New project launches to help get Tees Valley residents into work


An innovative project to support 2,500 people into work or training is launching in Tees Valley.

Step Forward Tees Valley, which is run by the Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) and jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund, aims to get local people into work and training.

The project is targeting people who have previously found it hard to get a job because of issues such as self-confidence, addiction, a conviction or ill health. A group of 23 partners and local employers have come together to help develop employability skills by addressing those barriers that have previously prevented people from finding work or training.

People can apply to join the project or be referred by an organisation they are already in contact with. Once accepted, they will be partnered with ‘a navigator’ who is with them every step of the way, reviewing what help they need and ensuring they get the right support from a range of specialist services, helping to build on their strengths. These services include: health, employment support, financial support, digital skills, volunteering, employer engagement, and enterprise.

Helen Collins, programme manager, said: “Working and training is about more than bringing a wage home, important though that is. It's about having a purpose, interacting with other people, feeling connected, providing role models and allowing people to have plans, aspirations and hopes for the future.

“We have access to a range of specialist services to help people build upon their strengths and aspirations to overcome some of the complex reasons that have prevented them from finding work in the past. If you struggle with self-confidence how can you access the right  training course? If you have a conviction how do you tell an employer so they will consider you for a post? These are the type of real issues people deal with and Step Forward can help. We are committed to working with our partners and the people of Tees Valley to make real and lasting changes.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the project is welcome to attend. If you think you, or someone you know, could benefit from the project come along on the day, visit the website or call 01325 387713. You can also find the project on Twitter @SFTeesValley or Facebook /stepforwardteesvalley.


Helen Collins is available for interview about the project. Please call Hayley Jones, communications and marketing officer on 01325 387713 or 0782 5797439 to arrange


1.    For more information about Step Forward Tees Valley, please contact Hayley Jones: or 0782 5797439 or Helen Collins:

2.    The Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) is an established partnership of four of the North East’s largest charities: Mental Health Concern, DISC, Groundwork North East and Cumbria, and Changing Lives The Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) partners are as follows:

·         Mental Health Concern:

·         DISC:

·         Groundwork North East and Cumbria:

·         Changing Lives:

3.    Information about Building Better Opportunities:

·         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 £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.

·         The project has received up to £[amount] of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and 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

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