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Project to support long-term unemployed in Leeds achieves early success


An innovative new project offering a range of support and training opportunities to long-term unemployed people aged over 25 is already achieving positive results.

This follows the award of a £4.9m European Social Fund grant from the European Structural and Investment Funds Programme (ESIF) to Leeds City Council and City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, which was match-funded by each authority to help reduce unemployment across both cities.

As part of its share of the funding, Leeds moved forward last month with the delivery of a £2.8m Skills Training Employment Pathways (STEP) project which aim is to help around 1,500 of the city’s long-term unemployed to move into and retain work. Already, a number of people have secured work through the STEP programme via training provider, Blue Apple Training.

These include David, who had been unemployed for seven years, and mum Julie, who was seeking a return to employment after bringing up a young family for six years. David is now working with Lexon UK as a warehouse operative and Julie as an employment advisor in hours that fit around her family. Both received a range of targeted support including help with C.Vs and interview preparation to assist their journey back into work.

Media opportunity:

  • Members of the media are being offered the opportunity to speak to participants who have now secured full-time employment through the STEP project. Please contact Leeds City Council press office on 0113 37 89170 to arrange.

Anyone wishing to apply to take part in the project must be over 25 and been out of work for at least 12 months. A key element of STEP will be to open up opportunities for those with health barriers, with specific support also provided to those aged over 50.

To find out more about the eligibility criteria and how to be referred or self-refer onto the STEP project, please call 0113 3784576 or email

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for employment, skills and opportunity said:

“We were delighted that the joint bid to ESIF with the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council was approved at the end of March. The council, and its partners, has worked quickly to commence delivery of our innovative STEP project which is already benefiting local people.

“Working with locally based partners, we have developed a range of support and skills activities that suit a wide range of needs to enhance the prospects of people who are unemployed, especially long-term, to access meaningful job opportunities.

“I would urge anyone aged over 25 and out of work to find out more about the wide range of support that is available through STEP to help them get back into meaningful employment.”

Tracey Morewood, operations manager, Blue Apple Training said:

“We feel very privileged to be part of this great programme. Our mission is to: ‘Uplift, rejuvenate and have a positive impact on all we meet.’ This is something that Blue Apple prides itself on doing and all our staff continually works hard to ensure this mission is carried out in everything we do.

“Blue Apple has been going for five years now and we love the fact that we have been a major part in helping our learners’ change their lives around through helping them to identify their barriers and work with them in a safe, enjoyable environment where they can overcome each one.

“We are certain that with the great support from Leeds City Council and our own ethos and drive, this programme will continue to go from strength to strength.”

European Social Fund

  • Leeds City Council and City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council has received £4.9m of funding from 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 (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) 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