Over £3m funding for Building Better Opportunities

Local communities are set to benefit from a share of over £3m to support the development of skills to overcome barriers to work, education and training.

Building Better Opportunities brings together money from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund 2014-2020 to provide joint investment in local projects that tackle poverty and promote social inclusion.

Each Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) identified the issues challenging some of their communities and the opportunity that funding can bring to address them. The first two projects identified by Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership will improve access to tailored skills training and support to boost the local economy, working alongside local employers. The scheme will benefit those who experience challenges with regards to accessing work, education and/or training and will focus on placing these people in local jobs and therefore growing the local economy.

A total of £3,320,000 is available for the Worcestershire project and interested parties are being urged to come forward as soon as possible ahead of the deadline at 12 noon on Monday 3 August 2015. The funding will be managed by the Big Lottery Fund and will give voluntary, community and social enterprise groups access to this wider European Social Fund (ESF) money.

The project is part of Worcestershire LEP’s remit to ensure businesses, local government, third sector, higher and further education work together with a common, shared purpose – to create the conditions for economic growth, increasing prosperity and delivering the 10-year Strategic Economic Plan for Worcestershire.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund said: “We are delighted to be working with Local Enterprise Partnerships across the West Midlands to bring new funds into communities to develop employment opportunities and pathways to the job market for those most in need. These projects focus on solutions developed at a local level, from customised programmes for carers seeking flexible work to support for people to create new local social enterprises.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director at the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is fantastic news that the Big Lottery Fund is matching the funds from the European Social Fund. The money available for Worcestershire will be of huge benefit to local partnerships and organisations to help provide access to skills training and support working alongside local employers. This in turn will provide further access into jobs and consequently benefit local people and grow the economy.

“I would urge any parties interested in delivering this support for local people and communities to visit the website at the earliest opportunity to find out more and apply ahead of the deadline.”

The first competitive application stage is now open. Grant competitions are fair, open and competitive and any organisation is eligible to apply, however most of the projects will be better suited to partnership working. Full details of all the project outlined in this round are available at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/esf as well as details of how to apply for this current round of funding by the deadline of 12 noon on Monday 3 August 2015.

Further funding opportunities will be available in Autumn 2015. To be kept informed on the latest Building Better Opportunities news register your interest at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/esf For more information on the funding and applications, call the BIG Advice Line on 0345 410 2030.