The Cabinet Office is to invest up to £7.5m in bursaries to help recruits on its community organisers programme secure employment once their year-long training ends.
The government's community organisers programme is training 5,000 people to work in communities to create local networks and encourage local people to take action in their areas. Of these, 500 will be paid senior organisers and the rest will be volunteers.
When the programme was launched last year, the Cabinet Office said that the senior organisers would receive a £20,000 bursary only in their foundation year, and would then have to seek additional funding from sources such as foundations and local authorities when their training finished.
But a spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office confirmed in a statement that it was now making employment start-up grants of up to £15,000 to organisers who had completed their 51 weeks of training and who had raised the same amount in match funding.
"This will help these individuals take a step closer to becoming financially independent organisers in their communities," she said.
The grants will be paid to the person’s employer in a series of instalments. If all the funding is used, it will take the government’s predicted spending on the programme from £15m to as high as £22.5m between 2011 and 2015.
Thirty-two community organisers have graduated from the programme, according to Locality, the community development body that is managing the programme on behalf of the Cabinet Office. A second cohort of organisers is due to graduate at the end of November.
Jess Steele, innovation director at Locality, said: "These progression grants are crucial to help community organisers make the transition from the training year to independent local employment. We are delighted by the success of so many from the early cohorts at attracting the necessary match funding, and we're now being approached by new employers who can see how a qualified community organiser could transform their neighbourhood work."
Locality is setting up a separate organisation called CoCo to help support community organisers, provide additional training and develop the concept further. CoCo will be funded through a combination of membership fees, the sale of training and other entrepreneurial activities.