Last month we launched our five-year employment and skills strategy on the first National Coalfields Day (29th November) as part of our 20th anniversary celebration at the Priory Campus.
The strategy document calls for a £40m investment in former mining areas which could re-energise coalfield communities which have been forgotten.
Statistics from our recently released State of the Coalfields 2019 report, produced by working together with Sheffield Hallam University, show there are only 55 jobs per 100 people of working age in coalfield communities.
We want to create programmes that address our three priorities of employment, skills, and health and wellbeing. Calling for a £40m ring-fenced fund, we propose to invest in industrial and commercial property in coalfield communities to create jobs and longer-term aspirations for residents.
Gary Ellis, chief executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust said: “Meeting with the complex needs of our communities is no simple task. Every neighbourhood is different, and each has its challenges. What we want to do is to create the infrastructure that will return these small cities, towns and villages to the once thriving locations they were.
“These communities have struggled, and many would say have been forgotten. Becoming a battleground during the election, it’s time for the promises that have been made to be put into practice.”
The income generated from the investments would be used to support social impact activities, and for every £1 we invest, a social return of over £10 would be achieved.
For every £1m invested, we expect to support 200 people back into work, develop the skills and qualifications of 2,000 people, and provide 2,500 people with access to activities that will improve their health and wellbeing.
Ellis added: “It’s not good enough to turn our back on the coalfields. There are 5.7m people living in these communities. Residents could be contributing to the economic prosperity of the UK, but instead they remain within the 30% most deprived in the country.
“We have the evidence, we have the plans, we have a tried and tested model, we have the partners, we now need Government funding to scale up our activities and create a dedicated Coalfield Investment Fund that will be used to make a life changing difference to millions of people.”