Launch of Building Bridges Programme Across Swindon & Wiltshire

A launch event, held at The Corn Exchange in Devizes on Tuesday, 8th November, marks the official start of the new £3.9M Building Bridges Programme for Swindon and Wiltshire. The aim of the programme, which will run for the next three years, is to provide personalised support for those people who currently face the biggest challenges in accessing skills development and education or moving towards the world of work.
The event, which runs from 9:30am to midday, will provide the opportunity to learn more about the programme, understand how to access the support it is offering and to meet the partner organisations involved in delivering it.

Mrs Sarah Troughton, Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire and President of Community First will attend at 10am to officially launch the programme.

The Building Bridges Programme is led by Community First, Swindon and Wiltshire’s Rural Community Council, and will be delivered by a partnership of 40 local organisations with extensive experience in supporting people and giving them the skills and confidence they need to move forward.

The £3.9M local funding is part of the national Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme, which is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. The funding forms part of the European Structural and Investment Fund and is co-ordinated locally by the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The programme will run from November 2016 to December 2019 and aims to support at least 1,827 people across the region, with at least 29% of those moving into training or education and 21% moving into employment.

Taking part in the programme is entirely voluntary and all advice and support is offered free of charge.

For the majority of participants, the route into the support that the programme can provide will be via established agency referrals – but the programme also hopes to reach potential participants via a fully accessible website, www.buildingbridgessw.org.uk. Anyone over the age of 15 years old, who has the right to work in the UK and is currently working less than one hour per week, can participate in the programme.

Dave Potts, Community First’s Programme Manager, explains: “The Building Bridges Programme supports people on a one-to-one basis to help them address the challenges and barriers they are facing and to develop their own personalised plan in order to achieve their goals at a pace they are comfortable with.

“Each participant will have someone who works with them as a mentor, helping them to access support from across the partnership. These mentors can also work with family members, carers, key workers or other people who are already supporting participants to ensure a ‘joined-up’ approach.

“We understand that there are many different factors which affect whether people feel ready to take the next step forward. This is why we offer specialist help and support in a number of areas, including: developing physical and mental wellbeing, accessing debt and financial advice and help with issues such as transport and childcare.

“The programme is now in a position to identify and support participants, including those people who may feel that they have ‘fallen through the net’ in terms of accessing other routes to help. We hope the programme can transform the way support agencies work together to help people progress with their lives.

“If people feel that we could potentially help them, or someone else they help to support, we would really like them to contact us.”

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