An organisation which helps disadvantaged people back into secure, sustainable employment has marked its 10th year in business by announcing further plans to grow.
Northern Rights was launched in 2012 by Katherine Murray and Dawn Brown, who had for many years worked together delivering Government-led employment support programmes.
The duo decided to set up their own organisation, specifically aimed at disadvantaged people who had faced physical, mental and social health challenges which had prevented them from entering or remaining in employment, because they felt the existing models weren’t fit for purpose.
Initially based out of one of the most deprived areas in the region, East Durham, Dawn and Katherine invested their own personal savings and launched with just one member of staff.
Today, they employ 63 people and have plans to recruit at least a further 10 people during the course of 2022.
Katherine said: “Our journey since launching 10 years ago has been quite remarkable and it’s only when we sit back and look at everything we’ve achieved that we realise how far we’ve come.
“The growth of our organisation has been significant, however what’s even more rewarding is when we hear from the people we’ve helped over the years who, thanks to the support they’ve had from Northern Rights, are now in secure employment, in jobs they genuinely enjoy but never thought was possible.”
Dawn Brown added: “We have all worked extremely hard to compete and succeed in the welfare to work sector dominated by the financial might of national and multinational corporations.
“Through our localised model, which has been developed by people with a real understanding of our local communities, we can offer appropriate levels of support to the people who need it most, ensuring the vast majority of individuals leave Northern Rights in a stronger position and achieving their full potential, whether that be into sustainable employment, with enhanced skills or generally a greater confidence to live an independent life.”
From its offices in Sunderland, South Shields and Peterlee, Northern Rights offers one-to-one and group support in areas including basic skills improvement, CV building, confidence building and interview technique training.
One person they’ve helped back into employment is 64-year-old grandmother Maureen Bagley from South Shields. She said: “I never thought I’d work again but thanks to Northern Rights I am now employed as a part-time cleaner and I love it. Working keeps me in a routine, especially since I became a widow four years ago.
“I cannot praise the team at Northern Rights enough. They were very good with me, really nice and made me feel very relaxed.”
Another beneficiary of the Northern Rights support programme is Michael Bell, 36, from Fellgate. A bi-polar sufferer, he had struggled to remain in work and knew finding the right job was key to him living a normal life.
He said: “When I came to see Northern Rights, it was clear they got me, they understood where I was coming from and really listened to what I had to say.
“I was very low on confidence and needed help to build myself back up. The assistance Northern Rights gave me was invaluable and I cannot emphasise enough, if you are struggling to find employment, come and see the team here. They are brilliant.”
Michael is now working at the Clarion Hotel in Boldon.
Northern Rights also works with a number of high-profile businesses and organisations including Gentoo, South Tyneside Homes, the Department for Work and Pensions, and Sunderland, South Tyneside, and County Durham local authorities.
Katherine added: “Having achieved so much in our first 10 years, our mission now is to be recognised as the best welfare to work organisation in the North East, delivering outcomes in excess of other organisations and one that people want to work with as they know we will improve their life chances.
“We love what we do and know we do make a genuine difference to the people who come through our doors.”