Building Better Opportunities

Working for Inclusion in Wiltshire and Swindon

Building Bridges x4 col-01



Community First, Wiltshire and Swindon’s Rural Community Council has announced it has secured development funding through stage one of ‘Building Better Opportunities’ for a potential new programme named ‘Building Bridges’. The funding bid was made to the Big Lottery Fund – and if successful in the next stage, will provide £3.9 Million of funding that will benefit Wiltshire and Swindon communities, via Community First’s partner schemes.

Building Better Opportunities sees the Big Lottery Fund matching funds from European Social Fund (ESF) 2014 – 2020, to provide joint investment in local projects that tackle poverty and promote social inclusion. Over the next few years the funding will be delivered in 38 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas according to local priorities.

If funding is secured at the second stage, The ‘Building Bridges’ programme is set to be delivered via a mix of key workers and volunteer mentors. Routes into employment and support would include: “mentoring” support, self-employment and social enterprise programmes, work inspiration and supported internships.

Plans also include the creation of work placements and employer support and engagement. As well as the appointment of an Employer Liaison resource, to drive cultural and attitudinal change amongst employers in order to develop more diverse workforces, representative of their local communities and contributing to economic opportunity for all.

Lynn Gibson, Chief Executive of Community First, said: “We have brought together an extraordinary partnership of local networks including major employers, local VCS organisations, learning providers and public bodies to develop this programme to support over 1,800 participants. The range and diversity of partners would give us strong reach.

If successful in the second stage of our funding bid, the project will aim to give those furthest from the labour market 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 such as transport and confidence. 

Role of Local Enterprise Partnerships

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have a role in determining ESF investment priorities. These are partnerships, between local authorities and businesses, set up to help determine economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within local areas.

The European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) in England brings together four main funds under one common strategic framework to support economic development across EU countries: The funds are:

-          the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

-          the European Social Fund (ESF),

-          European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

-          European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

In response to Lord Heseltine’s 2012 report, No Stone Unturned, the UK government announced in March 2013 that ESIF money should, in the main, be notionally allocated to LEP areas and that each LEP should set out their plans and strategies for the use of this money. This is part of the government’s localism agenda. Local Sub-Committees in each LEP area will be responsible for these strategies going forward.

The European Commission sets the framework and regulations for how the European Funds must be managed. It negotiates and agrees the Operational Programme for each fund with the Managing Authority for each Member State. For ESF in England the Managing Authority is currently DWP.

Building Better Opportunities - Survey Responses

BBO Swindon and Wiltshire. Summary of Survey Responses - May 15, 2015

Responses and dissemination 

As at May 13th, there were 78 responses. Information on relevant questions has now been shared among all those who responded. 

64 respondents indicated interest in being part of a consortium to bid and/or deliver, with a further 10 undecided. Those interested employ between 0 and 3,500 employees, have between 0 and 1,000 volunteers, and have annual turnover between £20,000 and £37,000,000. 19 cover Swindon, 21 cover Wiltshire, 33 cover both, and 18 are also active outside Swindon and Wiltshire. 

Further information needs 

Key issues that respondents wanted more information on (other than the specification for BBO and information that will be provided through the survey), are:

• how small groups can get involved and not be pushed aside,

• what services are lacking in the area and what services would be a benefit to the area, and

• how the process of consortium building will be managed and be accountable to those wishing to join a consortium. 

Possible lead organisations 

A number of respondents reported a view that their organisation has the qualities required and were interested in being a lead organisation. Others indicated a potential interest. Those expressing a clear interest and capacity were:

Community First
New College, Swindon
Swindon College
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
Outset Swindon
Trussell Trust
Wiltshire Council