Summer 2019 European Social Fund (ESF) Newsletter

Wednesday 19th of June 2019 11:35 AM

Welcome to the Summer 2019 European Social Fund (ESF) Newsletter that has been produced by Coventry & Warwickshire’s ESF Technical Assistance Team. 

In this edition, we bring you up to date on projects launched through the 2014-2020 ESF Programme in Coventry & Warwickshire to raise skills levels within our workforce and support local residents to access employment.

We’ll also give you some interesting examples of what this funding is achieving for our local residents and businesses.

ESIF Funds and EU Exit

The Government has updated its technical notices following on from the extension of Article 50 until 31st October (or earlier if the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration are passed by Parliament.  Government has also released the following statement.

Leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government's top priority. The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the Government means that the ESIF Funds will continue to support our growth plans until the programmes end. So that you can continue to invest with confidence and certainty, the Government has guaranteed that if we leave the EU without a deal, we will continue to fund all ESIF Funds projects that would have been funded by the EU under the 2014-2020 programme period. The recently updated Technical Notices provide further information on how this would affect you if you already get funding from an ESIF Fund or want to apply for funding.

Opportunity to bid for European Social Fund money to support young people

The DWP has launched a call for projects which support young people in Coventry & Warwickshire.  The support should result in participants entering work or enrolling onto education/training provision.  Age range is 15-24 years old.

Read more about the call

There is £2m available to bid for.  Projects need to have match funding i.e. put in an equal amount of money.  Also to note is that DWP have a strong preference for projects that bid for no less than 25% of the funds available.  This may mean that a consortium bid or bids may be needed and we are more than happy to act in a brokerage capacity if that will help.    
The opportunity will close on 11th July 2019.

Please feel free to share this information and if you have any questions please contact:

Community Grants now open

ESF Community Grants, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), is a brand new programme that aims to support small and voluntary organisations with grants of £5,000 - £20,000 for local initiatives that will move unemployed people towards employment, training or back into education.

The programme is being managed by Groundwork across Coventry & Warwickshire, and applications are now open at:

New provision for Young People - Kick Start Your Ambition with Work Pays​

An individual, tailored package of support using our ’4 Steps to Progress’ programme aimed at eligible NEETS. Using a mix and match of pastoral and vocational training whilst providing the learner with access to Support Workers and Tutors leading to a positive progression. ​ The programme aims to raise the understanding of the World of Work and training, and consists of a core of functional skills with embedded elements available. Bespoke coaching and mentoring leading to either employment, education, apprenticeship or traineeship.

Call 0800 1979826 or visit:

ESF In Action - Case Studies​

Skills for Growth support for SJG International

A Warwickshire market leading manufacturer and family run engineering business has turned to Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber Training for support and advice on how to optimise skills and productivity across its workforce.

With over 40 years’ experience within the manufacturing industry of producing foam conversions, rubber extrusions and gaskets, SJG International is a family run business with 2nd generation leaders, Robert James and Lucy Simpson.  Based in a large manufacturing unit in Alcester, Warwickshire the team are just as passionate about the business moving forward to reach its potential as when it was first set up.

Justin Conner, Production Manager at SJG International, commented: “There have been a number of key factors affecting our business.  It’s an industry wide issue that lead times on sourcing of raw materials is taking much longer therefore we are stock piling some of our popular products in order to maintain delivery lead times and ultimately our customer service levels.  This has led to a greater awareness of forecasting and planning along with the ability to manage orders more effectively.

“Our strategic planning included the introduction of some key staff members which has led to a greater flow of communication and information at all levels within the business including a closer awareness of all sections of the business and how they all inter-relate to each other.  There is also a greater understanding of the need to optimise processes.

“We turned to Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber Training for support in identifying skills gaps within our business which lead to qualifications. We were able to access ESF funding through Skills 4 Growth with C&W Training in order to help support and improve team skills.  We enrolled three team members on the ILM Level 2 Award in Leadership and Team Skills with an additional two people booked on future dates.  Guided by Natalie Lane, our account manager we were able to start making more solid plans for the future of our team and business.”

