Dedicate the time to try something new in 2022

7 January 2022

Written by Gayle Parker, Operations Manager

During the lockdowns, I think it’s fair to say that everyone developed a new skill. Whether that was painting by numbers, home-workout videos with Joe Wicks or multi-tasking, the extra time gave us the opportunity to branch out and try something new.

From managing workloads more effectively to embedding a little more creative flair into a project, that dedicated time allowed us to focus on ourselves and it shows.

The South East Midlands has seen growing employment, with higher employment levels than the national average. 80.2% of the working age population are in employment, above the 76% rate for England.

At the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), we aim to ensure that employment continues to grow, making the South East Midlands a place where people really want to live, work, visit and invest. To do this, we approach the skills agenda from every angle…

We work with schools to embed careers further into the curriculum, we work with partners to create clear skills strategies that identify gaps, we invest in capital projects that will facilitate greater skills development in the area, and we offer grant funding to community projects that help local people move closer to the jobs market (plus so much more).

Community Grants

One such funding programme is Community Grants. Launched back in 2019, the programme offers voluntary, community and social enterprises grant funding from £10,000 to £20,000 to support people to get back into work or training.

Opening for its final round of applications on the 10 January, projects should focus on supporting people to develop confidence and self-esteem and enhance employability and transferrable life skills; skills that have never been more important.

To date, the project has benefited over 600 local people. Examples of previous projects include:

  • 1mpact in Kempston, who’ve helped people that have English as a second language to build confidence, develop friendships and undertake training.
  • Community Needs in Luton has supported participants through a mixture of basic skills development classes, adapting their operations to be virtual during the pandemic.
  • Impactful Governance – Community Interest Company helped participants Zoom into new opportunities, teaching key digital skills throughout the pandemic.

The projects provide the perfect opportunity for people to develop new skills that will really benefit their future career decisions. Sometimes, you just need the dedicated time to push yourself to try something new.

From today, organisations can register their interest on the SEMLEP website to be notified when the application window opens.

Without realising it, our skills define who we are. With community more important than ever, it’s important that we continue to support each other. The Community Grants programme provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Unlike other grant schemes, the funding can cover 100% of project costs, meaning there is no cost to your organisation.

Start 2022 with your best foot forward and make a real difference for members of your community.

For more information, visit

The Community Grants programme is funded by the European Social Fund and managed by the Education Skills Funding Agency.