Home Business NatWest announce changes to annual £2.5m Skills & Opportunities Fund to make...

NatWest announce changes to annual £2.5m Skills & Opportunities Fund to make a greater difference in local communities

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NatWest is set to give away £1m in the first of two rounds of Skills & Opportunities funding in 2017 and groups across Lancashire are urged to apply.

Since the Fund’s launch in 2015, grants of up to £35k have enabled 186 not-for-profit organisations to support people in some of the most deprived communities in the UK and Ireland. In total £5m has been donated to help people access the skills and opportunities required to gain employment, progress in education or start their own business.

This year, in order to maximise regional impact changes are being made to how the Fund is distributed, as well as to the eligibility criteria, which will ensure that funding reaches the causes that customers care most about. 

The Fund will continue to be open to applications from not-for-profit organisations including charities, community groups, social enterprises and state-funded schools and colleges in the UK and Ireland that help people to help themselves. However, the focus for funding will now move specifically to projects that support people in disadvantaged communities to gain financial capability skills, or to start or develop a new business, now or in the future.

Ross McEwan, CEO at NatWest, added: “Since we launched the Skills & Opportunities Fund in May 2015, we’ve had over 3,500 applications; shortlisted 367 of these and thanks to over 110,000 votes, we’ve awarded a total of £5m to 186 organisations.”

“As the Fund has evolved, we’ve taken the opportunity to make some changes. We hope that by giving the three new Funds more focus on enterprise and building financial capability in disadvantaged communities, we will see even more not-for-profit organisations applying and an even greater number of people voting for the causes they care about. It’s going to be a very exciting year, with lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved in making a difference.”

The window for applications is open from midday on Friday 3 February to midday on Friday 24 February 2017. Visit skillsandopportunitiesfund.rbs.co.uk to find out more. We will be launching an updated website soon – when we will also be bringing you updates on how previous winners have used their funding to make an impact in their communities.

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Andrew Mann
After 34 years working in numerous operational and communications disciplines for three FTSE companies (Yorkshire Electricity; Meggitt and BAE Systems), at over a dozen locations, on 24 November 2016, I became the inaugural editor of Business Lancashire. Business Lancashire is a good news, Lancashire focused, business website and daily newsletter. It is a partnership between The Samuel James Group and the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, I have written hundreds of press releases, features for trade magazines, copy for websites and brochures, edited in-house magazines and newsletters, as well as presenting a radio programme on Chorley FM. This experience has given me the ideal background for editing Business Lancashire.