Lancashire organisations invited to compete for a share of NatWest £2.5m community fund

Organisations from Lancashire are being invited to apply for a share of a £2.5m fund set up by NatWest.

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Monday February 1 sees the launch of the third round of NatWest’s Skills and Opportunities Fund, which is dedicated to supporting projects in disadvantaged communities that help people to help themselves by learning new skills, getting into the world of work or setting up their own business.

Charities, not-for-profit organisations and state-funded education bodies can apply for up to £35,000 each. The fund will distribute grants totalling £2.5m and is expected to reach more than 25,000 people this year.

The fund launched in May  last year and, attracted more than 1,800 applications from around the UK. A total of 20 organisations from across the North of England received a share of funding following a public vote.

Richard Topliss, chairman of NatWest’s North Regional Board, said: “The response for the Skills and Opportunities Fund in its first year was amazing and I’m hoping that the good news stories from some of our first winners will inspire even more organisations to apply this year.

"As well as providing funding, we’ve also been able to give further support through staff volunteering, so it really is well worth applying.

"As a bank we are committed to making a difference for the communities which need it most – helping people succeed by supporting enterprise, education and employability projects in disadvantaged areas. We are looking to support projects in our region that can deliver measurable social impact and make a real difference in our region.”

North Lancs Enterprise received funding to give 40 disadvantaged economically inactive people in the deprived areas of Fleetwood and Morecambe the life-changing opportunity to set up their own business.

Eligible organisations now have from 12pm Monday February 1 until 12pm on February 19 to apply for the Skills and Opportunities Fund. A panel of judges from NatWest’s North  Regional Board will then draw up a shortlist of local applicants, which will be put out for public vote between Friday, 8 and Friday, April 22 The results of the public vote will count as one vote alongside those from the judges. The winners will be announced in late May. To find out more about the Skills and Opportunities Fund, visit skillsandopportunitiesfund.natwest.com