11 Jun 2018

25 organisations across Wales are set to receive a share of £3.5 million from the most recent round of the Active Inclusion Fund.

The funding supports organisations that work with unemployed or economically inactive people to improve their situations and help them move closer to the employment market. This could be by providing funded training opportunities, paid supported employment placements or supporting people to improve their confidence and motivation through practical activities. The activities and placements delivered by these projects are not set out by the terms of the grant scheme and it is up to the grant recipients to determine what would best suit their participants. As such, organisations that support individuals with learning and physical disabilities are a good match for the funding.

Down's Syndrome Association

A number of different disability organisations: Down's Syndrome Association, Wales Council for Deaf People, Disability Can Do Organisation and Leonard Cheshire, were successful in securing funding from the Active Inclusion Fund. The projects designed by these organisations will help lessen the disability employment gap, which makes disabled people twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. Through breaking down the barriers to the work place, volunteering and training and supporting disabled people, these EU backed projects are helping people to realise that individuals with disabilities are more than just their condition.

Leonard Cheshire works for a society in which every person is equally valued. They believe that disabled people should have the freedom to live their lives the way they choose - with the opportunity and support to live independently, to contribute economically and to participate fully in society.

Helen* is 24 years old and has a learning disability. She lives in assisted accommodation with another young disabled woman. For Helen, life was very lonely before she met her project officer at Leonard Cheshire and her only communication with others was via online gaming chat rooms. Helen had tried other volunteer work but had not stuck to anything due to various reasons such as support; travel; boredom.

"I wanted to make more friends and become better at speaking to new people. I wanted to be able to do new things with new people and not be so bored all the time. I can get lonely and sad sometimes. I can speak to my housemate but sometimes it's not enough and I can feel down.
"Before 'Can Do' I wasn't doing anything. My social worker had tried to find groups and so did the home I was in but I couldn't settle with anything. I didn't really enjoy the sessions as there wasn't anyone my own age there."

Helen was then referred to the 'Can do' project, which provides meaningful volunteering opportunities, life skills and independent living to people with disabilities. Little by little, through one to one and group activities, Helen's confidence grew: 

"I have developed a lot since being with 'Can Do'. I feel more confident and have made a CV; before I didn't have anything to put on it! I feel better about myself and feel that I have things to talk about. 'Can Do' has given me opportunities that I didn't think I would ever do. I am proud of what I have achieved."

For Leonard Cheshire, their newly acquired Active Inclusion funding will go towards enhancing the organisation's current provisions and services to support disabled people. The 'Changing Futures' project will empower disabled people to overcome barriers to employment, volunteering, and training opportunities. The project will provide bespoke support to develop essential skills and confidence through a series of interactive modules, facilitating practical, 'real world' scenarios and paid work placements to improve employability.

The next Active Inclusion Fund round will open in August. In order to be invited to apply for project funding, you will first need to be on the 'approved beneficiary list'.  You have to apply to be on this list by submitting an Eligibility Questionnaire (EQ) and passing a number of quality checks. The Eligibility Questionnaire is a rolling process and can be submitted at any time: however, please note the cut off date to be sure of a chance of being invited to apply for the August round will be 1 July 2018.


*Helen is a pseudonym