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25 Apr 2023

Building Better Opportunities scheme helps almost 9,000 economically inactive people to find work or training

An innovative programme that connects local authorities, businesses and other key agencies with the aim of tackling long-term unemployment has supported 8,908 economically inactive people across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The D2N2 Building Better Opportunities (BBO) scheme, which comprises three distinctive projects promoting social inclusion, has helped 1,102 of these individuals to progress into employment, assisted 864 into long-term education or training, and enabled 492 people to independently search for jobs.

Funded by the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund, BBO – which ended last month after six years – has been led by a consortium of voluntary and community organisations across the country.

In the D2N2 region, four stakeholder managers were employed or seconded to East Midlands Chamber and hosted within the four upper-tier councils, with a remit to co-ordinate the £31m programme across the wider employment and skills landscape.

The Chamber has also played a central role in connecting individuals with employers, and promoting an inclusive recruitment agenda among businesses that have skills gaps.

Paul Needham, head of employment services

East Midlands Chamber’s head of employment services Paul Needham said: “It’s fantastic to be able to reflect on the tremendous work of the BBO programme in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, where the lives of many people have been transformed because of the support it has offered them.

“Our stakeholder managers have been remarkable additions to the employment and skills landscape in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire over the past five years, generating new person-centric ideas and influencing system change in how we tackle the issue of long-term unemployment.

“At the Chamber, we have been keen to promote the inclusive recruitment agenda among the business community. With our members telling us about the skills shortages that are consistently holding them back from growing, expanding the labour pool to encompass people from a wide range of backgrounds can bear fruit by filling vacancies with employees who have received support to address barriers to work and turn their lives around.”

Building Better Opportunities projects

The three employment and skills projects are:

  • Opportunity and Change: A £9.8m support programme led by Framework for people with multiple and complex needs, such as homelessness, substance abuse, at risk of offending, mental ill health and domestic abuse victims
  • Towards Work: Led by Groundwork Greater Nottingham, the £14.6m scheme provides a personalised service to help people overcome barriers to work and take their first steps towards employment
  • Money Sorted in D2N2: Led by St Ann’s Advice Centre, the £6m project helps people experiencing financial difficulties to feel more in control of their finances.

Examples of the methods used to support people into work and training have ranged from funding for buying computer equipment in order to study for qualifications through to paying for dental treatment to address poor oral health that had been a personal barrier to work for someone lacking in confidence. Projects have also helped people who are homeless or ex-offenders into work.

In addition, the BBO programme has helped participants to wipe out more than £10m in debt and, on average, grew participants’ weekly disposable income from £18.62 to £92.17 over a six-month period through personal finance education.

Paul added: “These projects have provided us with many learnings, which we will take forward in our other workstreams within the Chamber’s employment support programmes, in which we work in collaboration with Government and work agencies to give people a helping hand into sustainable work and training.”

For more information about the Chamber’s employment and recruitment services work, visit