Community projects to support people into work, training and education

Communities across the South West are set to benefit from nearly £40.5 million after the Big Lottery Fund and EU have joined forces.

The Big Lottery Fund is matching funds from the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 to provide joint investment in 61 local projects tackling poverty, promoting social inclusion and boosting local economies.

Projects will provide learning and training opportunities for people to increase their confidence and learn new skills that will put them on the path to employment. Projects are designed to help people to overcome a huge range of challenges in their lives and communities. For example, projects will provide specialist support to people living in a rural, isolated area, people who are homeless, have mental health issues, are living with a disability or overcoming addiction issues.

The Big Lottery Fund is working with local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and their decision-making committees across England who have identified projects that best meet local need and priorities. From today organisations will be able to apply for funding to deliver these projects, including voluntary, community and social enterprise groups, who have historically found it hard to apply for and manage EU funding.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund said: "Working with local enterprise partnerships across the South West, these projects will enable people to overcome challenges and improve their long-term job prospects. This valuable partnership will create new opportunities for groups to focus on issues specific to their local communities.”

The 61 projects announced today across England with a total of more than £132.6 million available, represent the second round of this funding and involve 18 LEP areas. This takes the total number of LEP areas with projects to 38. Each LEP has identified the issues challenging their communities and the opportunity that funding can bring to address them.

Projects open for applications today include:

Five projects in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP area to help people get into work. This includes a project to support young people aged 15 to 24 who are not in training, education or employment and will offer them innovative and vocational activities, with a focus on raising qualifications and basic skills levels. It recognises the challenges faced by the local economy, including low wages, relatively low skills attainment and high levels of people out of work, as well as the region being largely rural.

Three projects in the Dorset LEP area to help unemployed people access the job market. This includes a project support people who are out of work and want to start a business or social enterprise. It will increase the awareness of the opportunities available, support people to launch and manage an organisation and promote self-employment.

Four projects in the Heart of the South West LEP area to support people across Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset to move towards employment. This includes a project helping people aged 25 and over move away from benefit dependency and make use of the opportunities, services and training available. It will support people to become more confident and ready for work, learning or self-employment, including improving people’s financial and digital skills.

Potential applicants with questions about the stage one application process should view the FAQs available here https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/bbofaq. The closing date for applications is 12 noon 30 November 2015.

A small number of further funding opportunities are expected in early 2016. To be kept informed on the latest Building Better Opportunities news register your interest on our website at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/esf.