A final call has gone out to Shropshire-based organisations running projects for the unemployed to claim a grant worth up to £20,000.

The ESF Community Grants scheme has supported multiple projects across the county since applications opened in 2020 but there remains a further £250,000 in the pot to support individuals into jobs, training and education.

Applications for the funding close at the end of March.

The grants are being managed by Shropshire-based supported and employment charity Landau in partnership with the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

Grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 are available through the scheme and are open to organisations that offer activities to improve confidence, promote personal development or facilitate social integration through sports, clubs and support groups.

Sonia Roberts, CEO of Landau, said: “At the start of this scheme in 2020 we had £1.5 million to support organisations across Hereford, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin and to date hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals have benefited from targeted support from a range of voluntary organisations.

“The grants have made a really positive impact in our communities supporting people in many ways including helping to get them outside more and developing a range of new and varied skills in everything from woodworking and gardening to animal care, bike mechanics and hairdressing.

“With £250,000 left in the pot to fund organisations specifically in the Shropshire region, we’re having one last push to ensure important projects have access to the funding they need.

“The programme is very much about enabling those who have experienced barriers to employment or training to learn new skills, develop confidence and get back to work and we look forward to hearing from those who might be able to help and utilise the funding in positive ways.”

Funding from the Community Grants scheme has enabled Shifnal-based training provider ANTA Education to support people like mum of five Cheryl Dodd back into the workplace.

Forty-year-old Cheryl from Telford had been eager to get back to work in the hospitality sector for some time but she was finding it difficult to secure employment because she lacked self-esteem.

However, with assistance from ANTA, Cheryl was able to complete a Level 2 award in customer service and was supported to build her self-confidence.

A combination of one-to-one mentoring and distanced learning gave Cheryl the boost she needed to finally secure a job and she is now working at a well-known hotel in Telford.

She said: “I feel like I have gained back some confidence in myself that I might have lost along the way, and I have learned that I am still more than capable of doing the things I thought I could, but may have previously doubted myself with.”

Third sector and small organisations with a turnover of less than £8.5 million and fewer than 49 employees are eligible to apply for a grant through the programme.

A grants panel made up of representatives from key local stakeholders will help ensure that the funding reaches projects that can make a real difference to those who need it most.

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