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Highland Council praises huge success of HERO –Highland Employment Recruitment Offer scheme in Highland - as it celebrates getting 225 residents into employment

By Louise Glen

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Andrew is pictured with his manager Carol Elliot.
Andrew is pictured with his manager Carol Elliot.

The Highland Council is delighted with the success of its HERO scheme which is providing people with new job opportunities and making a real difference to the lives of many who previously were finding it hard to find employment.

Since it was launched on the 15 March 2021 HERO (Highland Employment Recruitment Offer), which is run by the Council’s Employability Team, has directly supported 225 residents into employment. 119 have been aged 25 years and over and 106 have been under 25 years.

HERO is funded by The Highland Council and the Scottish Government under the No One Left Behind and Young Person's Guarantee Funding Streams. It helps people of all work ages and with the greatest barriers to employment secure and stay in jobs.

Kayleigh is pictured with some of the hens she cares for.
Kayleigh is pictured with some of the hens she cares for.

In May the Economy and Infrastructure Committee approved an allocation of up to £1m over financial years 2021/22 and 2022/23 from the Economic Prosperity Fund to continue to enable the HERO grant scheme to support businesses to create new jobs for unemployed adults.

Chairman of the council’s Economic and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said: “It is heartening to see how so many people are being supported into work. You only need to read the case studies to find out the very positive impact being in meaningful employment is having on people. I want to thank the business community for taking this initiative onboard and working with our Employability Team to create the opportunities and my best wishes to all the people now in work. I hope they find the experience and the chance to learn new skills rewarding.”

Andrew Niven who now works with City Mobility is just one of the people who have benefited. He said: “I am enjoying my new role immensely and look forward to every day. The ability to help people with reduced mobility to find a way to experience more of their surroundings is the most enjoyable and rewarding part. I have received excellent in-house training at the showroom as well as product training from some of our suppliers.”

He added: “I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn about the mobility industry and to be an integral member of this wonderful team who are providing a fantastic service to the Highland community.”

Under the HERO scheme Mhairi Higginson of Traditional Poultry based by Fearn in Easter Ross took on Kayleigh Sands in June of this year. In the last six months Kayleigh has proved to be an invaluable member of staff.

Ms Higginson said: “The HERO scheme has been a lifeline for my business. We are the largest rare breed poultry/hatching eggs supplier in the Highlands, however as a result of Covid and Bird Flu, the business was at risk as we were struggling to cope with demand. I am delighted we found Kayleigh, who has the perfect gentle nature to work with the birds. It's easy to apply for and an asset for any business. We now plan a second employee in early 2022 through HERO. We highly recommend it.”

Kayleigh, who is 18 years old, has learnt lots of new skills since she started work looking after the hens. This includes sewing little towelling jackets for the birds as due to the “flockdown” they must be kept indoors until next Spring.

Speaking about her experience, Kayleigh said: “I made 50 little jackets in three days, the old hens and delicate frizzle hens seem to like their early Christmas presents!”. (NB frizzle is a type of bird that grows feathers out from the body and because of this it can't trap heat like a normal bird so are easily chilled)

Andrew and Kayleigh are just two of the people benefitting from the HERO scheme.

If you are a Highland business and are interested to find out more about how you can apply please visit www.highland.gov.uk/hero

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