A COMMUNITY of Passionist priests is helping to combat the serious problems of unemployment in the north cast.
A workshop providing training for teenagers in metalwork, welding and woodwork was formally opened at Minsteracres monastery. near Consett. County Durham, last Friday. It has facilities for 63 young people and caters for those described as "less able" who have the most difficulty finding jobs.
The scheme is being funded by the Manpower Services Commis sion under its Youth Opportunities Programme. The commission is providing a grant of £70,000 for the current financial year. but, like all projects of its type. the scheme is expected to produce some revenue from its own work.
Although the workshop was only opened officially last week a training programme has been running since November. Teenagers are involved in making rustic furniture, in horticulture, and in forestry. One acre of ground is fast becoming a flourishing nursery. The forestry scheme is intended to provide raw materials for the other two activities. The groups of young people work at each activity in rotation.
Thirty-six people are currently benefitting directly from the workshop but it has the facilities to cater for about 63. The monastery is also involved in another jobs scheme called "project based work experience". Under this young people have been given work both within the monastery grounds and in local parishes.
Many of the monastery's outhouses have been refurbished and sales from woodwork and garden produce have provided an income for the projects.
The north-east is one of the areas worst hit by the current recession, with young people particularly severely affected. Minsteracres is the home of four Passionist priests and one brother. The Order bought the property in 1949.