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NatWest community fund winners

Cheryl Gourlay, NatWest Regional Enterprise Manager, with Michael Sharratt, Trowbridge Bike Workshop Manager.

Julian House will now be able to employ a dedicated employment support worker for its Trowbridge Bike Workshop thanks to its award of £22,479.

The charity is one of six not-for-profit organisations around the South West who are receiving a share of NatWest’s Skills and Opportunities Fund. The winners were chosen from more than 1,000 applicants nationwide.

The fund is dedicated to supporting projects in disadvantaged communities that help people to help themselves by learning new skills, getting into the world of work or setting up their own business, and it will share £2.5 million this year.

Julian House works across Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, providing socially excluded people with accommodation, support, skills development training and work experience opportunities to improve their life choices and chances.

Cecil Weir of Julian House said: “This support from NatWest will make a real difference to our work with some of the marginalised members of society. Julian House already has a good track record of setting up successful social enterprise projects. We know that they are an effective way to deliver valuable work experience and training opportunities for individuals with a history of homelessness, addiction, offending or long term unemployment.

“However, experience has also shown that promoting the benefits of the project to a diverse client group is really important, as is supervising the participants through training courses.  The funding from NatWest will allow us to appoint a part-time support worker to do this work.  This will mean more clients benefiting, much better prospects for their future and more progress for them back into employment.”

The winning South West organisations were chosen from a shortlist of 13 by a panel of judges from NatWest’s South West and Wales Regional Board, along with a public vote which counted as one vote.

Cheryl Gourlay, NatWest Regional Enterprise Manager, with Michael Sharratt, Trowbridge Bike Workshop Manager.Board chairman Haydn Thomas said: “It was a challenging decision because of the standard of entries we received. But the panel felt that the Julian House project could have a massive impact on the self esteem and confidenceof the individuals who will take part in the Trowbridge Bike Workshop, giving them a real boost in terms of skills and employability.

“Our congratulations and best wishes for the project go to Julian House, and I’d encourage anyone who wasn’t successful this time to try again when applications open for the next round.”

Thom Kenrick, Head of Community Programmes at RBS and NatWest, said: “We are delighted with the response to our new Skills and Opportunities Fund and pleased to support such fantastic local community organisations with much-needed funds to help their projects get off the ground or expand even further.”