More than 20 long-term unemployed people have got new jobs with The Co-operative Group through the government’s Work Programme.

The new staff are now working at two Co-op stores in Edinburgh after being helped to find employment by Ingeus, which provides the Department for Work and Pensions’ Work Progamme for seven regions in England and Scotland.

It ran a series of workshops to prepare candidates for a Co-op Group recruitment day, and also collated applications and set up interviews. Successful candidates also attended a preparation day before starting work.

One successful candidate was Scott Aird, who had been unemployed for 18 months.

“I enjoy seeing the results of my work at the bakery and have learnt a lot from the training,” he said. “I’ve been given a new-found confidence and hopefully a longterm career. I also have the time and money now to treat my son to the odd Hearts away game!”

Co-op Group operations manager Graeme Cooper added: “The Co-op prides itself on ethical trading in local communities. Giving career opportunities to the local unemployed is a natural extension of that and there is scope for our Ingeus recruits to go far with us.”

“The clients we interviewed understood our company and our roles, there were no time wasters,” he said. “We’ve got some excellent new team members as a result and I’m thrilled they’ve joined a company which has given me so much over the years.”