Minister promises to invite PM to see CatZero project in Hull for himself
THE Government's Work and Pensions Secretary has promised to invite the Prime Minister to visit Hull charity CatZero.
Iain Duncan Smith spoke about David Cameron's negative comments during a visit to the city yesterday after NHS Hull controversially spent £500,000 on a yacht to teach youngsters skills out at sea.
Mr Duncan Smith visited the organisation in Humber Dock Street, near Hull Marina, which is helping young people back into work.
Prime Minister David Cameron criticised the charity when it was set up four years ago but Mr Duncan Smith says he would invite Mr Cameron to Hull to see CatZero's achievements for himself.
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He said: "I would invite David Cameron to come up here.
"I love coming to projects like this. People have great ideas and we need to replicate them.
"If they are getting people ready for work, however it's being done, even by buying a yacht, then let that continue."
During his visit, Mr Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party, spoke to young entrepreneurs who have secured funding through CatZero to start up their own businesses. He also met those who have found work after completing courses with the charity.
He said he would like to see how CatZero could fit into the Government's Work Programme.
"It is difficult but there are jobs out there," he said. "Sometimes, the problems lie with young people who aren't capable of taking on those jobs, so programmes like this are incredibly important. Some kids have crashed out of the system, they're simply not at stage one where they are able to go to a job interview or even work at a computer.
"These are not big skills, they are life skills, and if someone is lacking in confidence to read or cannot write, nobody will take them on. These things need to be resolved early on."
He spoke to Holly Parkinson, 18, of east Hull, who joined the CatZero scheme at 16 after leaving school.
She said: "I was working in a restaurant but I was unhappy and wanted a career doing something else but I didn't have a lot of confidence.
"I thought the idea of sailing and learning skills with CatZero was great and I've absolutely loved being a part of it.
"Having completed the course, I re-wrote my CV, gained an apprenticeship and now I'm a recruitment consultant."
A number of young entrepreneurs have also taken part in enterprise programmes with CatZero and have been developing a range of business ideas, from making security gates to music video creation.
Alan Johnson, MP for Hull West and Hessle, said Mr Duncan Smith was "very interested" in CatZero and how it is helping to turn young people's lives around.
He said: "Although we have our political differences, I wanted him to come to see it and he's tremendously impressed, particularly meeting the young people who have been through it. You can't argue with the statistics.
"We have avenues we can pursue to make this project even more viable for the future and we want CatZero to be a pilot for other areas."
CatZero chairman Jim Dick said he thought the Secretary of State had listened to what they had to say and was "very supportive".
He said: "This will send back a very strong message to the Government that schemes like this do work."