Building Better Opportunities (BBO Project)
About the Project
The Building Better Opportunities project brings together funding from the Community Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF) to help tackle the poverty and social exclusion faced by the most disadvantaged people in England. Run in conjunction with The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the 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 focuses on those who are furthest from the labour market, helping them engage in activity to move forwards and into employment. Through a partnership of 21 partners the project provides access to a wide and diverse range of volunteering opportunities enabling more disadvantaged people to move into further education or training having acquired basic skills, increased confidence and motivation through personalized support that will equip them with the abilities needed to move toward and into employment. The project will run until 2019.
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.
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. 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.
This project will provide pre-employment support within Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin for disadvantaged people aged 19 and over who are not in work. It focuses 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:
- 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.
Specific activities 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.
The project is delivered across the Marches Transition area, which comprises of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin local authority areas, including in rural areas where access to services is limited.
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.