WINCHESTER City Council has started work with a national agency to provide more help for jobseekers.

Sova, an employment mentoring service, will recruit and train volunteers to mentor jobseekers across Winchester as part of a county-wide employment push.

The agency is also looking for a full-time project manager to oversee the new volunteers.

The aim is to provide practical and moral support as well as basic advice to the unemployed.

Peter Bradley, area manager with Sova, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this commission by Winchester City Council and look forward to working with local volunteers and agencies to make a real difference to the lives of residents of the Winchester District.

“We know from long experience that providing one-to-one support is a very effective approach to dealing with barriers to work and sustainable employment. In an area like Winchester which has high levels of volunteering, I am sure that a mentoring scheme is the perfect way to forward.”

Cllr Robert Humby, leader of Winchester City Council, added: “The aim of this programme, which is funded initially for two years by Winchester City Council, is to reduce dependency on benefits and move jobseekers towards employment wherever practicable. There can be a number of barriers to employment and locally-recruited mentors will help to break down the barriers and help people back into work.”