The ESF Community Grant Programme is already helping many people in Greater Manchester who face additional barriers in the workplace to improve their employability and gain employment. Their Step Ahead Round of grants is now live.
The Step Ahead round seeks applications from a wide range of voluntary organisations who are ready to reach out by using approaches which tackle the new and emerging barriers arising from the impact of COVID 19, working both remotely and within social distancing requirements, once restrictions are eased. 
Small grants of up to £20,000 are available across Greater Manchester to eligible organisations in the VCSE sector. Projects should look to develop and maintain participant connections to learning experiences. Project activity should support, maintain and improve participant employability and resilience. Activities should develop and actively deliver progression routes into employment, Further Education and training for participants
All project activity must be within the current government COVID restrictions, but should include flexibility to adapt as and when those restrictions change in future months.
The funding can help ALL who are out of work or economically inactive but especially those that:
  • Are homeless or at risk of being homeless
  • Have low or no qualification
  • Lack literacy and numeracy skills
  • Are lone parents
  • Have disabilities, learning difficulties or health conditions
  • Are from ethnic minorities
  • Are aged over 50
  • Young NEET people [aged 16 and above]
This programme covers the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, and all eligible participants must live in Greater Manchester.
Deadline for applications –  8 a.m. on Monday 26th April 2021
For further information and to download the application form and guidance please visit the website: 
For questions on eligibility and further guidance, please email