COALFIELDS BENEFIT FROM £3.6M BOOST TO ECONOMY The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has announced that its Coalfields Communities Investment Programme has supported more than 200 people into work in the last year, boosting the economy by over £3 million*. The Coalfields Community Investment Programme, a year-round initiative that is open to the English coalfields, provides community-led organisations with the opportunity to apply for funds of up to £10,000, which are used to support employment projects, improve skills or positively impact on the health of local residents. As a direct result of the successful applications during the 2016 / 2017 programme, which saw a total of £500,000 invested, those benefitting used the funds to provide employment for 219 people amongst a range of other positive outcomes. Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Head of Operations (England), Andy Lock comments: “The Coalfields Community Investment Programme is one of our most popular initiatives. We know the positive impact we have goes beyond the initial grant and that for every pound we invest the social return and value can be many times that. “Supporting more than 200 people into work is a real success story for us. Unemployment is an ongoing challenge within the coalfields, so knowing that people have an opportunity to work and to contribute to the local economy means that our efforts really are life-changing. “As well as supporting people into work in coalfield communities, we also lead by example and have become an accredited real Living Wage employer, meaning that we commit to paying a minimum hourly wage of £8.45. “We want to encourage others to consider doing the same. We appreciate that times are challenging with continuing austerity measures but we need to champion the coalfields and to ensure that wherever possible we are getting the very best outcomes for the communities.” The State of the Coalfields Report, an independent study which was commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust in 2014, shows that there are only 50 jobs for every 100 people of working age within these communities, further reiterating the impact that unemployment has on the aspirations and futures of residents across generations. The recession of 2008 had a disproportionate impact on the coalfields, which are still reporting some of the worst indices of deprivation in the country almost ten-years on. As a result, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust is committed to providing support and resource that is required to see the coalfields align with the national averages of other towns and villages throughout the country. With three clear priorities for action; employment, skills and health, which feature in the three-year strategy of the organisation, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has a renewed focus, which allows it to measure the outcomes of its work against the challenges that are most prevalent within the communities.