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Charities join forces to deliver innovative new project across Tees Valley

The Northern Inclusion Consortium is delighted to announce the award of a contract to deliver an innovative new project called Step Forward Tees Valley, which will support 2,500 local people across the Tees Valley area. The project is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.

The Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) is an established partnership of four of the North East’s largest charities: Everyturn Mental Health, DISC, Groundwork North East and Cumbria, and Changing Lives. Together they will engage with a range of partners, stakeholders, and local employers to deliver Step Forward Tees Valley.

Tees Valley has been hit by recent significant job losses, such as the announced closure of the SSI steelworks in Redcar, which have added to challenging economic conditions. However, there are also signs of improvement and new opportunities, with an increase in the number of active enterprises and new start-ups in 2016, and job vacancies increasing by 19% in 2015.

Step Forward Tees Valley will work closely with partners and local employers to ensure the participants are able to take advantage of these improving economic conditions, helping them to address their barriers, and to develop the employability skills required to progress towards, and into, employment.

To strengthen and complement the support offered to participants, the NIC will work with 23 local partner organisations to provide specialist services and expertise local to the area. This includes specialist skills and experience across a range of areas, including health, employment support, financial support, digital skills, volunteering, employer engagement, and enterprise.

Paul Hayes, Chair of the NIC Board, said:

Society is beginning to wake up to the decades’ long scandal of individuals and communities being left behind, excluded from the benefits of economic growth and the dignity of earning your own living.

Step Forward Tees Valley will address these issues directly, equipping individuals with the skills and support they need to take responsibility to provide for themselves and their families, and contribute to a more dynamic local economy that is able to deliver increasing prosperity for the entire community

Helen Collins, Programme Manager of Step Forward Tees Valley, said:

This is a really exciting opportunity that enables local organisations to come together and use their wealth of knowledge and experience to improve prospects for people who, for one reason or another, are not in training or employment.

We will work closely with our partners and stakeholders to help participants to address any barriers to their progress; this could range from improving confidence levels, through to specialist employment and skills provision. Each participant will develop a bespoke plan that builds on their strengths.

At the same time, we will be engaging with a range of employers and local businesses to ensure that the programme is tailored to the growth and needs of the Tees Valley area. The contract award represents a real investment in the Tees Valley area and potential for local charities to make a real difference to local people.



  1. For more information about Step Forward Tees Valley, please contact Helen Collins: or 0783 4652566.
  2. The Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) partners are as follows:
  1. Information about Building Better Opportunities:
  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
  • The project has received up to £[amount] of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit

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