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The Work Place: A decade of making a difference

The Work Place, an Aycliffe-based conferencing and training centre, is celebrating its tenth anniversary in business with its state-of-the-art facilities being showcased at a forthcoming open afternoon.

The centre, which provides training, interview, seminar and networking, meetings and conference facilities, has gone from strength-to-strength over the last decade. Its doors have welcomed a number of tenants including DurhamWorks and Durham County Council’s Improving Progression Team, and hosts events including the forthcoming NEECC Chamber Exchange event on 14th September.

The innovative centre, located in Aycliffe Business Park, is looking forward to welcoming clients and local businesses to its open afternoon to enjoy an informal drop-in occasion with cakes and an opportunity to have a look around, on Friday September 14th.

The Work Place is the venue of choice Durham Constabulary and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, when they deliver informative sessions to over 7,000 local students each year. It is also proud to have welcomed over 20,000 trainees to numerous courses including first aid at work and food safety, as well as being one of the few places in the North East delivering mental health first aid courses to support young people.

Julie Turnbull, Centre Administrator, said: “The Work Place’s performance has improved year-on-year since we opened in 2008, it’s amazing and we’re continuing to build on this success. We’re proud to offer facilities to upskill the region’s work force and we’re looking forward to the next ten years.”

The innovative centre, which is also host to the Durham SCITT team, Baltic Recruitment and a team from the Pioneering Care Partnership, was the brainchild of Jane Ritchie MBE, who spent her working life as a careers adviser.

Now based in North Yorkshire, Jane, who received her MBE for her services to Durham County Council’s Education Business Partnership, unexpectedly became a millionaire overnight following the death of her cousin, Margery Freeman.

Keen to remain humble and enjoy a normal life, she decided to spend only £150 on herself to buy a wedding hat and a rhubarb forcer and invest the remaining sum from the £9 million into the local area to benefit young people.

Jane set up two charities, the Vocational Learning Trust, which aims to support learning for young people, and not for profit organisation, The Work Place.

The Work Place quickly became home to small businesses as well as offering conference and event facilities, and a space for training providers to deliver courses

The centre donates its profits to the charity so that they can be reinvested, allowing young people to continue benefiting from the services provided.

Jane said: “The fantastic accomplishments of The Work Place over the last 10 years have been achieved because of the brilliant team who work there.

“I’m incredibly proud of the business’ success and I’m looking forward to seeing The Work Place continue to provide a useful facility for the region.

“My one piece of advice to any young entrepreneurs is to remember that change is inevitable, don’t worry about the past and use your energy to tackle new challenges.”

The celebration afternoon will take place 2pm-4pm on Friday, September 14th. For more information, email julie.turnbull@twpa.org.uk.


The Work Place is ideally situated just off the A1 with 120 free on-site parking spaces.

For more information see twpa.org.uk


For Editors

Photo 1: (L-R) Angela Wilkinson (Business Manager), Tracy Henderson (Centre Administrator), Julie Turnbull (Centre Administrator).
Photo 2: The Work Place, Aycliffe Business Park

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