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Business Enterprise Support has been awarded more than £2m to help people across the south of Staffordshire to improve health, employment and training.

The Building Better Opportunities programme, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund, has awarded £2.3m to Business Enterprise Support (BES), who will work with 17 partners across the south of the county.

The project, which begins in January 2017, aims to help those who experience multiple barriers to work in finding a job or in being better placed to look for work.

BES CEO, Judith Kirkland OBE, said: “This project is a major investment for the south Staffordshire area and we are delighted to be working with 17 fantastic partner organisations.

“There are many reasons that people can struggle to find employment. This project will help tackle a number of key factors for those that are really struggling to get a job.

“We are very excited about the project which we now will make a major difference to people’s lives.”

The three year project will focus on key groups who typically find they have multiple problems to overcome in finding suitable employment

These are:

  • People aged over 50
  • Lone parents
  • Those with low skills or qualifications
  • People with long-term health condition or disability
  • Those from an ethnic minority group
  • Those living in ‘low employment demand’ areas
  • Those who experience more than one of the following; homelessness, substance misuse, history of offending and mental ill-health.

The project will tackle the barriers that prevent these groups of people from accessing support with more opportunities for education and training, improved health and well-being services, better financial help and new programmes to build people’s confidence.

Support will be provided to help people build self-confidence and develop or acquire new skills in key areas where they might be experiencing difficulties.

These are:

  • Work skills – gaining of key skills e.g. team working, problem solving, numeracy, IT and communication skills.
  • Attitudinal skills – increased levels of motivation, confidence, feelings of responsibility, levels of self-esteem and higher personal and career aspirations.
  • Personal skills – improved timekeeping, personal hygiene, greater levels of self-awareness, better health and fitness, greater levels of concentration and engagement.
  • Practical skills – ability to complete forms, ability to write a CV, improved ability to manage money and improved awareness of rights and responsibilities.

Mrs Kirkland, said: “We know from research that the areas of Stafford and South Staffordshire have 15% of the total Job Seekers Allowance claimants and 13% of incapacity benefits for the whole of the county.

“Those statistics also show there is a concentration of youth unemployment in the Penkridge area of Stafford. The town also has three areas in the top ten percent most deprived in the UK for multiple deprivation – and another four that are in the top 20 percent for health and disability.

“This project will have a major positive impact on these areas – as well as many more across the county.”


Building Better Opportunities

  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
  • The project has received up to £2.3m of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit


Business Enterprise Support

Business Enterprise Support (BES) is a non-profit organisation that aims to help people, of all backgrounds, to become self-employed. BES has been operating since 1983 and now has bases in Burton on Trent and Stoke on Trent and offers support to people across the Midlands. BES offers support in the form of help applying for loans, as well as one-to-one business coaching from real business mentors.