Karen Woodland, head of community learning and outreach at the Adult & Community Learning Centre, explained: “The idea stemmed from a meeting we had with Thirteen Group where we realised that their customers are also our customers.

“Thirteen run an employability service and people can access face to face support in their stores. It made sense for our team to get involved and to bring additional employment and training opportunities which we can offer to those people.”

The Adult & Community Learning Centre helps more than 800 people a year access learning and skills which enable them to get into employment or which lead directly into a job at the end of the course.

The Centre works with a variety of different employers to ensure that the courses it offers will give companies and organisations access to people with the right skills for the vacancies they have.

Over 60 per cent of those who attend the Centre’s courses go directly into employment at the end of the course with a further 18 per cent going on to Further Education as they pursue their career goals.

Karen explained: “We offer a lot of support services as well, so if people are struggling with finances, we can refer them to a food bank and all our learners get free bus passes to help them access the courses.

“It can be daunting for people who may not have been in education for 20 years or more to go back so we look to help them break down those barriers.”

While it is still early days for the Thirteen Group partnership, those responsible for putting it together are optimistic about the effect it can have.

Karen said: “It’s fantastic to work with an organisation like Thirteen who are so closely allied with the same goals and the same mindset to make lives better for people who need some help and a step up.”

Thirteen’s employability service provides a range of free support for their customers and the wider public across the Tees Valley. Last year, they helped more than 1,100 people, supporting those who are not in employment, education, or training, as well as anyone looking for a new job or change in career.

Adele McLaren, head of touchpoints at Thirteen Group, said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Middlesbrough College’s Learning Centre. They are working closely with Thirteen’s employability team to bring our collective customers in Stockton, Middlesbrough and beyond, the best opportunities to help them into work and training.

“Our Touchpoint stores provide face to face customer service for our customers and by giving the college a base to hold their drop ins, we have seen a great addition to the services offered at our stores.”

The drop-in sessions take place every Tuesday morning at Thirteen’s Touchpoint store on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough and every Thursday morning at Thirteen’s Touchpoint store on Stockton High Street.

Further information on the Adult Learning & Community Centre can be found here. To find out more about Thirteen Group’s services, visit

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