Press Release: Building Bridges partnership announcement

by | Aug 4, 2016

A new £3.9M programme is now confirmed to help people in Swindon and Wiltshire move towards training and employment.

Community First, Swindon and Wiltshire’s Rural Community Council, has been successful in leading a partnership that has secured £3.9M funding, to help those facing the largest challenges in accessing skills development, training and employment in Swindon and Wiltshire.

The Building Bridges partnership involves over 40 organisations from the voluntary, statutory and private sector that have come together to help support those most in need. The £3.9M local funding is part of the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme, which is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.

The focus is on supporting those furthest from the labour market in accessing the skills development, education and experience they need to be able to achieve and sustain on-going employment. The programme will work with each person to develop an individual plan to support their aspirations, to be delivered at a pace that suits their needs. It will run from October 2016 to December 2019 and aims to support 1,827 people, with at least 29% of those moving into education or training and 21% moving into employment.

The target group for the programme will be those who are unemployed or economically inactive and facing multiple, complex challenges, and will be centred around five core thematic delivery groups:

  • Learning Difficulties and Disabilities
  • Over 50s Unemployed
  • Vulnerable Women (including Domestic Abuse)
  • Young People – not in employment, education or training (NEET) reduction
  • Workless Households and Families

There will also be additional support in a number of key areas, including mental health and wellbeing, volunteering, sponsored employment opportunities, debt and financial advice, financial training, transport, in-work support, employer liaison and childcare advice. In order to fully support participants, a series of programmes and courses will be made available and help will be tailored to people’s needs.

Dave Potts, Community First’s Programme Manager, says:

“Now that we have the funding confirmed, we will be working in a set up phase for the next few months and hope to begin taking referrals from September onwards. We hope the programme can transform and join up the way support agencies work together to help people progress with their lives.”

Building Bridges aims to give those people the tools they need to be resilient in the work place, ensure they have the skills and qualifications that employers are looking for and address the practical things which are barriers to successfully entering employment, such as lack of transport and self-confidence. As a result, the programme will be working closely with employers in the regions and also other agencies that can help to support people as they make progress.

Community First has brought together an extraordinary partnership of local organisations, including some of the county’s major employers, local VCS organisations, learning providers and public bodies to develop this programme – each dedicated to making a difference in their own ways.  Working alongside such competent, diverse and capable partners will enable the organisations to effectively tackle these issues more collaboratively.



Community First

Community First is a registered charity and a private company limited by guarantee. With the aim of strengthening communities, encouraging enterprise and tackling disadvantage across Wiltshire and Swindon, it provides technical advice, practical support and grant aid to promote local initiatives. Community First also manages countywide programmes bringing benefits to local people, informing and influencing policy makers in the development of rural policies and practices.

Community First is at Unit C2, Beacon Business Centre, Hopton Park, Devizes, SN10 2EY

Telephone 01380 722475.

Notes to Editors:

Big Lottery Fund

  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 it has awarded over £9 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.

Programme Funding

The project has received up to £3.9M of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit

Stacked Funder Logo