ESFA Community Training Grants are all about empowering community groups to provide assistance to residents facing financial and economic hardships or those who find themselves very distant from the workplace. For some, this means facing unemployment, for others, they are coming out of a phase of economic inactivity, for example, a longer period of at-home caring for young children.

Each grant takes the form of a community group or local business providing training in some way to these target groups. And the learning can take on a wide variety of forms to serve different groups in need, all with the goal of getting individuals back into work or training, and increasing confidence. Some of our grants provide more traditional work preparation courses, such as CV creation, confidence building and interview prep, but some are more targeted, using a specific skill set training to build confidence and skills, with everything from lifeguarding to hairdressing.

In this blog post, learn more about BEST – an organisation which provides mentorship and confidence building programmes to its service users alongside running structured discipline sports clubs such as martial arts, boxing and fitness. Our partner at BEST, Craig Hiscox, shares this inspiring story of one of their recent trainees.

(Left to right: Jake and Frazer)

‘We signed up Jake in February 2022. Jake has ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition) and discontinued college in December due to poor mental health and anxiety. He has not been leaving the house, even to go to his boxing training. Since signing up with us this February, he has not missed a session and has asked to continue boxing, outside of his mentoring sessions, at his mentor Paul’s boxing gym. He has also expressed a keen interest in becoming a boxing coach via a traineeship.’

‘Our first participant, Frazer has ADHD and suffers from mental health issues. Frazer dropped out of school in year 11 with no qualifications and did not go to college but found work as a trainee butcher. In December 2021 he lost his job due to the pandemic, which found him reverting to old behaviour patterns and lacking the motivation to engage in job searching or attending boxing training. Since starting on our NEET programme, he regularly attends sessions with his mentor, has gained an AQA award in boxing and is now keen to gain qualifications in Maths and English, and has agreed to sign up for a Traineeship at the end of his programme with BEST this month.’

During a training session

Whether successfully supporting parents back to employment in Reading, helping Nigerian immigrants start their own online businesses in Dorset, or supporting the deaf community in reducing workplace barriers in Northeast London, our 171 project partners have been busy this winter helping individuals to improve or learn new skills to widen their prospects of becoming an active contributor in the workspace and integrating into their communities. With our round 13 projects selected and beginning this spring, we look forward to bringing you more stories of inspiration, confidence and newfound skills!