Published: 10:40, 19 December 2019
| Updated: 11:15, 19 December 2019
A centre helping jobseekers find work has closed after the council stopped running the service.
The Employ Medway facility in Chatham town centre shut its doors this week as changes are made to the scheme, which will now move into new digs.
Medway Council had managed the government-funded Work and Health Programme under contract from the Shaw Trust - a charity employed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to deliver the service.
It supports some 166 people in the Towns who have been out of work for more than two years, or those with health complications and disabilities, find work and remain in a job.
The Shaw Trust - contracted to run the service across Kent from the government until November 2024 - will now take control back and continue to run the service.
Under the changes, no spaces will be lost and all those currently receiving support will continue to do so.
The Employ Medway Advice Centre building located at 99 High Street closed yesterday - 10 years after opening in November 2009.
But the Shaw Trust says it is planning to open two new centres to support residents in places suitable to everyone's needs.
Staff work with partner agencies and businesses to ensure their 11,500 clients in the Midlands, South East and west London are supported to help improve their lives and "move into sustainable employment".
The trust works with another 2,900 people to settle into their new job.
Out of the 166 currently registered in Medway, 18 are in work and receiving ongoing support.
Medway Council says the programme was not financially viable "in its current format" at the advice centre.
Employ Medway staff will be retrained and transferred, others have found new employment but no redundancies are expected, the council confirmed.
Jacqueline Rule from Shaw Trust said: “We will continue delivery of the Work and Health Programme following the decision made by Medway Council.
"We will integrate the management of the contract with our experienced team who oversee the Work and Health Programme in the area.
"Most participants will retain the same support manager and we will speak to each person about locations to ensure a smooth transition."
The centre will be formally handed back to the owners on Monday.
Medway Council's assistant director of physical and cultural regeneration Dawn Hudd said: “Whilst we are saddened to close the Employ Medway Advice Centre in Chatham we are proud of the impact it has had over the last 10 years.
"We have helped more than 2,150 people into employment and we remain committed to supporting residents. We will continue to work closely with Shaw Trust to ensure that residents receive support and advice.”
Find out more on the Employ Medway scheme and the Shaw Trust programme here.