Building Better Opportunities Lancashire

Lancashire’s Building Better Opportunities projects were delivered exclusively by social enterprises and community organisations. As Lancashire’s social enterprise network, we are proud to have led this specialist partnership whose work transformed lives of people across Lancashire.

Building Better Opportunities (BBO) was a national programme investing in local projects that tackled the root causes of poverty, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth. The programme was funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020. In Lancashire, this programme began delivery in 2016. Following two extensions to each of the 3 projects the delivery continued until March 2023 and the programme is now closed.

For the 3 partnership projects, over 7 years, Building Better Opportunities brought a total of £17.68M into Lancashire over the lifetime of the programme.



Selnet led three specialist partnership projects that delivered support across Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen. There were other BBO programmes across the UK, but ours were unique in being delivered exclusively by over 30 Social Enterprises, Voluntary Community groups.


‘Age of Opportunity’
was designed and delivered to meet the needs of over 50s who were out of work and furthest from the labour market to improve their skills and employment opportunities.



‘Invest in Youth’ was designed and delivered to tackle barriers faced by young people between the ages of 15-24, and supporting them to move closer to employment, education or training.



‘Changing Futures’ was designed and delivered to support unemployed or economically inactive people who faced multiple and complex barriers to employment and at high risk of social exclusion, and move towards work and training.



The Building Better Opportunities programme was dedicated to improving the prospects and wellbeing of people who were struggling with the kinds of complex barriers that make them ‘hard to reach’ for mainstream employment and training support services.

Barriers included issues around low mental health, self-esteem and confidence, health problems or disabilities, caring responsibilities, debt, low or no skills, access to childcare, BME, LGBT, chaotic lifestyles and substance misuse. Participating in support from these projects was voluntary, free to access and did not affect rights to benefits.

Lancashire’s three Building Better Opportunities projects were designed and delivered to support participants by tackling complex barriers and accessing specialist services. This could take 6 months, to 2 years or more for participants to be in stable circumstances and able to look ahead.

Each partner brought specific expertise in supporting disadvantaged people, and combined to provide individually tailored support, helping each participant to understand, address and overcome a wide range of barriers that they identified would help them the most.

In 2022 we had short films made looking over our Building Better Opportunities programme delivery in Lancashire: on the Purpose, Partnership Working, Project Management, Emotional Support, Participants’ Perspectives, Flexibility and Life Changing Impacts of the projects. Click here to watch these.


Our ‘Job Search’ statistics show outcomes from a comprehensive journey:

Each participant included in our formal project targets of ‘Job Search’ had reached a key milestone from a comprehensive journey. A raft of interventions were enabled for participants who were ‘furthest from the labour market’ and held back by complex circumstances – including domestic violence, housing instability, physical disabilities, mental health barriers, PTSD, addictions and chaotic lifestyles.

The wide variety of skills and experience of our Project Partners’ staff teams enabled direct support to be tailored for individual participants. From their work to overcome challenges, participants could look ahead towards a fresh start, based on their interests: through coaching and mentoring, developing personal skills and building self-confidence, attending training courses and building qualifications and developing their CVs – altogether enabling participants to be able – and willing – to actively search and apply for jobs.



Progression from 2016

Initially, 3 years’ funding was secured for 3270 disadvantaged people to benefit from tailored support to overcome complex barriers and move towards work and training. Early in the programme we commissioned a social enterprise filmmaker to capture the impacts of the programme from the perspectives of delivery partners and participants: click here to watch these on YouTube.

As a result of the successful delivery of these 3 projects, in 2019 our funding was extended to 2021. Across the three projects, this allowed a further 1331 disadvantaged people to receive support through the programme in Lancashire.

In 2021, we had a further extension to each project, to continue support until March 2023. The overall target for Building Better Opportunities Lancashire’s was to support 5697 people who were furthest from the labour market to move closer to employment, education, training and job search.

At March 2023, when the programme closed, Lancashire’s 3 Building Better Opportunities projects had engaged and supported 6544 people with barriers to work. With this specialist support for each individual, and new skills, confidence and opportunities, 2407 people had started work or self-employment, entered education, started a training course or were able to actively search for work, to pursue their interests and fulfil their ambitions.

Here are some of the people whose lives have been transformed by the support they have received:



Selnet’s Role to enable our sector’s work

Selnet led a 12-month process of developing three Lancashire-wide partnerships to provide specialist employability and skills support to disadvantaged people. Two projects began in August 2016; the ‘Age of Opportunity’, supporting the over-50s, and ‘Invest in Youth’, supporting young people aged 15-24. The third project, ‘Changing Futures’, began in February 2017 and supported people with multiple and complex barriers to employment. 

Selnet’s work is to enable opportunities, secure funding and manage contracts, so that frontline organisations can focus on delivering their specialist services. In 2019, Selnet were successful in securing extensions to all 3 partnership projects – and again in 2021, bringing a total of £17.68M into Lancashire over the lifetime of the BBO programme.

Background Information on European Funding in Lancashire

The 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme provided funds to help local areas stimulate growth. The funds supported investment in innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs.

A single ESIF Growth Programme was set up to combine three separate European Funds. The Growth Programme provided funding to help projects in England that created jobs and economic growth.



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