Drive for volunteers in the north east

The regional development agency for the north east has launched a £1.4m programme to get unemployed people volunteering.

Culture and sport organisations in the region have set up nine new projects specifically designed for unemployed people.

Pat Ritchie, assistant chief executive at One North East, said volunteering could help people back into work by building their skills and confidence.

She added: "We hope it'll be the stepping stone they need to move into employment."

She expects 1,300 unemployed people to volunteer. A spokeswoman for One North East said participation in the projects would be entirely optional.

Pauline Taylor, programme manager at The Culture Retreat, a £195,000 music project set up in April by the Tees Music Alliance as one of the nine pilot projects, said volunteers would be given workshops in music technology skills and careers advice from professional musicians.

Other organisations running pilot projects include Age Concern South Tyneside, North East Regional Museums Hub, Ouseburn Trust and North Tyneside Voluntary Organisations Development Agency.

Volunteers will be referred by Job Centres and the organisations running the projects.

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