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Groundwork North East & Cumbria has been appointed to lead a £1.7M scheme to address the key barriers preventing people in Cumbria entering employment.

Choices, a Building Better Opportunities programme jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund until September 2019, will help remove the obstacles preventing individuals in West Cumbria entering employment.

Groundwork will lead a partnership of 12 voluntary and community sector organisations which have come together to support 450 of the region’s hardest to reach people to enter employment. Using on a one to one approach will allow Choice’s key workers to address the participant’s own individual challenges which prevent them from joining the labour force, with specialist health and wellbeing, finance, and digital training services designed to support their progression.

The programme will also offer specialist, bespoke provision for specific demographics, including care-leavers, ex-carers, those recovering from addictions and those with learning difficulties. In addition, Groundwork and its partners will offer volunteering opportunities for up to 100 participants to allow them to develop their skills in a workplace environment and gain meaningful experience.

Samantha Dawson, Cumbria Project Manager for Groundwork North East & Cumbria, said: “Choices takes a person-centred approach to support individuals into work. There is no one-size-fits-all answer when working with those furthest from the labour market, and each person has their own individual needs, which must be addressed before they are able to secure long-term, meaningful employment.

“Each and every one of our partners is committed to making a real difference to the lives of 450 of the hardest to reach people who are unemployed or economically inactive in Cumbria. The region has a relatively high rate of unemployment, and I’m looking forward to working with our partners to make inroads into changing that and help to make a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of those people who are currently disengaged from employment.”

In addition to Groundwork North East & Cumbria, the other partner organisations charged with the delivery of Choices are: Cumbria Youth Alliance, Impact Housing, West Cumbria Carers, West House, West Cumbria Mind, Millom Network Centre, Unity, Your Homes Derwent & Solway, Copeland CAB, Age UK West Cumbria and Mind in Furness.