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Community Support Fund (CSF)

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WECA - 24th September 2021

The Community Support Fund (CSF) is providing £1.5 million (as part of the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) wider Recovery Fund) to support residents most disproportionately affected by COVID, to achieve better economic outcomes.

There is overwhelming evidence to show COVID has affected specific groups and this fund aims to target the very real risk that those furthest form the labour market before the pandemic are now even more at risk from poorer health and wellbeing, economic, educational and employment outcomes. The fund will support residents, groups or communities who face the greatest impacts, risks and detrimental social, health and economic impact(s) as a result of the pandemic.

Funding will prioritise improving pathways to employment and skills for the most vulnerable in our communities. It will deliver grass routes interventions aimed at establishing progression routes for individuals into training, education employment and/or career progression. We are looking for activity which will improve:

  • Strengthened communities and social cohesion
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Financial inclusion and resilience
  • Opportunities to volunteer in projects that improve pride of place and environmental awareness

Funding will be awarded to voluntary and community sector (VCS) groups and projects that offer innovative solutions that strengthen inclusion, through targeted interventions that support one or more of the following:

  • Addressing the impact of COVID on people – helping to them to ‘rebuild’ (i.e. through new or improved life skills and access to advice, guidance and support), and gain the confidence to move closer to and/or into employment;
  • Local voluntary, community or not-for-profit organisational projects which help groups of vulnerable residents and communities across the West of England to recover (both economically and socially) from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Emotional and mental health wellbeing activities helping to foster social community cohesion that will have a legacy impact/benefit on communities post the pandemic;
  • Reducing barriers to accessing pre-existing adult education available within communities. Projects must demonstrate how they will support progression/pathways onto adult education which will thus in turn result in improved skills and access to employment and work opportunities with measurable employment and/or skills outcomes and progressions;
  • Outreach projects or services (either face-to-face or online) tackling social exclusion. Rather than being digital training courses (for which there is already significant provision across the West of England), these projects or services are likely to be specific, targeted and adapted to supporting the most vulnerable within our communities and addressing the impact(s) of social isolation; and
  • Promoting the current digital entitlement offer and provision to residents in the hardest to reach areas. This includes rural communities where inclusion and engagement can be challenging;
  • Raise awareness of and access to community and cultural activities which foster strong community links, cohesion and resilience. Projects will be linked and signposted to (where appropriate) to the Cultural and Creative Fund.

The CSF will support around 1000 residents and as a result of engagement with the programme:

  • 100% of individuals will be directed towards some form of employability, skills training and/or education.
  • 65% of individuals will progress into some form of employability, skills training and/or education.

Key to these projects is that they do not stand alone and there are clear partnerships with wider regional and national programmes which can help achieve the above for example; links to existing AEB funded provision, kickstart, Restart, National Careers Service, Work and Heath Programme Job Entry Targeted Support JETs, Future Bright to name just a few.

Download the Community Support Fund Word document for full details.

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