European Social Fund (ESF) community grants are grants of up to £12,000 which enable small voluntary and community organisations in England (Scotland and Wales have their own ESF funds) to reach out to some of the most disadvantaged and excluded people and engage them in activities that can help them move closer to the labour market.
The community grant recognises that some workless people are a long way from the job market and are not ready for mainstream education and training programmes so project outcomes usually involve progression towards a job or further training, rather than the immediate achievement of a job or qualification.
The grants of up to £12,000 are available for local community and voluntary organisations with an annual turnover of less than £15,000 (Including Social Enterprises and Community Interest Companies providing they are not-for-profit organisations with social aims) that provide services to help people to improve their chances of obtaining work.
The grants can be used to fund a wide range of activities including:
- the removal of barriers (e.g. mentoring or first contact activities);
- non-accredited learning (e.g. taster work experience including volunteering, or help with basic skills and sessional training);
- ‘soft skills’ (e.g. confidence-building, presentation or communication skills);
- accredited learning for those who cannot be reached by any mainstream provision.
It is generally accepted that people who are in work are physically and mentally healthier than those who are unemployed, which is why these grants can play such an important part in improving people’s lives. Of course, once people are in work, employers have a responsibility to look after their health to ensure that they remain healthy and productive. That’s where the Health for Work Adviceline comes in! Free, professional advice on looking after the health of employees. Call 0800 0 77 88 44 to speak to an occupational health professional.