£2.4M to tackle unemployment in rural Leicestershire for those most in need

A partnership of 8 voluntary and public-sector organisations led by local sight loss charity Vista have been awarded £2.4m funding from the European Social Fund and Big Lottery Fund through the Building Better Opportunities programme.

The Work.Live.Leicestershire (WiLL) partnership will help over 500 people who are unemployed or economically inactive and living in rural Leicestershire move into job search, training, or employment.

After consulting with over 200 people across rural Leicestershire, the programme will focus on filling gaps in current services, providing access to holistic, tailored support and break down the barriers to people entering work or learning.  

Working across rural Leicestershire, the programme will help people to improve their health and wellbeing, gain skills and work experience, and have improved confidence, motivation and social engagement. 

The programme will also work with employers to identify and develop supported employment opportunities and to embrace inclusive recruitment.  As well as helping people move into job search, training or employment, the programme will also enable and facilitate local people to start their own business through a business advice programme.  

The programme will run from January 2019 to June 2020.

Dr Jamie Mackrill, Director of New Opportunities at Vista said:

“We are delighted to have been awarded the £2.4 million from the European Social Fund and the Big Lottery Fund’s Building Better Opportunities programme. The money means we can support people furthest from the jobs market who live in rural Leicestershire by providing holistic support to meet their need. We can also build links across the county with employers to make access to work more inclusive for these people as well as encourage people to start their own ventures that benefit the local community and economy. We have a great partnership with real local knowledge of Leicestershire and will work together to build a better infrastructure in these areas.” 

James Harcourt, England Grant-Making Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said:

“We are proud to be funding this project, which has put people who will benefit at the heart of designing the programme, so they receive support that is tailored to their needs. Thanks to National Lottery players and the European Social Fund, people in Leicestershire will be provided with the opportunity to learn new skills, helping them move closer to employment and training.”  

About Work.Live.Leicestershire 

Work.Live.Leicestershire (WiLL) is one Building Better Opportunities programme being delivered in 38 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas, according to local priorities, which have been set by the LEPs themselves.  

Work.Live.Leicestershire (WiLL) is a partnership of 8 organisations; Vista, CASE, De Montfort University, Leicestershire County Council, Prince’s Trust, Rural Community Council, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire, and Workers’ Educational Association.  

For more information about the project, contact Dr Jamie Mackrill on Jamie.Mackrill@vistablind.org.uk or call 07715 078 849.


Nationwide Community Grants

Grants of up to £50,000 are available to support charities that help vulnerable people with their housing needs.

To discuss an application, please call Heart of England Community Foundation (HoECF) who are managing the grants programme on 024 7688 3297. HoECF will be holding two phone-in Funding Surgeries where potential applicants can speak with a grants officer about their funding needs.

The two phone-in dates will be held on:

  • Wednesday 14 November from 10am to 12 noon
  • Wednesday 28 November from 10am to 12 noon

To book a slot please e-mail: sue@heartofenglandcf.co.uk


Trustees Week 2018: “I wanted to be able to give something back to that community which I am so proud to be from”

Mohamed Esat is VAL’s Treasurer. As part of Trustees Week 2018, we asked him to tell us about his experience of being a trustee and why he decided to become a trustee in the first place.

When I was growing up in inner city Leicester in the 1980s, I witnessed the hardships faced in terms of economic deprivation, unemployment and lack of educational attainment by those I grew up around and those parents who were first-generation migrants from the Indian sub-continent and Africa in the 60s and 70s. 

My parents encouraged me at school and, as my family’s situation improved, I was extremely fortunate to go on to college and University and eventually get a training contract with a local firm to study towards a professional accountancy qualification.

My experiences through those formative years have stayed with me and kept me grounded (and very much still do) and I saw that many of my peers still faced those challenges. I was lucky to have had an opportunity which gave me access to a career that rewarded me and gave me direction.

I wanted to be able to give something back to that community which I am so proud to be from.

I was never someone who felt confident enough to, say, fundraise for worthwhile projects to help those in poverty, support the welfare of animals or support cancer awareness, all of which are worthwhile and fantastic work. Instead, I wanted to use some of the skills I had gained in pursuing my career choice to help charities in a more general sense. Finance/accountancy was the area I was comfortable with and I wanted to use those skills to help charitable and voluntary organisations in Leicester.

I began in 2010 by supporting a local charity/umbrella body whose purpose was to promote the interests of the Muslim Community of Leicester with local and national government and statutory bodies across areas of safeguarding, health and social care, community cohesion and interfaith work. In 2011, I became part of a Leicester-based interfaith charity promoting interfaith work and was appointed as Treasurer.

In 2013 I joined the board of Voluntary Action Leicestershire as a trustee/board member and  became Treasurer in 2016, supporting the organisation to achieve its strategic aims and providing financial governance to the board. 

These opportunities allow me to support organisations to help make a difference to people’s lives for the better, and for me this is extremely rewarding.

I don’t have the skills to fundraise but I can use my knowledge and background in finance and accountancy to help the organisation to help its service users. 

Equally, I have learnt so much about governance, financial management and stewardship that I would not have from my main career. Yes, there is a time commitment, but the value I get from working with people that are so passionate about the voluntary sector is priceless and immeasurable. There is so much fantastic work that often goes unrecognised, but the fact this work is making a difference to people’s lives is extremely rewarding and enriching. Along the way, I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and made some really good friends. I have even had the opportunity to attend Her Majesty the Queen’s garden party, which I could never have experienced if I was not involved in voluntary work.

There are so many charities in the sector that are crying out for trustees to assist with governance and to bring commercial sector experience to their organisations.

As the pressure on finances is ever-increasing due to funding constraints and increasing costs, the importance of a strong and engaged trustee board is crucial to the longer term sustainability of so many of our charities. As one of my colleagues once said to me, if there was no charitable/voluntary sector, imagine the pressure that would put on already-stretched local and central government and statutory bodies to provide these same services, potentially resulting in an entire generation of clients that would not have have the quality of services that they so desperately need to enrich their lives and improve their wellbeing. 

This is is why I became a trustee. 

I currently sit on four trustee boards and I am really passionate about what we do, but we need more people to get involved as trustees. Why not see how you can help others improves their lives for the better?