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What is the impact of an inclusive economy?

9 March 2018

Over 100 people took to Towcester Racecourse for an event to celebrate individuals who dedicate their own work to helping disadvantaged people develop their skills and find better jobs.

Over the last two and a half years, 25 community projects have received a share of nearly £30million from the European Social Fund, a programme that funds projects to combat social exclusion and poverty in our local areas by providing better access to support, training and job opportunities.

This event, hosted by SEMLEP on 22 February, was an opportunity to take a look at the impact that these projects have on people’s lives, described personally through stories told by individuals who have received support.

At the event, Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, Chair of SEMLEP launched Impact a brochure to showcase the ESF-funded community projects available to local people and small businesses, with case studies for each one.

We heard directly from people working in five community projects showcased:

  1. The Work Readiness Action Programme that, to date has engaged with over 400 people who are disadvantaged in Northamptonshire to help build confidence in dealing with life, with opportunities to progress towards work, training for job-search.
  2. The Support into Employment project is run by Luton Borough Council with multiple partners across the South East Midlands LEP area that delivery support locally.  The event showcased the work of The Disability Resource Centre  who work to empower people of all ages who are affected by disability or health conditions to fulfil their potential and aspirations.
  3. The Northamptonshire My Future project, that assists young people who are not in employment, education or training to kick start their careers by providing one-to-one support and guidance, giving young people the tools and motivation they need to take the next step.
  4. The Employee Support in Skills project, led by Northampton College and partners, to support young people into apprenticeships, and helping small businesses to recruit apprentices
  5. The Community Led Local Development programme that directly funds hyper-local projects to increase the employability and aspirations of young people and develop skills of people who face barriers getting into work in the most disadvantaged areas in Luton. Their featured project was Luton Street League, who work through sport, with 16-25 year olds who at risk of getting involved in gangs or crime.

Two ‘stars of show’ were Anthony Loasby and Kieran Stevens who are supported by the WRAP project in Northamptonshire. They both told their own individual experiences of homelessness, drug and alcohol issues and, loneliness. They needed help but didn’t know where to go.

Kieran said, “I’d been living in a tent since last April. I’d lost everything and didn’t know what to do. The Job Centre put me in touch with WRAP and by that evening, they’d helped me to get into a night shelter. They’ve helped me to sort everything out and now, I’m about to move into my own place.

“ I wanted to come here to this event to say thank you” he added.

Anthony said, “I’ve come so far now because of the hard work and support they’ve given me.”

Dr Ann Limb CEB DL said: “From hearing people’s stories, what really hits home is just what can be achieved.  We cannot underestimate the impact of these projects. It’s striking to see the hard work and dedication to get people to believe in themselves, to believe that they can get a better job and get on in life.

“We have a very successful, and inclusive economy in the South East Midlands. We recognise that there are people who need extra support to help them embrace the economy and through these funded projects, we’re giving people the opportunity to do this.”

Jane Roemer, European Funding Manager at SEMLEP and SEMLEP’s Board representative for the voluntary and community sector said, “We have a huge number of organisations involved and a social army of dedicated people working hard for these community projects. Through this European programme, we’ve seen some strong partnerships develop and some amazing projects working together for the benefit of our communities.

“There’s more money available through the ESF programme to fund local projects. Later this spring, we expect the government to open up calls for grant funding and will invite projects to submit their proposals.”

For more information about the European Social Fund programme, the projects featured in the Impact brochure, and future funding opportunities, visit Also, read more about the ESF projects directly in the Investments Section

Photos taken at SEMLEP European Social Fund celebration event

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