The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the only organisation dedicated to supporting former mining communities, has launched a new programme, Communities that Work, which it will use to meet with the diverse range of challenges faced by the 5.5m people living in the coalfields.

Recognising that every coalfield community is different, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has reviewed its previous impact, which has successfully engaged with more than 2m people, and has created a focus on three strategic objectives; employment, skills and health.

Building on the programmes that it has delivered and identifying areas that sit within the most deprived in the country, the organisation has committed to investing in five areas in this first phase of the roll out; Goldthorpe, Athersley, Westoe, Horden and New Bolsover.

Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) figures reveal that with a population of 11,650 people Athersley reports 42% of people with no qualifications, 36% of children living in poverty, 32% of people in full-time employment and 26% of people with long-term health problems.

In Goldthorpe figures show that of the 7,540 people living in the area, 38% have no qualifications, 38% of children live in poverty, 34% of people are in full-time work and 27% have long-term health problems.

The figures for both Athersley and Goldthorpe fall worryingly below the national average on all metrics highlighting that these communities are two of the most deprived in the country.

Communities that Work will become a campaign that will see the Coalfields Regeneration Trust direct its attention to these areas to pinpoint the challenges that each face. The organisation will then work to redirect resources, and where possible funds, to make a lasting and positive impact.

Working with strategic partners including Community Shop, the Communities that Work programme will liaise and engage with residents in each area before a package of relevant and targeted activities are agreed and delivered.

Lynda Chapman, Strategic Lead on Employment Skills and Training for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust comments: “We know that there is still a huge job to be done in the coalfield communities. We can’t just leave these areas to remain as some of the most deprived in the country. There are people who want to work, learn and lead a better quality of life and they just need some support to do that.

“The Communities that Work programme will bring together a tool kit of initiatives that have proven to be particularly successful in the past. For each of the five areas we have identified, we will create a bespoke programme to include a number of different initiatives that when delivered will make the greatest impact.”

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust will call upon its network of stakeholders and partners to support with the delivery of each programme. As an example, working with Community Shop in Athersley, the organisation was able to provide access to low-cost food for residents in receipt of benefits, while also creating a Success Plan to give those that are most vulnerable the support that they need to gain skills, qualifications and where possible employment.

Based on The Coalfields Regeneration Trust’s track record, its menu of activities could include:

  • Asset development such as creating new industrial space to support SME growth and job creation or facilitating asset transfers for the benefit of the community
  • Community engagement support to build relationships with residents, identify local priorities, build capacity and support volunteering
  • Employability support targeted at those furthest from the job market
  • The Coalfield Community Investment Programme, which offers grants up to £10,000 and a menu of practical help for organisations working to address the low level of employment, skills and health in the communities
  • Community Shop, giving access to low-cost food, while also providing a Success Plan for individuals that are most hard to reach
  • Social enterprise support, working with local people to encourage them to turn their passion into profit
  • Micro-grants to build capacity on the ground by offering seed corn grants to local groups
  • Game On, a sporting initiative that uses football to engage with young people to tackle anti-social behaviour and develop skills that can be used in later life

Chapman continues: “It would be inconceivable to think that every element of the Communities that Work programme would be required in all areas, but we have the experience to know what will deliver results and what will give these communities some aspiration for the future.

“We know how important it is to work with other organisations to redirect resource into the coalfields and that is exactly what we will be hoping for when we start to tackle these challenges head-on.”