The Stronger Together Partnership Receives Funding Boost

 A READING-based project getting vulnerable people back into work across West Berkshire has been awarded £1.3million in funding from the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund.

The Stronger Together Partnership, which is a joint venture between Reading Borough Council, Wokingham, and West Berkshire – has secured the funding over a three year period to support economically inactive and unemployed people across the whole of the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP area.

The scheme, which will be delivered by the voluntary and community sector with the support of Reading Voluntary Action, is open to all eligible participants across West Berkshire, concentrating on the most deprived areas. It focuses on motivating those furthest from employment to engage in a range of effective and attractive opportunities to overcome barriers, generate an income, and subsequently improve their life chances.

Reading Borough Council’s Leader, Councillor Jo Lovelock, said in response to the news:

“While Reading is widely recognised for the strength of its economy, the story is very different in some parts of the town. This funding from the Big Lottery Fund will help to create opportunities for people in some of the more deprived wards where, for a range of reasons, people may be struggling to find suitable work. The award will provide some much needed support to the Stronger Together Partnership, to help the most vulnerable in society to get back into work and improve their life chances.”

Rachel Spencer, Chief Executive of Reading Voluntary Action said:

“This funding will provide a real opportunity to change people’s lives. The partnership includes charities and grass roots community groups along with public sector agencies and colleges. The participants will benefit from a creative range of support to build independence through learning a new trade, starting a small enterprise, training and real employment opportunities. The partners have a really good understanding of the challenges people face and we are excited to see what the partnership can now achieve with this award.”

Peter Read, Chairman of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP said: 

“We are delighted that this funding has been awarded to Reading Borough Council to provide targeted activities for employment to those furthest from the labour market. This project will make a significant difference in helping people into work and sustain jobs, training or education in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire. The LEP is committed to reducing economic inactivity throughout the region and enhancing the skills of the workforce, and therefore champions projects like these.”

James Harcourt, England grant making director at the Big Lottery Fund said:

“These grants will allow projects to provide life changing support, helping people most in need to overcome challenges and improve their long-term job prospects. As well as helping improve people’s immediate wellbeing, these projects will help participants to address the root causes of long-term unemployment. Thanks to National Lottery players and the European Social Fund, the benefits of this work will impact the rest of their lives.”

The award was made under the Building Better Opportunities programme, which sees the Big Lottery Fund matching funds from the European Social Fund to invest in local projects tackling the root causes of poverty in society. More information is available at


Notes to Editors

Useful Links

The Stronger Together partnership brings 19 organisations in Reading and West Berkshire, including Reading Borough Council and Reading Voluntary Action, together to help people in deprived areas to find opportunities.BLF

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. Last year it awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects 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.

For more information visit

The project has received £1.3million 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  


Victoria Nickless

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