HUNDREDS of people in Barrow and South Lakeland have been supported by an initiative while out of work.

The 'Building Better Opportunities' project started in October 2017 and finished in June this year, with the results just being announced.

It was reported that 42 per cent of the more than 500 individuals involved left the project with a positive change in their employment status.

One person said: "I work 30 hours a week now and am really enjoying it.

"Before BBO, I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel but, as a result of the project, I have a job and hopefully the future is going to be bright."

Education and training was also undertaken by one in four participants following 1-on-1 and group meetings.

Both areas were chosen as the site for the project because of high unemployment rates, with 33 per cent and 17 per cent of the working age population economically inactive in Barrow and South Lakeland respectively.

The national average is 22 per cent and Barrow is ranked ninth out of 317 local authority districts in the country for ‘local concentration’ of deprivation.

The BBO 'My Future' project worked with individuals who faced multiple barriers to employment and who were furthest removed from the labour market.

One participant said: "I haven't worked for six years.

"I lost my job because I was unwell and I had a mental breakdown because of what happened."

Roughly one in five participants lived in jobless households with children while one in five were former offenders.

The goal was to support them in playing a greater, more productive role in their communities, demonstrate increased skills and confidence and be much more likely to consider employment or volunteering as a viable prospect.

According to the lead organisers, Cumbria CVS, the main purpose of the initiative was to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those involved, rather than strictly financial benefits.

Currently, there is no future funding confirmed for a similar partnership to further help the community, with the partnership awaiting the outcome of its UK Shared Prosperity application.

The full summary report can be found at: