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Community hub empowering more local residents with services boost

A COMMUNITY hub committed to providing life-changing skills to local residents has taken a huge step forward in expanding its services.

PPE - Positive People Empowerment - provides training and employment opportunities as well as mentoring opportunities to help those looking to develop their careers and personal business acumen.

Since launching in 2023, more than 20 young people have so far been supported with some gaining local employment whilst others have experienced real-life business insight.

PPE is now set to deliver training specifically related to sustainability following funding from Awards for All to develop a sustainable futures project - in partnership with The Spark Group.

Plus they will be renovating an unused community space following support from The Big Green Fund - an initiative by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which has awarded several grants to local communities to encourage making the City clean and green.

PPE Co-founder Paul Smith, who also owns recruitment firm Innov8 Agency, said: “We are so proud of the support and mentoring our project has delivered already. More than 20 young people have benefited greatly - with some gaining employment opportunities.

“Now, we’re so excited to be able to expand what we can offer by not only working with The Spark Group on devising climate change projects and other skills workshops, but also renovating a disused area near to our Weston Road base, in Meir thanks to the funding we have received.”

The Spark Group, who are based in Stoke-on-Trent, provide training focused on sustainability.

Founder Daniel Canavan said: “Both ourselves and PPE are very much aligned in the values and ambitions we have in raising awareness of more employment opportunities across North Staffordshire.

“We are working together to not only raise awareness of sustainability and green skills, but also to achieve net zero and helping more businesses to be aware of this.”

Paul and his team at PPE are actively encouraging people to get in touch to seek out the opportunities on offer.

We don’t just provide training, we actively support people on their own career journeys whether that be in guiding with CV writing, interview guidance or supporting budding entrepreneurs with their own business plans,” says Paul, who also owns recruitment company Innov8 Agency.

Two months ago Oliver Machin went along to PPE to boost his own personal and professional development.

The 18-year-old said: “PPE has given me access to a professional world I hadn’t had the opportunity to be in before. The sessions in videography and marketing, as well as the support, has given me real life opportunities and allowed me to grasp more about business in general.”

Johnathan Smith, Manager of PPE, said: “Oliver showed great commitment to everything he’s done with PPE, and it’s great to see how much he has benefited from his time with us. We’re now looking at ways to welcome Oliver as part of the marketing team, plus mentoring for his own plans in going forward.

“We would also like to connect with more local businesses so we can provide even more employment and experience opportunities.”

PPE received funding from the National Lottery Community fund for the initial two-year project.

Marketing executive Dhanashree Gharat, aged 28, is another PPE team member who received support from the community interest company.

“The training and support I’ve received from PPE has been phenomenal,” says Dhanashree.

“I’ve been able to really improve on my skills and have a lot better understanding of how business works - which will definitely help me in the future.”

PPE is also a member of the Black Business Network at the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

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