JET was established in February 2002 originally to provide supplementary learning to Pakistani and Bangladeshi young people. This work was done in direct collaboration with the local secondary schools. It soon became clear that there were many needs amongst our local Community which were not being met. The Trustees at the time (2006) decided that we should put together a Business Plan of Substance and a Development Strategy with professional support. That is exactly what we did with a major development grant of £15,000 from the Adventure Capital Fund.
The area in which we operate covers three main wards (Normanton, Arboretum and Sinfin) in a total area of 1254 hectares. The total population has grown from approximately 30,000 in 2007 to over 50,000 in 2014. This increase has largely been created by the arrival of 8000 Eastern Europeans from the A8 Accession Countries over a five year period (2007-2012). In our area of benefit there are now over 180 nationalities represented and we are seeing new arrivals from the Arab Spring Countries, Africa, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The largest Community remains White British but that is closely followed by 15000 Asians and over 10000 Eastern Europeans (with an estimated 4000 being Roma). These changing demographics have created challenges around community cohesion.
As the number of local residents grow the needs of our Community increase proportionately. As part of our capital development strategy we had recognised that we needed to enlarge our facility to meet this ever increasing demand. Between 2007 and 2011 we upgraded our original building (the JET Training Centre), we converted an old ballroom into a Conference Hall, 3 meetings rooms, two offices and a training kitchen (the JET Conference Centre) and we transformed a derelict garage into a Youth Resource Centre with 4 large training rooms. Coincidentally we started to pursue a low cost human resource strategy which would enable us to cope properly with ever increasing numbers of clients from different countries. We took on multi-cultural volunteers and apprentices. We recruited community representative individuals some on full time and some on a part-time basis. By 2012 we were already speaking 16 languages within the JET Centre!
JET continues to deliver supplementary learning but do so much more. For adults we provide welfare benefits advice, ESOL, literacy and numeracy, accredited training, workplace skills, IT capabilities, financial independence, informal training, seminars and workshops on health and fitness, a twice weekly work-club and educational visits. For young people we provide job related experiences, interview techniques, self-confidence and self-esteem, leadership courses, speaking and listening programmes, community activist opportunities, educational visits, teamwork and experiential activities. We work closely with local Agencies and City Wide Institutions. We have representatives on local Neighbourhood Boards and Forums. We host Community Organisers as they bring the hardest to reach closer to JET. We host Community Events on a regular basis and continued consultation is a vital part of our everyday work. We continue to promote our activities through our Newsletter, through posters and mailers, by word of mouth and by way of a permanent PR Campaign.
As at 2014, JET is one of the largest stand-alone facilities in the area. The Charity has a well-established and well recognised track record for helping people into work and for providing placements and volunteering opportunities. It has a history of repeat funding from national and local providers on the basis of the achievement of outcomes and milestones. The fact remains however that there is much more to do and JET will continue to rigorously pursue its core purpose to ‘reduce social deprivation, to deliver jobs education and training and to improve prosperity throughout the Community’.