The ILM level 2 Award in Leadership and Team Skills is designed for team leaders and supervisors to develop management skills, enhance team performance and explore leadership styles.  It offered the supervisors at SJG International some common ground and a frame of reference as well as increased confidence in their own abilities.  There has been an increased awareness that SJG International is investing in personnel and communication has improved. 

Rob accelerates back to employment thanks to specialist support​

A Nuneaton man who was suffering from depression and sleep apnoea is on the road to recovery after securing a job following support from Accelerate.

Rob Cartwright, who is 60 years-old, turned to the specialist employment initiative after finding himself in one of the worst times of his life, with his confidence low and no sign of getting back into work. The former architectural technician was assigned a dedicated Journey Guide to help him identify some of the barriers he was facing and, importantly, come up with a simple action plan he could follow to start taking steps in the right direction.

This initially involved signposting him to Valley House, where he worked with some of the organisation’s experts to help him manage his depression, before he embarked on a number of confidence building courses.

“I was in a pretty bad place mentally and physically with the sleep apnoea, so really needed something to change,” explained Rob, who is a big motorbike enthusiast. “A friend told me about Accelerate, but I didn’t really know what to expect. From the minute I sat down and started to discuss my situation, I immediately felt more positive about the future.” He continued: “The first part of the plan was to get support with my depression and that’s where Valley House played such an important role. Getting my head in a much better place gave me the chance to start looking at what I needed to do to build my confidence and gain new skills to help me back into employment.”

Accelerate, which is part of the ‘Building Better Opportunities’ Programme and run by the Coventry and Warwickshire CDA, managed to secure Rob the opportunity to volunteer as a minibus driver for the Volunteer Friends in Bulkington.   This proved a huge success in helping him regain his confidence and communication skills, whilst also paying for him to take his MiDAS personal minibus driving test.

Maxine Wykes, Accelerate Journey Guide, added her support: “When Rob first came to us, he was so shy and wouldn’t get involved in group discussions. By listening to him and realising how many skills he has and his great personality, we knew we just had to put together an action plan that would help him tackle his depression and get his confidence back.

“It’s great seeing how far he has come and you can clearly tell the counselling, volunteering and the improvement courses have all played a role. We have even supported him in getting part-time employment with Coventry City Council, making sure the role is ‘permitted hours’ so he can keep his ESA benefit and make the transition into full-time work a gradual process.

“The real Rob is back and we’re going to continue to keep in touch, supporting him with the next steps on his journey.”

Rob is now working as a minibus driver five days per week, picking up and taking children back from school. He’s really enjoying the job and has also maintained his role as a volunteer at the Volunteer Friends, where he now looks after ‘odd jobs’ as well as being one of their main drivers.

“The difference in two years is nothing short of amazing. Whilst I still have bad days, overall I’m really enjoying life again and have got my passion back for motorbikes and wanting to get back into work. Accelerate has been great and I highly recommend it!”

Funded by the Community Fund and the European Social Fund, Accelerate brings together partners to provide each participant with a Journey Guide to access confidence building, work experience and skills enhancement, including training on IT, Literacy, Numeracy and Enterprise, as well as providing ESOL and other tailored support for individuals.

Over 900 people in Coventry and Warwickshire have so far been supported towards getting back into employment thanks to the pioneering £3m initiative, surpassing many of its targets for helping disadvantaged individuals overcome barriers preventing them from getting a job or securing self-employment.

Accelerate has recently been granted an extension until September 2022 which ensures the project can continue to support unemployed people in Coventry and Warwickshire for another three years.

For further information, please visit or follow @AccelerateCW on twitter or facebook

For more information about the European Social Fund and the Operational Programme for England please visit:

The ESF Technical Assistance Team would welcome feedback on this newsletter.

To provide feedback, or to find out more about ESF in Coventry & Warwickshire or how the team could help you develop your project ideas, please contact:

Marzena Kubiak, email:

Helen Hunt, email:




Category: Funding