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LEP extends commitment to community challenge fund

A project which has supported more than a thousand people furthest from the labour market to find a job or become work ready has received a new commitment from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

The LEP’s board has unanimously approved £250,000 for its Community Challenge Fund, extending the project into a fourth year.

The project is delivered in partnership with Norfolk and Suffolk Community Foundations. It has worked with more than 30 organisations from the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS), supporting back-to-work projects with diverse themes including construction, catering, sport, farming, music and media production. 

The support these projects offer helps people overcome physical, mental, behavioural and social obstacles to gain the confidence and skills to enter the job market.

Over three previous funding rounds, the Community Challenge Fund has awarded £605,000 for projects pledging to help 279 people into paid employment and a further 724 become work ready.

The LEP’s board also agreed to consider two further funding rounds at a future date.

Doug Field, chairman of New Anglia LEP said: “Over its first three years the Community Challenge Fund has supported projects across Suffolk and Norfolk in their vital work, helping hundreds of people into work or into a position where they can confidently look for work. As a member of the grants panel I’ve seen at first hand the difference this work can make to the lives of people across the East. Inclusive growth is a key theme of the Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy. This new commitment will help us achieve our ambition to grow our economy for the benefit of everyone.”

Stephen Singleton, Chief Executive Officer of Suffolk Community Foundation, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be involved again in this ground-breaking initiative that has delivered such significant results during the first programme delivery. Its ability to reach and help those furthest from the job market and improve their lives has been truly outstanding.”

Claire Cullens, Chief Executive Officer of Norfolk Community Foundation, said: “Building skills and delivering opportunities for people facing disadvantage, is one of our key priorities at Norfolk Community Foundation. We are delighted to support this programme again and continue to develop new and innovative models of addressing this within the voluntary sector.”

Sue Wilcock