A COWLEY employment coach is hoping hundreds of residents will join him to unite against Government cuts on Saturday.

Shane Touhey, of Hertford Street, has organised a protest event to offer support to those affected by benefit cuts within the community.

Protestors at the Chords Against the Cuts event will rally to raise awareness of the effects national cuts are having within the area.

Mr Touhey said: “It’s about getting people talking and then they will get talking to other people. It’s really about making sure people are aware and they are making informed decisions in life.”

As a coach on the Progress! programme, the 30-year-old works with unemployed adults receiving benefits in Oxford.

The programme aims to combat unemployment by providing individually tailored one-to-one support to those disadvantaged by joblessness.

Mr Touhey helps service users tackle barriers to employment by delivering adult education courses, equipping users with CV and interview skills and assisting them with job searching techniques.

He also provides support to those facing issues including alcoholism, social isolation and housing problems.

He said: “I try to get them out in the community, out of the house, getting them feeling included and empowering people.”

Mr Touhey was moved to organise the protest after seeing service users struggle on a daily basis after their benefits were cut.

He said: “People on benefits are still people and they are deserving of benefit rights which they are being deprived of. It is becoming considered reasonable for people to go several days without eating and that should not be reasonable. People need to stand together to say that it’s not ok.”

Hoping the community will share his passion for the cause, Mr Touhey said more action against government officials was needed.

He said: “The Government has to start considering the people who are the worst off and not mistreat them. I think they are being mistreated by these cuts and the only reason the Government will stop is if they think that more people care.’’ The protest event at East Oxford Community Centre will involve a mixture of protest music and speeches.

Between 8pm and 11pm, Oxford-based acoustic duo Purple May and group The Headington Hillbillies will provide live entertainment.

Councillor Anne-Marie Canning and Debbie Hollingsworth, women’s officer at Oxfordshire County Unison, will be speaking during the event alongside Mr Touhey.