Better opportunities for east Berkshire

Published: 12 July 2017

A consortium led by Slough Borough Council has been awarded £878,360 in funding by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund.

The money will be used to support people across east Berkshire furthest from the labour market, facing such barriers as social exclusion, disability and high levels of deprivation.

Slough Borough Council will be working in partnership with a wide range of voluntary sector and community organisations that have specialist knowledge, work with disadvantaged neighbourhoods and communities, and who are trusted by people who have had negative experiences of statutory bodies previously.

This is combined with a supported employment approach, including targeted employer engagement activity to provide real benefits to disadvantaged people.

The Better Opportunities for East Berkshire project will be delivered in the local authorities areas of Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead and Bracknell, and will focus on areas of highest deprivation and social isolation. The Slough wards of Britwell, Elliman and Chalvey will be of particular focus.

The partnership will work with at least 260 participants with multiple disadvantages, who are aged 25 or over and not currently employed.

Over the following three years the project will identify and address barriers to participation and deliver activities including confidence building, skills development (basic and business), work experience and job trials - all leading to education and employment. Support will also be offered during the transition into work to maximise the chance of job retention.

Councillor Madhuri Bedi, cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “The funding we have received will allow us to reach those people furthest from employment, who face challenging barriers to finding sustainable jobs.

“Working in partnership with the voluntary and community sectors, we will be able to provide support, education and training to local people, addressing the root causes of barriers to employment while increasing people’s confidence and wellbeing.

“The project not only benefits potential employees, but provides key support to local employers as they place new recruits within their businesses.

“Project participants will gain invaluable skills and build vital networks that will benefit them throughout their working lives.”

Peter Read, Chairman of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "We are delighted this funding has been awarded to Slough Borough Council to provide opportunities for employment to those furthest from the labour market.

“These projects will make a significant difference in reducing social exclusion and supporting people into work, including self-employment or becoming social entrepreneurs.

“The LEP is committed to reducing economic inactivity in Berkshire and enhancing the skills of the workforce and therefore champions projects like these.”

James Harcourt, England grant making director at the Big Lottery Fund added: “This grant will allow projects to provide life changing support, helping people most in need to overcome challenges and improve their long-term job prospects.

“As well as helping improve people’s immediate wellbeing, these projects will help participants to address the root causes of long-term unemployment.

“Thanks to National Lottery players and the European Social Fund, the benefits of this work will impact the rest of their lives.”

Better Opportunities for East Berkshire partners are: Ways into Work; Destiny Support; Get Berkshire Active; Slough Refugee Support Group; WEA (Southern); Adult Dyslexia Service; Autism Berkshire; Berkshire Vision; Bracknell and District Citizens Advice; Buckinghamshire MIND (Friends in Need); Citizens Advice Maidenhead and Windsor; DASH Charity; East West Organisation Ltd; Involve Community Services; People to Places; Slough Aspire; Slough Community Transport and Slough Council for Voluntary Service / WAM Get Involved.