Rural Norfolk organisations invited to find out more about funding for skills and employment projects

13 September 2018

Funded by the European Social Fund and managed by Norfolk County Council, Local Investment in Future Talent (LIFT) is a £1.1m grant scheme seeking applications from community-based businesses and organisations in Norfolk and north Suffolk to deliver targeted employment and skills support in rural areas.

Training providers, voluntary sector bodies and small and medium-sized rural businesses are being invited to find out more about the funding opportunities available through LIFT at an information event on Wednesday 26 September from 1.30pm in Barnham Broom.  The event will showcase some of the projects currently being funded and will be an opportunity to discuss project ideas with the LIFT team.  Those interested in attending should register on Eventbrite or search www.eventbrite.co.uk for: LIFT showcase.

Cllr Barry Stone, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Business and Property Committee, said:  “The LIFT programme has already funded some really worthwhile projects that will make a difference in small towns and rural areas across Norfolk and north Suffolk.

“There is still around £400,000 of funding left to bid for so if you have an idea for a project that supports employability and skills please go along to the LIFT showcase event to discuss it.”

Projects eligible for LIFT funding will support businesses and community organisations outside of very urban areas to offer work trials, internships or work experience; or support rural residents into employment or self-employment.  The programme is also looking to fund projects that will reduce the cost of non-statutory training for small to medium sized businesses and voluntary organisations.

Grants from £5,000 to around £50,000 are available and all projects will need to secure 50% of their costs, either from other non-EU funding sources or their own resources.  South Norfolk Council and Broadland District Council have committed match funding which applicants can apply for.

Projects to already benefit from LIFT funding include:

  • Turning Factor - awarded £7,898 from the LIFT Skills fund to help develop the leadership and management skills of employees at nine separate enterprises based in Thetford
  • Clinks Care Farm, Tofts Monks - awarded £7,906 from the LIFT Trials fund to offer support to local businesses to enable them to offer work trials to individuals that they might not previously have considered
  • Harleston Information Plus (HIP) - awarded £28,811 from the LIFT Jobs fund to run their successful Jobs Club for a further two years and extend it to surrounding villages with ongoing support to otherwise isolated jobseekers

Linda Offord from Clinks Care Farm explains how they are using LIFT funding:  “Clinks Care Farm was successful in getting two grants under the LIFT programme.  The first, funded through LIFT Jobs, is enabling us to work directly with the Department for Work and Pensions to find participants for this project.

“The second grant, through LIFT Trials, is for us to engage with organisations and businesses who can take our LIFT Jobs participants into work placements and who may not have previously found employees through organisations such as Clinks Care Farm.  This is enabling us to link directly with local small and emerging businesses and organisations to help the local economy grow.”

Find out more about LIFT funding at www.liftprogramme.co.uk

LIFT (Local investment in Future Talent) is an initiative funded by the European Social Fund and managed by Norfolk County Council with the final decision on applications being made by the Local Action Groups (LAGs).

LIFT is a three-strand supportive grant programme for rural areas. It will invest in locally-based skills and employability support projects including:

  • LIFT Jobs: schemes for local unemployed or economically inactive people
  • LIFT Trials: support for local businesses to offer work trials
  • LIFT Skills: support for employed people to gain skills to progress at work

The Local Action Groups are local grassroots community committees which already allocate grant funding under the LEADER programme, part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) delivered via Defra. In the UK this fund is managed by the Rural Payments Agency and distributed via the Rural Development Programme (RDPE) for England.

LEADER ("Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale", meaning 'Links between the rural economy and development actions') is a ‘bottom-up’ approach which enlists the energy and resources of local people who come together as an empowered group to develop an area.

More information on the five regional LAGs can be found at www.norfolklags.co.uk.

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