Sweet taste of success for Derby Employment Hub

Published: 27 October 2020

Hazem Khadra

Hazem Khadra, owner of Damascus Rose Sweets

A Derby sweet maker has achieved his ambition of selling his tasty creations to the public thanks to the support of Derby City Council’s Employment Hub.

The Derby Employment Hub only opened in March, to support residents who have specific challenges when it comes to finding work, and despite the restrictions placed on its work by the current pandemic, it has already helped a significant number of participants back in to employment.

The Hub is now engaging with employers who, by providing mock interviews and sharing their sector expertise, are inspiring and further building the confidence of the Hub’s clients.

Hazem Khadra, who makes traditional Arab sweets with a distinctly modern twist, is one local resident who has benefitted and is now using the skills he learnt in Syria to run his own business in Derby.

A Hub advisor helped him with different aspects of setting up his business and he has since been signposted to the Growth Hub for further support.  He opened his virtual shop on Instagram this month. 

Hazem said:

 I could not have done it without them. I’ve only been in this country for two years, so it was more difficult for me to know where to even begin to start my own business. I know how to make sweets and the Hub have helped me with the rest. My advisor kept in touch with me by phone and email and was always there to answer my questions. She taught me everything, from where to source my ingredients, to registering and running a business. English is my second language but this has not stopped me from starting over again and being my own boss.

He is not alone in taking the plunge into self-employment, the hub has worked with other residents who have taken the same decision or used their transferrable skills to change careers. Areas where individuals have obtained employment or self-employment include, IT construction, retail, engineering and in the care sector.

The Hub offers personalised one-to-one support, from preparing for work, to writing a job application or CV. They will also provide information on work experience opportunities and apprenticeships, along with training in basic and digital skills and ESOL lessons to support eligible non-English speakers.

Councillor Evonne Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said:

“Since its launch, the Hub has supported a high number of our residents who were long-term unemployed, economically inactive, or have been affected by the economic consequences of Covid-19, and in the process they have transformed lives.

“Now more than ever we need them, to guide people who are facing difficult choices because they have been affected by the pandemic. Building on their success, to date, I know they can meet this challenge and get Derbyians back to work. I would also urge local employers to get involved so we can assist them with finding new staff and creating more diverse workplaces.”

The Derby Employment Hub is part of Way2Work a D2N2 project set up to deliver a new range of support activities for unemployed residents aged 16 and over.

The Way2Work project is part-funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund.

Find out how the Hub can help and get in touch with them here.

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