Black Country community groups receive funding from European Social Fund Community Grants Programme to help local people back into work

Black Country community groups receive funding from European Social Fund Community Grants Programme to help local people back into work

Small Black Country third sector organisations have successfully applied for funding from the Community Grant Programme. The programme- worth £990,000 – is jointly funded by the ESFA and ESF and offers grants of up to £20,000 for each organisation.

The current Community Grants has been open since June 2019 and has funded 21 projects across the Black Country area with more in the pipeline. Funded projects run six month programmes that focus on helping local people progress towards and enter the jobs market.

Dudley Charity Top Church Training received a grant of just under £20,000 to run the Choices Project. Choices is a Women’s only project which aims to empower women and provides a holistic package to support the participant’s wellbeing.

The Choices project offers a range of activities from Craft sessions to Yoga, Coffee mornings to Cooking classes. Each of these sessions take place every week and are ran in groups to help to decrease isolation and low levels of confidence.

The majority of participants are long term unemployed, the Choices project is supporting local women to feel more “work ready” by building up their skills and confidence:

"We are delighted to have been successful with our ESF Community Grants application.

The funding has enabled us to expand our activities and practical support service to help more women in our local community who are feeling lonely and isolated.

We have been able to provide a safe environment for women to come to, to meet new people and to make new friends. By coming to our groups we are hearing how this is improving their mental health, their confidence and self-esteem and for two others, has motivated them to find employment." Karen Fielder (Head of Operations, Top Church Training)

The Community fund is open until July 2021 and is currently accepting new applications. The next round deadline is 2 March 2020. Third sector and not for profit groups that help improve the skills and job prospects of local residents are welcome to apply. To be eligible organisations need to have an annual income below £300,000 and demonstrate an innovative approach to helping people who are out of work or disadvantaged learn new skills and move closer to the workforce.

Applications can be made to Walsall Council who successfully tendered to act as the local Grant Co-ordinating Body on behalf of the ESFA for the second time running.

Application materials, eligibility criteria and guidance are available by contacting Walsall Council External Funding Team communitygrants@walsall.gov.uk

The Community Grants team are available to offer support to organisations interested in making an application. If you would like to discuss a project in more detail please contact Community Grant Manager Ruth Burgess communitygrants@walsall.gov.uk

Successful applicants will also be able to access bespoke training and capacity building support to enable them to deliver the part EU funded project.

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