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Page last updated at 07:29 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 08:29 UK
Bath churchgoers pledge thousands to help homeless
Man holding homeless sign
The 20,000 raised will help homeless people in Bath

Churchgoers in Bath have pledged £20,000 to help jobless people in the city find work.

The Easter service congregation at Bath Abbey raised the cash in support of the Clean Slate Training & Employment scheme, which was set up in 2007.

The not-for-profit organisation creates paid work people facing barriers to employment, such as homelessness, mental ill health, and offending.

Attendees at the service took just 90 seconds to raise the money.

The Easter sermon was delivered by the Rector of Bath Abbey, Prebendary Edward Mason.

It made modern day parallels to the Easter story, talking of 'new beginnings and creating chances for disadvantaged people.'

The Clean Slate Training & Employment scheme is developing a "temp to perm" employment agency and already has three employers pledging 14 small-scale, paid work placements between them.

We are so grateful to the congregation at Bath Abbey
Jeff Mitchell

The scheme aims to allocate individuals to mainstream employers, therefore creating paid work and job preparation training opportunities in the city.

It already has operations in Bristol where it runs a distribution service and a centre supporting job seekers from one of the most disadvantaged communities in North Bristol.

Clean Slate managing director Jeff Mitchell said: "We are so grateful to the congregation at Bath Abbey.

"This donation will enable us to open an office and immediately start creating new opportunities for workless people in Bath.

"[Bath is] somewhere people wrongly assume is immune from poverty and entrenched unemployment, not to mention the effects of the recession.

"In the next 12 months we hope to create '10,000 hours' of paid work for people currently stuck on benefits without much hope for the future."

Kerry Headen, the abbey's homelessness initiative manager, said she was delighted at the "phenomenal response" from the congregation.

"I am once again overwhelmed by the congregation's support and generosity," she said.

"The amazing level of support for those on the margins of our community is wonderful."

Prebendary Edward Mason said: "It was another opportunity for the congregation to see how their Christian faith works out in action and makes a difference to those around us."

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