A PIONEERING project in Bridgwater helping women back into work is set to be showcased on the BBC West Politics show.

Recently Peter Schofield, a Minister from the Department of Work and Pensions visited ‘Under Construction’ in Bridgwater to meet women being helped back into paid employment by a unique project called ‘100 Women First’.

The programme is due to be aired early March.

The project was the brainchild of Sedgemoor District Council’s employment, skills and training manager, Caroline Derrick, who wanted to redress the balance between pay for men and women across Sedgemoor.

Ali Porter, Somerset and Hinkley partnership manager with the DWP, explained how funding from the Department supported the project and Mr Schofield said he was excited to learn first-hand what was being achieved and how lives were being changed.

The project secured its funding just nine months ago but has already reached its goal of enrolling 100 unemployed or underemployed women; giving them the opportunity to share experiences, learn skills, access resources and build confidence.

Results speak for themselves with 30 women returning to paid employment so far, 10 of whom had started their own businesses or become self-employed.

Three ladies were interviewed for the programme: Rita Todd who is a dumper truck driver for Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd, Hannah Chaudhri who has set up her own business - Anada Health & Wellbeing, and Sharon Ham-Howes, a support worker at Discovery.

In the interviews, the clients said that the 100 Women First project had treated them as individuals and given them hope and a future.

They said they felt supported, confident and capable in returning to the world of work.

The project is run out of Under Construction, Sedgemoor’s Learning and Skills Centre and the programme has been designed by the women, consisting of practical and social sessions designed to improve their chances of gaining and retaining employment.