New Anglia LEP launches new round of Community Challenge Fund to help the disadvantaged find work

Ryan Atkins, one of the participants in a programme run by the St Edmunds Society under a previous r

Ryan Atkins, one of the participants in a programme run by the St Edmunds Society under a previous round of the New Anglia LEP Community Challenge Fund. - Credit: Archant

Social enterprises and volunteer groups in East Anglia are being invited to apply for a share of £230,000 in funding intended to help the most disadvantaged people in society to find work.

The New Anglia Local Enteprise Partnership (LEP) Community Challenge Fund supports projects aiming to help groups including the homeless, those suffering from mental illness, ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed to find a job or to become “work ready”.

Previous rounds of the fund have already helped 160 people into employment and a further 460 to become ready for work.

The latest round offers nine awards of £20,000 each for the successful applicants to run their scheme for up to a year, with the two most successful projects then receiving an extra £25,000 each to sustain and scale up their work.

Doug Field, a New Anglia LEP board member and joint chief executive of East of England Co-op, said: “I really enjoying participating in the Community Challenge Fund.

“Looking to help people into work or into a position where they can confidently look for work is vitally important. It’s about the lives these organisations can change, and the economic benefits to the region of helping people into work.”

Stephen Singleton, chief executive of the Suffolk Community Foundation, which, together with its Norfolk counterpart, is working in partnership with the LEP on the challenge fund project, said: “What is exciting about this programme is that it uses the full strength of the voluntary and social enterprise sector to reach out to our most vulnerable people.”

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He added: “We are delighted that the continued funding for the programme will allow the voluntary sector to reach out to more people in the year to come.”

Among the programmes already supported by the fund are Cook With Me Training & Education, for a project aimed at bringing together the different cultures in the Norwich Road area of Ipswich through the common “language” of food, and the Saint Edmunds Society in Norwich, for vocational training for young people who have struggled in mainstream education.