European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes in Scotland: 2021 case studies booklet

A publicity booklet to celebrate and promote the achievements of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes in Scotland in 2021.

3. European Social Fund (ESF): case studies

i. Developing Scotland's next generation of scientists

The expansion and growth of Scottish Apprenticeships has been delivered
by Skills Development Scotland with
£75m of ESF support.

Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships have helped thousands
of Scots learn new skills, gain qualifications and work at the same time.

Thanks to her Foundation Apprenticeship with Charles River Laboratories, Annabel Stewart has made a strong first step in her career. During her time at the company's base in East Lothian, she has assisted with lab work and data compilation for real-life agrochemical studies using different soil types. The apprenticeship has given her vital workplace experience while studying to achieve a qualification at the same level as a Higher.

Eva Stott of East Kilbride became
Merck's first-ever Modern Apprentice at the company's Glasgow base in September 2019. Participating in a collective effort to create a vaccine for the coronavirus has been the highlight of Eva's apprenticeship, and she believes she is now equipped to pursue
long-term employment in the sector.

Since 2015 when the programme received its ESF allocation, Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships have been essential tools in boosting employability nationwide, helping to train the next generation of Scotland's workforce.

Thanks to ESF support, young people like Annabel and Eva have the perfect platform
on which to build a long and successful
career in science.

"I've been able to assist in the production of a vaccine for this pandemic and that's something I'm really proud to say I've been a part of." Eva Stott, Modern Apprentice

ii. Getting participants outdoors to improve wellbeing in Shetland

Shetland's Employability Pathway is an ESF-supported operation run by the local authority. It provides a work-focused health rehabilitation programme to help individuals with multiple barriers to employment better understand and manage their conditions, improve their quality of life and their prospects of moving into employment.

Readjusting to life after lockdown has been difficult for everyone, but Shetland Islands Council Employability Pathway team found that reintegration back into society has been especially difficult for their participants. Interacting with strangers after such a long period of disruption became a difficult barrier to overcome for their participants with neurodiversity or who have poor mental health.

To address this issue, the team decided to include more physical activity outdoors as part of their mental health and wellbeing provision. The positive mental health benefits of outdoor and adventure education programmes are well known, and because they are delivered in fresh air, the activities were not seriously restricted by social distancing measures.

In conjunction with the Local Authority Outdoor Education and Activities Officer, seventeen activities were delivered over a three-month period. The overwhelming feedback from participants has been positive, many of whom commented that the outdoor activities had increased their confidence, motivation and communications skills.

Thanks to ESF support, people with multiple barriers to employment were able to enjoy exciting outdoor activities that enhanced their wellbeing and might provide the confidence that they need to improve their employment prospects.

"It was awesome – I saw parts of Shetland I never knew existed" Participant

iii. Helping people with anxiety to study in Dundee

Enable Work's First Steps programme is funded by the National Third Sector Fund, which is managed by Skills Development Scotland and received a £22.2m ESF allocation. The programme assists people with multiple barriers to the labour market to help them gain skills, qualifications and/or employment.

Thanks to ESF support, Enable Works help people like Andrew, who is autistic and has social anxiety. Prior to his referral to Enable Works, he had successfully completed an HND in Game Development at a local college, but did not feel ready or able to make the leap into the world of work due to a lack of confidence.

With help from his Employability Coordinator, Andrew began identifying some of the barriers he would have to overcome if he was to secure his dream job in the video game industry. As his confidence grew over multiple meetings, they decided Abertay University offered the best course, and Andrew was supported by his coordinator to visit the university for an open day in an attempt to reduce his anxiety about attending.

While the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown knocked Andrew's confidence, his Employability Coordinator kept in touch via text messages and Zoom to make sure that they continued to have a strong working relationship. Andrew indicated that he was still keen to study at Abertay University, and his coordinator assisted him with his application, which was successful. Andrew has now started his university course and hopes to move into student accommodation in the next academic year.

Thanks to ESF support, vulnerable people like Andrew have been given the care, encouragement and confidence that they require to successfully enter higher education.

"I have really enjoyed the support and it has helped me feel less anxious meeting new people." Andrew

iv. Supporting Gaelic language and culture in South Uist

'Crossing Over' is a project delivered by Ceòlas Uibhist in South Uist that received a £116,115 grant from the ESF-supported Aspiring Communities Fund.

The project's main purpose is to explore opportunities where Gaelic cultural activity can be used to support vulnerable groups, promote inclusion, intergenerational opportunities, and facilitate active engagement through activities such as dance, music and movement to support physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

As the COVID-19 pandemic restricted
in-person events, Ceòlas Uibhist was forced to adapt the project's delivery model. To present online classes and events effectively, they established a Digital Tech team that uses broadcast-quality video cameras. Ceòlas Uibhist also developed the company's online presence, updating their website and implementing new digital marketing strategies.

Making best use of digital technologies, Ceòlas Summer School was able to deliver online classes for 95 students, teaching a range of subjects including piping, fiddling, step-dancing, singing, clarsach and Gaelic language. The organisation also organised the first live music events in the Western Isles since lockdown, attended by over 100 people in accordance with Level 0 restrictions.

Ceòlas managed to offer part-time employment to six under-employed islanders as part of the Digital Tech Team, and one eventually joined the organisation in full-time employment as the Digital and Technical Officer in October 2021.

Thanks to ESF support, Ceòlas Uibhist was able to deliver Gaelic culture and language classes online successfully, meeting the needs of its community and establishing a sustainable model for future delivery.

"The classes were engaging, fun, challenging and supportive, and Gaelic for All was a breath of fresh air." Participant

v. Aiding refugees and displaced people in Stirling

The 'Supporting New Scots in Stirling' project aims to provide a holistic service that includes money management, benefit advice, social inclusion activities and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses to the growing number of refugees settling in the Stirling Council area.

The ESF-supported project offers eligible participants access to specialist money support and training, often from the first day of their arrival in Stirling. One client that had been referred to the team had recently arrived in the UK under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement with her young daughter.

This person had lost her husband, had no prior work experience and had limited experience of education due to conflict in her home country. She initially found it difficult to adjust to life in the UK, which meant she was reluctant to leave the house or engage with others.

The 'Supporting New Scots in Stirling' team has provided a lot of practical support to the client to open her own bank account and register her child with school, a GP and a dentist. The team also helped the client with the process of applying for benefits and made sure that she received the full amount of social security support that she was due.

The client has been provided with intensive language support receiving both one-to-one ESOL support and attending online classes. She has now progressed to beginner level English and has even been teaching her daughter basic English along with Arabic reading and writing.

Thanks to ESF support, vulnerable and resettled people are receiving vital help so that they can support themselves and start a new life in Scotland.



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