Million-pound boost for homeless employment initiative

Homelessness charity Off the Streets and into Work has won a grant of nearly £1m from the Big Lottery Fund for a programme of support for organisations that want to employ homeless people, or set up social enterprises or supported-employment schemes for them.

The four-year £895,000 grant will allow OSW’s ethical, enterprise and employment network, known as 3xE, to bring together organisations from across England to share resources and secure public and corporate funding.

The network will be launched in three regions – the south-west, London and the east midlands – but will expand into all regions by its third year. It will target regional infrastructure groups and local employment, training and homelessness organisations.

Linda Butcher, chief executive of OSW, said there were a lot of social firms and supported-employment schemes aimed at disabled people, but there weren’t many for people with “multiple labour market barriers and disadvantages”.

She said: “Homeless people are consistently identified in government and other studies as being one of the hardest-to-help groups when it comes to gaining or sustaining employment.

“However, much of the not-for-profit sector is inexperienced in commercial ventures and, despite the existence of Futurebuilders, there is much work to be done to clarify the role and sustainability of social enterprises that support homeless individuals, and to make them acceptable to funders as worthy causes for support.”

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