MP Steve Baker was at the Oasis Project in High Wycombe on Friday to see for himself how the new course in welding skills is going down with learners attending the centre.
The materials and machinery are all provided by BOC, the UK’s largest supplier of industrial gases and welding equipment.
The idea for the course came from Steve Jessop, who runs the car mechanics courses at the Project. He wanted to offer a more advanced mechanics course and welding skills was an obvious choice. But to do so, he needed some help. He approached the local BOC store in Thame and got into conversation with manager John Baker. “I explained what we were trying to do – and also how small the budget was!” said Steve. “But BOC offered to provide all the materials and the equipment to set up the course. We really couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Oasis Project was the inspiration of Mrs Marion Richards of the local Elim Christian Centre. The church has been working with children for many years and more recently it was decided to help older youths in need of employment. Working with the other churches in Lane End, near High Wycombe, the Oasis Project was established to help them become better prepared for adult life.
“Some of the young people just need work-related skills,” Pastor John Richards of the Elim Centre recalls, “while others need more general lifeskills and other assistance.”
That extra dimension was particularly appealing to John Baker, the manager of BOC’s Gas & Gear store in Thame who was also at the project today. He spent his early life in a children’s home in Zimbabwe and knows what it is like to battle against early disadvantages. “Of the children I grew up with, some succeeded in life but many others didn’t. I’d like these young people to know that it is possible to get on in life, whatever the difficulties facing you.”
Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, said: “The Oasis Project is a wonderful example of how local groups can improve the lives of those in their community. It is a tremendous example of the Big Society in practice. Everyone who has contributed to this scheme, and given these young people the skills and support they need, should be congratulated. I’m delighted to be here to see this latest venture take off.”