Fringe Box



Millmead Views: Getting Guildford People Back to Work

Published on: 28 Apr, 2012
Updated on: 15 May, 2012

Our third contributor to Millmead Views is Nikki Nelson Smith, Conservative councillor for the Christchurch ward. Here she gives her opinion on the problem of unemployment, a problem even here in prosperous Guildford.

Getting Guildford People Back to Work

Nikki Nelson-Smith

by Nikki Nelson-Smith

GBC Cllr for Christchurch Ward

Views as to whether the economy is now recovering (very gently) or falling back into recession differ. What is definite is that the economic uncertainty leads to companies shelving investment plans and trying to cut costs rather than increase sales. The result of this is that unemployment is likely to continue to remain high for some months yet.

Despite Guildford being a prosperous town, its residents are affected. They have seen the shutting of public sector offices GOSE and SEEDA, and the moving of some of Surrey County Council offices out of Guildford. In the private sector, there have been shop closures and job cuts in some of its key companies. In addition, many people commute into London or the surrounding big towns and they too have felt the impact.

The number of reported unemployed in Guildford is lower than the actual number out of work because Guildford is an affluent area and people are exempt from claiming if they have significant savings or if their spouse is earning well. But many of them are actively seeking work nevertheless.

Although many people seek work in traditional ways – applying to ads in the press or online, getting help from recruitment consultants or the job centre – for others, finding people in a similar situation spurs them on and this is how the Guildford Job Club came into being.

Guildford Job Club sees people from all walks of life and all ages. They have come from many different occupations – project managers, IT contractors, accountants, linguists, PAs, just to name a few. Understandably, membership turnover is high. The Job Club, despite its name, is not just a social, directionless club. On the contrary, every term, there is a structured 10-week programme taken by a professional facilitator that teaches its members everything from how to write CVs and the most effective ways to use social media, through to how to interview. It handholds people through the practical and emotional pitfalls of job seeking. The members’ skills are shared and many guest speakers are invited in too.

The Job Club’s greatest achievement in my opinion is to give the personal touch; to make people who attend realise that there are others like them and to help them regain their confidence in a friendly and supportive environment.

However, others might cite its statistics of getting people back into work every month, or the fact that it is viewed as a model that other job clubs have now followed as greater achievements.

The Job Club is a great example of what the government are now calling “localism”. The club members help each other, local business leaders sometimes take sessions or offer interview practice, the borough council is supportive (it has given a grant and offers tickets to networking events), and it has a number of sponsors. Nevertheless, more help would be gratefully accepted.

I am a member of its management team and I full of admiration for its founders Chris Stanton and Richard Fox. They have expanded the Job Club over the last few months to include work clubs in Westborough and Stoke and a social enterprise The Guildford Bike Project and are now trying to set up a Job Pub. So if you are looking for a job, why not drop in?  Alternatively, if you have a job and feel that you could spare some time to share your skill-set or know-how, the members would be pleased to hear from you. Volunteers are always welcome so please, just drop in!

For further information, please contact Chris Stanton on 07989 712752 or at

Or Click here for Guildford Job Club Info Sheet

Share This Post