Social enterprise the Wise Group is to launch a major new project to support employment in communities across Tyne and Wear.
The Wise Steps project has been awarded £7.2 million by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund to support people facing barriers to work in Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead and North and South Tyneside.
Wise Steps: Building Better Opportunities will target 2,000 people in neighbourhoods across the region. The key purpose is to assist people to access employment and work experience opportunities, support them to achieve qualifications and improve their wellbeing and life chances.
The programme, which will start later this year, will be available to all residents of Tyne and Wear who are of working age, unemployed or economically inactive, and have multiple challenges to getting into work.
The target groups will include unemployed people, people with disabilities, black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals, ex-offenders and lone parents.
The Wise Group will deliver the project with a diverse partnership of more than 40 locally-based organisations including specialists with expertise in assisting people in communities in the region. These will include experts with experience in employability, digital inclusion, financial inclusion and community enterprise.
The programme will be delivered with partners who will provide one-to-one support for participants with the focus being on a range of activities including, life skills, confidence building and skills development.
Laurie Russell, Chief Executive of the Wise Group, said: “Wise Steps will deliver support for people and communities that want to transform their lives.
“Our aim will be to combine proven methods of support with innovative ways of working so that we can reach those people who are most in need of help.
“The Wise Group has almost 20 years’ experience of delivering a range of projects in communities in the North East and we look forward to working closely with our partners on this latest initiative.”
The programme will support over 300 people that are currently out of work into employment in the Tyne and Wear area.
The Wise Group has been transforming lives through social enterprise in Scotland and North East England since 1983. It works closely with a wide range of stakeholders including Government, local authorities in England and Scotland, other social enterprises and private sector organisations.