UK Steel Enterprise provides funding for community project creating training and job opportunities

UK Steel Enterprise provides funding for community project creating training and job opportunities
Keith Williams (white shirt) gets to work with the team from the Steel Valley Project.

A countryside management project in the north of Sheffield that provides training opportunities for disadvantaged people has received a massive boost with an award from the UK Steel Enterprise Charitable Fund.

The Steel Valley Project, (SVP) is a countryside management partnership based in the rural urban fringe of north Sheffield in Stocksbridge. The SVP’s mission statement is to help people care for, value and understand their local environment to aid the creation of healthy and sustainable communities.

By working with partners and landowners, the SVP develops a range of projects to look after key green spaces, nature reserves and footpaths in the Upper Don Valley. The majority of this work is achieved by volunteer trainees from local communities who learn countryside and conservation management skills through on the job training. The result is well maintained countryside for people and wildlife.

SVP was awarded £9,485, made up of donations from UK Steel Enterprise and Comic Relief.

SVP Project Manager, Matthew North says the grant has made a massive difference to the project. “We work with a wide range of volunteers who come to us to help them build new skills. They might be looking to change careers, retired, young people with little or no qualifications or struggling with health/social problems. SVP staff provide support and supervision to small teams, helping these volunteers to develop their skills and expertise in environmental management. This can include using chainsaws, winches, brushcutters and strimmers. Investing in people this way is expensive and we will be using the grant to cover expenses such as insurance and training towards qualifications.

It’s a massive boost for us to get this grant to pay towards these costs. We will also be able to use it to match fund against bigger funding applications, resulting in an even bigger impact for the funds from Comic Relief and UK Steel Enterprise Ltd.” said Matthew North.

SVP will also use some of the funding to subsidise the volunteers’ travel and work clothing, to reduce barriers to training as many of them are on very low incomes.

UK Steel Enterprise Ltd is a subsidiary of Tata Steel that invests up to £750,000 in growing businesses within the South Yorkshire area. It also has a Charitable Fund managed by South Yorkshire Community Foundation, which supports community based organisations that help to make a positive difference within areas that have been affected by the changes to the UK’s steel industry.

Keith Williams, Regional Manager for UK Steel Enterprise says that the SVP works really well with all sections of the community to bring about substantial and far reaching benefits.

“We are delighted to be able to support this project which provides both training and work experience for local people whilst contributing to the local community. Some of the volunteers have gone on to work in the environmental management industry and others have set up their own businesses as a result of SVP support and training. The project also engages with local schools to use and care for local green spaces and the wider countryside, providing a well-maintained environment for local residents and visitors. It’s a remarkably interconnected project that has plenty of benefits for the local area.”

“This has been a very successful application for us as we were able to match-fund the grant from UK Steel Enterprise to leverage in a larger sum from Comic relief. South Yorkshire Community Foundation has been working with UK Steel Enterprise for over six years to deliver much needed funding to our local communities. With its help we are able to make progress in regenerating local communities and fulfilling the needs of the area,” said Sue Wragg, Fund Manager for South Yorkshire Community Foundation.

SVP has substantial plans over the coming months that will see it use the funding to:

Positively manage and improve 23.1 hectares of local green space
Improve and maintain 11km of footpaths
Engage 12 volunteer trainees
Generate 3,000 hours of volunteer and community activity
Generate 50 training opportunities
See volunteers achieve 10 nationally recognised qualifications
Manage three community events
The SVP was established in 1988 and currently employs four people, three full and one part time. It is based at The ARC, Manchester Road, Stocksbridge in an area that has been heavily affected by changes in the steel industry.