472 not-for-profit organisations entered projects aimed at helping people in communities across the UK and Ireland to improve their long-term prospects through financial capability and enterprise opportunities.
101 organisations were shortlisted and the public then had their say, with over 30,000 votes cast to help decide the eventual winners.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the organisations from across the UK and Ireland who will be receiving grants of up to £35,000:
1. Portobello Business Centre is a not-for-profit social enterprise, which has worked with the local community for more than 25 years to help people start up and grow their businesses. Its Paving the Way project aims to regrow community links which have disintegrated within North Kensington, following the fire at Grenfell Tower, by encouraging informal, lean, simple business start-ups.
2. Bawso provides specialist services for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people across Wales, including protection for those at risk of violence. Their Your Money Your Future project will provide 168 surgeries and nine training courses to help 948 vulnerable BME people in Cardiff gain knowledge, confidence and skills to increase their financial resilience.
3. Cantraybridge College is a further education establishment for young people with learning disabilities or autism in Inverness. Its Cantray MicroEnterprises project will provide training and support to 24 young people with learning disabilities and/or autism, enabling them to create their own microenterprises and earn their own income.
4. Good Shepherd Cork works with women and children who are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness, through projects including Edel House emergency shelter, the only homeless shelter in Cork which can accommodate children. Its Making Homes, Making Change project will deliver a package of literacy and numeracy resources, lessons and mentoring to give women moving on from the shelter the financial skills necessary to sustain their new tenancies.
5. Causeway Enterprise Agency’s social enterprise project The Designerie supports creative entrepreneurs with business mentoring and access to maker-space and business development, and provides a route to customers online and through a retail outlet.
According to the latest statistics available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), some 4.6 million people were classed as being trapped in a vicious cycle of ‘persistent’ poverty in 2015.
Thom Kenrick, RBS Head of Sustainable Banking Integration & Programmes, RBS, believes that, businesses like RBS have a role to play in helping to break this cycle:
“There are thousands of grassroots community organisations across the UK and Ireland doing fantastic work to help disadvantaged communities. By working together with these organisations through the Skills & Opportunities Fund, RBS is able to help more people to improve their money or business skills.”
You can read about all the winners and their inspiring projects on the Skills & Opportunities Fund website for NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank:
Applications are now closed for 2017, but the Fund will reopen in early 2018. To receive a reminder nearer the time, as well as other relevant updates, subscribe to the NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank NI or Ulster Bank ROI Skills & Opportunities Fund mailing list.