When his wife Josephine passed away in 2007, the future looked bleak for devoted husband Gilberto Benitez who had been her round-the-clock carer for the previous nine years.

Although he had a Certificate in Education and was doing some voluntary work, he was struggling to see a way forward in his life and career.

Luckily Gilberto, who is 57 and comes originally from Spain, was put in touch with Work Route - part of Hartlepool Borough Council's Hartlepool Working Solutions initiative - which helps people overcome their individual hurdles to getting jobs.

Work Route works with people to find out what their career aims are and helps them gain the experience and skills to get there, by organising temporary employment, as well as training and other support.

Work Route arranged several paid work placements for Gilberto in Hartlepool over the course of a year.

As a result, he has recently been given a permanent administrative job at Wharton Annexe in Wharton Terrace, where his varied work ranges from helping people with CVs and job applications to assisting in the Annexe's library. He also plans to start teaching Spanish classes.

Gilberto said: "I'm delighted to be here. There is a nice friendly atmosphere and we all work as a team. Before all of this I was in a state of depression, but I have had a lot of great help and the support from Work Route was superb."

Sue Williams, a project officer for Work Route, added: "I am delighted for Gilberto. He has overcome so many difficulties and he thoroughly deserves his success."

Wharton Annexe is a community centre which offers Hartlepool residents a wide range of courses and activities.  There is a community library with excellent fiction, non-fiction and audio sections as well as offering a place for the local community to meet, have a chat or even a cuppa.  The WorkLink service operates from the Annexe and can help people who are looking for work to fill in application forms, write CVs or application letters, find training opportunities and develop good interview techniques.