VOLA, Sefton CVS and the Include-IT Mersey Team with ERSA’s ‘Team of the Year 2020’ Award

Include-IT Mersey is a Digital Inclusion project funded by the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund to support digitally excluded, workless people in the Liverpool City Region to learn essential IT skills to help them get into or closer to work.

Established in 2017, the project helps people to improve basic ICT and online skills, confidence and access to digital technologies, with the ultimate aim of supporting progression towards employment or further training, helping those furthest from the labour market to become more job-ready.

Led by Sefton CVS in partnership with VOLA Consortium and 14 other not-for-profit providers, the project has supported 1,299 socially and digitally excluded residents to upskill and move on in life in a more positive direction.

Our Partners include: Age UK Wirral, Alt Valley Development Trust, Big Help Project, Everton Development Trust, Greenbank College, Granby Toxteth Development Trust, Independence Initiatives, Rotunda College, Speke Training and Education Centre, St. Helens Chamber, Torus Foundation, Halton & St Helens Voluntary and Community Action, Good Things Foundation, Worker’s Education Association.

Supported by a 48 strong project team, to date, 563 participants have progressed to work, further training or active job search, with 174 currently on programme, surpassing total project targets.

Project Manager Stu McGrory said “My Board, members, funders and strategic partners always tell me that we never shout about ourselves enough for the excellent, crucial work we do to support the city region’s most disadvantaged residents; and we have certainly never applied for an award before!

But in recent months, with the challenging circumstances presented by the Coronavirus crisis, the way I have seen my project team – at all levels – proactively spring in to action to change the ways we work to ensure continued remote support for learners during the lock-down, has just inspired and encouraged me, and filled me with pride!  I have genuinely thought ‘what a team.”

For the Include-IT Mersey project, Sefton CVS, founding member and host agency for VOLA’s management unit, stepped up as lead body, pulling together the partnership and successfully applying for a large NLCF/ ESF co-financed grant.

The project has a 6-strong central management unit, with 39 staff in the wider project team, spread across 14 delivery partners.  The vast majority are front-line delivery with some back office roles.  We also have 37 volunteer Digital Champions who support and enhance the work of the project, who are equally respected and embraced as project team members.

VOLA said “So why do we think we are such a good team?  For a range of reasons, including: A shared sense of ownership and common goal across all project team members of our mission to help socially and digitally excluded people to move on in life.  We are committed, proactive and professional people – at all levels – who really care about the learners we support.  We pride ourselves on having an extremely positive working culture apparent across all partners/project team members – with high levels of trust, flexibility and responsive, constructive engagement around performance management & problem solving.”

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