Olympic gold medallist opens Bridgwater hub

Olympic gold medallist, Sally Gunnell, OBE, has opened a new “one-stop shop” learning and training hub in Bridgwater.

Named ‘Under Construction’, the Sedgemoor District Council-led community space aims to help local people develop and gain new skills to “take advantage” of employment opportunities across Sedgemoor, a council spokesperson said.

The programme will include support for those with literacy, numeracy, IT, and language needs; support with work skills; support for those recovering from a drugs or alcohol problems; people on probation; and introductory courses for mums, older people and other groups looking to rejoin the workforce.

The centre is being funded by EDF Energy through a three-year £45,000 investment from the planning permission given to prepare the site at Hinkley Point C for construction.

The money is being matched by partner contributions, either in kind or by direct funding.

Councillor Ian Dyer, chairman of Sedgemoor District Council, and Sally GunnellIan Dyer (Chairman of Council)  MBE at the opening of Under Construction in Bridgwater – picture copyright Jeff Searle

David Eccles, EDF Energy’s head of stakeholder engagement for Hinkley Point C, said: “It is vital that we play our part in equipping local people with the skills they need to secure jobs and to enable local businesses to thrive by having a suitably qualified workforce.

“This centre and our new prospectus will provide a one-stop shop for a range of employment opportunities, including those at Hinkley Point C, and I am thrilled we are able to support it.”

Ms Gunnell, who is the only woman ever to hold four major track titles (Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth) concurrently, said the centre was a “great idea”.

She added: “[It] will provide much valued practical help and advice to people wanting to get into the workplace.  I am very passionate about health and wellbeing issues of employees and it’s inspiring to visit a centre like this that supports such individuals. I truly believe that small changes, consistently made, really do make a difference.”

The council spokesperson said the name Under Construction reflected the number of developments currently going on in Bridgwater, and also the idea of people “reconstructing their own lives”.