Community First, Swindon and Wiltshire’s Rural Community Council, has been successful in leading a partnership that has secured £3.9M funding, to help those facing the largest challenges in accessing skills development, training and employment in Swindon and Wiltshire.
The Building Bridges partnership involves 41 organisations from the voluntary, statutory and private sector that have come together to help support those most in need. The £3.9M local funding is part of the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme, which is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.
The focus is on supporting those furthest from the labour market in accessing the skills development, education and experience they need to be able to achieve and sustain on-going employment. The programme will work with each person to develop an individual plan to support their aspirations, to be delivered at a pace that suits their needs. It will run from September 2016 to December 2019 and aims to support 1,827 people, with at least 29% of those moving into education or training and 21% moving into employment.
The target group for the programme will be those who are unemployed or economically inactive and facing multiple, complex challenges, and will be centred around five core thematic delivery groups:
Learning Difficulties and Disabilities
Over 50s Unemployed
Vulnerable Women (including Domestic Abuse)
Young People – not in employment, education or training (NEET) reduction
Workless Households and Families
There will also be additional support in a number of key areas, including mental health and wellbeing, volunteering, sponsored employment opportunities, debt and financial advice, financial training, transport, in-work support, employer liaison and childcare advice. In order to fully support participants, a series of programmes and courses will be made available and help will be tailored to people’s needs.
Dave Potts, Community First’s Programme Manager, says: “Now that we have the funding confirmed, we will be working in a set up phase for the next few months and hope to begin taking referrals from September onwards. We hope the programme can transform and join up the way support agencies work together to help people progress with their lives.”
Building Bridges aims to give those people the tools they need to be resilient in the work place, ensure they have the skills and qualifications that employers are looking for and address the practical things which are barriers to successfully entering employment, such as lack of transport and self-confidence. As a result, the programme will be working closely with employers in the regions and also other agencies that can help to support people as they make progress.
Community First has brought together an extraordinary partnership of local organisations, including some of the county’s major employers, local VCS organisations, learning providers and public bodies to develop this programme – each dedicated to making a difference in their own ways. Working alongside such competent, diverse and capable partners will enable the organisations to effectively tackle these issues more collaboratively.