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Some of Portsmouth’s most vulnerable residents will have an opportunity to improve their employment chances thanks to £65,000 funding and the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Portsmouth City Council has been awarded £65,000 by Arts Council England to launch The Detectives project, a new scheme which will provide participants with a life-changing opportunity to gain work-based skills and experience, enabling them to return to work or start volunteering in the community.

The project will give people work-based experience to build their confidence, anyone can take part but it is particularly aimed at supporting people who have learning disabilities or physical disabilities, as well as those experiencing mental ill health or substance misuse issues, it is part of the council’s commitment to build independence and help everyone to live active healthy lives.

The council will be working with partners across the city to recruit participants who will work with authors and artists to create community projects that showcase the world-class Conan Doyle collection both locally and internationally.

The collection brings together a unique variety of books, documents and objects connected to Sherlock Holmes and the life of his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, including unique photographs, film posters, and letters from the influential and the famous. The funding came from the Arts Council’s National Lottery Project Grants Libraries Fund.

Cllr Ben Dowling, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Economic Development said, “This is an exciting opportunity to use our Conan Doyle collection to support residents in building their skills, and to also create projects which will benefit our community. We are grateful to Arts Council England for enabling us to deliver The Detectives project and look forward to seeing the great outcomes this project will bring.”

Volunteers are needed to help support the running of the project by buddying up with participants and helping with day-to-day tasks, such as being a friendly face of support or helping with travel.

To find out more about participating in the project or to learn about the volunteering opportunities, email Sherlock.Holmes@portsmouthcc.gov.uk