A Lancashire-wide initiative that aims to enhance the skills and employability of those living in some of the county’s most disadvantaged areas has reached a milestone by supporting 5,000 individuals since 2017.
More Positive Together is managed by the charity Active Lancashire and comprises more than 20 partners located throughout Lancashire, including housing associations, local authorities, and third-sector organizations. It is made possible with funding from the European Social Fund.
People who are signed up to the project receive their own dedicated mentor from a partner based within their area, who helps them to develop an action plan to identify and overcome barriers to employment or integration.
Michelle Grimes, relationship manager for More Positive Together, said: “As our partners operate within communities all across the county and know their areas well, they are in a good position to identify and signpost people to the project who are most in need of the support. We are helping ensure that such people are given the opportunity to overcome what may be preventing them from working, with examples including a lack of access to training or work experience, employment gaps, issues of mental or physical health and more.
“Participants may then receive further support tailored to their needs, including free training, access to work experience and voluntary opportunities and attendance at wellbeing activities to help boost their skills and confidence.
"However, the project is not solely about helping people into work, as we often support people who are hard to reach, are in recovery or do not have the necessary skills. For some More Positive Together is a lifeline, giving them a reason to leave their house, engage with their communities, take on volunteering, access training and more. We are proud to be helping those across Lancashire that may otherwise be forgotten."
Of the 5,000 people who have received support, 1,300 have accessed training to improve their skills and 1,189 have entered employment or become self-employed as a direct result of the project.
Wellbeing activities delivered by partners include everything from free weekly sports, to outdoor expeditions, walking groups and more.
Rossendale Works is one delivery partner that runs regular activities. Their project lead Paul Becouarn said: “Our free sessions aim to develop teambuilding and a rapport between attendees and mentors, ultimately supporting some who would otherwise not engage or even feel confident enough to leave their homes.”
Jane Hearne, resilience manager at delivery partner Blackpool Coastal Housing, said: “More Positive Together’s tailored, mentoring-based approach and our in-depth knowledge of local communities means that we often support the people who lack the confidence to engage with employment programmes and look for work.”
Photo: More Positive Together mentor Wendy Smith from Blackpool Coastal Housing, talking to a jobseeker.