About the Project

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has prioritised support to socially excluded and under-represented groups, addressing barriers to their participation in activities that will improve their economic well-being. The social inclusion theme within the Marches LEP area is focused on supporting those furthest from the job market by providing sustainable routes towards employment and away from poverty. Securing employment provides the single most important means through which people are able to turn their lives around. There has been significant consultation locally to determine the social inclusion priorities and the findings show that there are many groups reporting a desire to work, but a lack of appropriate support/services, training, employment volunteering and work placement opportunities to meet their needs. Particular groups are identified as having significant and complex barriers to moving towards and into employment. Research shows that there are significant numbers of people from these groups locally: 842 individuals from Gypsy Roma and travelling communities; 16,257 lone parent households; 1,165 people aged over 50 claiming Jobseekers Allowance; 12,400 families in which no adult is in work; 1,130 families classified as having multiple and complex needs; 96 homeless people ‘in priority need’; 18,645 people who are economically inactive due to long term health problems or disability; 2,060 adults aged 18-69 receiving secondary mental health services; 72,880 carers; and 21,789 people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities (NOMIS; Census, 2011; Mental Health National Minimum Dataset 2014, Health and Social Care Information Centre; P1E homelessness Prevention and Relief data, Department for Communities and Local Government). A range of barriers people face as they move towards and into work have been identified in the Marches. These include: caring responsibilities; a lack of awareness around the needs of disabled people and stigma around disability; cultural and language barriers; and digital exclusion (research has shown that the main reasons for this are the costs associated with internet usage, lack of confidence to take the first step to use ICT and lack of opportunity to gain suitable skills). Factors such as inter-generational unemployment have also been raised as issues. The research findings also highlight that there are growing numbers of people who are experiencing several barriers moving towards and into employment, making the needs more complex and multifaceted. In addition, there are 38 lower super output areas (LSOAs) in the Marches LEP areas (Index for Multiple Deprivation, 2010). People in these areas, in addition to the barriers described above, face additional challenges to employment such as embedded low aspiration, low skills levels, high levels of antisocial behaviour, and poor health. There are two projects being delivered in the Marches LEP area through Building Better Opportunities:

  • Support for under-represented groups to move towards employment (Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin);
  • Support for under-represented groups to move towards employment (Herefordshire).

Although separate, there is the expectation that the projects will liaise, consider opportunities for joint work and learn from each other. Applicants should ensure they are fully aware of the other project we will be funding in the Marches LEP area even if they only plan to submit an application for this project.

Project aim

This project aims to provide pre-employment support within Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin for disadvantaged people aged 19 and over who are not in work. The project will focus on those who are furthest from the labour market, helping them engage in activity to move towards and into employment. Employment will be one measure of success as will be work readiness, but so too will be the confidence of participants to progress onto other training, education or volunteering opportunities. The project will therefore need to:

  • provide the means through which targeted groups move towards employment through access to customised learning, training and volunteering opportunities;
  • engage and support targeted groups, enabling them to overcome barriers which prevent them moving towards employment;
  • target people from communities with high unemployment, low skills and low income to overcome barriers to moving towards and into employment.

Project description

The specific activities to be delivered through this project should be determined by applicants and clearly articulated in their stage one application form, but possible activities could include:

  • a personal and holistic assessment of individual needs, barriers and solutions;
  • personalised flexible support that recognises those most in need will be accessing support from different points and will be at different stages in their lives;
  • tailored support to help people build their confidence, knowledge, skills, resilience and ambitions to move towards work and out of poverty;
  • skills, learning and training activities, including literacy, numeracy and digital skills;
  • mentor advice and support on issues such as housing, money, debt, employment contracts and tax, to address the root causes of poverty;
  • providing tailored local support, to meet the specific needs of the local people, including raising expectations and enabling the use of local facilities and services;
  • work placement options and/or peer support to develop confidence, self-esteem and help participants overcome more complex barriers;
  • providing the support needed (to individuals and organisations) so people become volunteer ready, move into volunteering roles and receive personal development support;
  • practical activities to engage and retain underrepresented groups as well as the ‘hidden’ groups of people who are out of work, for example growing food, gardening, sport, arts.

Applicants are encouraged to consider a wide range of innovative delivery models with the potential for a legacy beyond the life of the grant. It will be important to show the links which have been established with employment service providers to show how people will be supported into employment.

Project location

The project should be delivered across the Marches Transition area, which comprises of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin local authority areas. Activities and support should be locally accessible, including in rural areas where access to services is limited. There should also be a particular focus on communities recognised as LSOAs which are in the most deprived 20 per cent nationally.

Project participants

All participants must be unemployed or economically inactive as defined in our programme guide. The project will have a specific focus on those aged 19 or over and people who are most at risk of social exclusion. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • people with disabilities;
  • people who are 50 or older;
  • people who are homeless;
  • people with mental health issues;
  • people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities (particularly those from the Gypsy Roma and travelling communities);
  • families with multiple and complex needs;
  • lone parents;
  • people with caring responsibilities;
  • people living areas of deprivation.

Project outputs and results

The project must deliver the following outputs and results within its lifetime: At least 854 people are engaged in activities to improve their work readiness, including at least:

  • 427 men;
  • 427 women;
  • 427 people who are unemployed;
  • 427 people who are economically inactive;
  • 128 people who are 50 or older;
  • 171 people with disabilities;
  • 29 people from ethnic minorities.

N.B. each person can be counted against more than one category.

  • At least 17 per cent of the people enrolled on the project move into education or training on leaving.
  • At least 10 per cent of people move into employment, including self-employment, on leaving. Of these, 50 per cent must have been unemployed when joining the project and 50 per cent must have been economically inactive.
  • At least 27 per cent of people who were economically inactive when joining the project move into job-search on leaving.
  • In addition, you must ensure that anyone who needs access to childcare in order to participate in the project receives childcare support. This will be checked through a survey run by the Managing Authority.

These are the minimum targets we expect your project to deliver within its lifetime. Tell us if you will be able to support more people through the project, as this could have a bigger impact. Our assessment of your stage one application will take into account the different types of change that participants of the project will experience. If you are successful at stage one, we will ask you to develop a set of project outcomes that you will deliver alongside the outputs outlined above.


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