Maximising Economic Potential Project (MEP) through to the second round of applications for £5.2million of National Lottery funding

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Leicester and Leicestershire’s Community Organisations on route to tackle social and economic exclusion together Community partnership Maximising Economic Potential Project (MEP) has made it to the second round of applications for £5.2million of National Lottery funding, and received £50,000 to start tackling social and economic exclusion.

MEP is a partnership of eleven Leicester and Leicestershire community organisations working collaboratively to provide a wide range of employment related services to help individuals who are furthest from the labour market to find and retain work. Partners include charities and community groups specializing in age, disability, homelessness, and cultural support.

This development funding will allow MEP to develop an application for a Building Better Opportunities project. If successful, the bid would bring up to £5.2 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund to Leicester and Leicestershire, to tackle the root causes of poverty, promote social inclusion and drive local jobs and growth.

Priya Thamotheram, Chair of the MEP Project Board said: Highfields Centre and its MEP partners are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this Big Lottery development funding, which will enable us to fully consider and prepare for the major employment related services to be provided in Leicester and Leicestershire.


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Please find below quotes about the MEP Project’s successful Big Lottery award from some local well established community and voluntary organisations.

1. ‘Saffron Resource Centre is delighted to be a part of the Maximising Economic Potential Project (MEP) led by Highfields Centre for these past three years. We look forward to the success of the MEP at this development stage and the millions of pounds of subsequent funding to be brought into Leicester and Leicestershire to support those furthest from the Labour Market.`

Neil Hodgkin, Chief Executive.
Saffron Resource Centre

2. Bangladesh Youth and Cultural Shomiti
‘We are delighted that our MEP bid to the BBO Holistic Social Inclusion programme, led by Highfields Community Association, has advanced to the final stage of the bidding process. The range of delivery partners involved will ensure a strong and effective delivery team that will target local diverse and deprived communities in Leicester and Leicestershire. As an organisation, we have been working collaboratively with Highfields Community Association for nearly three decades and we have regularly networked with other delivery partners in the bid.
We are looking forward to a positive outcome of our application.’

Dr. Shofiqul Islam Chowdhury, Programme Development Manager, Bangladesh
Youth and Cultural Shomiti

3. ‘Shama Women’s Centre is a key delivery partner for the MEP, having more than 31 years experience in empowering 30,000 women, many from deprived backgrounds and in particular from BME communities, helping them overcome cultural, economic and social barriers. Our client centred approach will include tailored into work support, employablity skills training, accredited qualifications , mentoring and language support with volunteering opportunities. Shama will provide a dedicated service to economically inactive women in Leicester and Leicestershire empowering them to achieve educationally, socially and economically as part of the MEP.’

Khudeja Amer-Sharif,
Coordinator. Shama Womens Centre

4. ‘Somali Development Services is involved with MEP because it brings together
organisations from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal and building a collaborative spirit to address challenges and barriers faced by minority groups and people who are economically disadvantaged in our city and county. Additionally, SDS has unique specialty and expertise to contribute in improving the economic and social well-being of our local disadvantaged people.’

Jawaahir Daahir, Founder & Chief Executive Officer

5. E2
‘This is fantastic news for the disadvantaged communities we work with and for people who are socially excluded in Leicester and Leicestershire that are furthest away from the labour markets. If we are successful in gaining this funding, we will be able to help people with complex needs to improve their job search and interview skills as well as identify voluntary opportunities to help increase participant’s confidence and skills’.

Martin Buchanan, Chief Executive, E2 (Cooke E-Learning Foundation)

6. ‘mosaic: shaping disability services are delighted to be working with our partner organisations to develop and deliver the Maximising Economic Potential (MEP) Project. We feel the purpose of MEP matches our mission to deliver services that the disabled want, services that promote inclusion, equality, independence, choice, empowerment, respect and dignity. The aims of the MEP Project is another working example of a mosaic service that promotes and works to the social model of disability. We see MEP as a welcome extension to the work we are currently undertaking on our Jouney2Employment (J2E) Project by working with those most disadvantaged and furthest from employment to move closer to the labour market using methodology that is very much person- centred and flexible in approach.

Rehaan Adam, Team Manager, mosaic: shaping disability services

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.

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Leicester and Leicestershire’s Community Organisations work together to tackle social and economic exclusion

We are pleased to announce and launch a new community led partnership to tackle social exclusion and economic exclusion.

Maximising Economic Potential (MEP) is an amalgamation of Leicester and Leicestershire community organisations  that have a long history of working together through joint projects, referrals and informal working arrangements to provide a wide range of employment related services and help for individuals (and especially, those who are furthest from the labour market) to find and retain work.

Led by Highfields Community Association, members of the MEP partnership include Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland, Saffron Resource Centre, Shama Women’s Centre, Bangladesh Youth & Cultural Shomiti, Pakistan Youth and Community Association, mosaic: shaping disability services, Somali Development Services, The Cooke E-learning Foundation, and The Race Equality Centre. These community organisations have now come together through a formal partnership established in 2014 to improve the lives of people across the City and County who are socially excluded.

Cllr Sue Waddington, forBeaumont Leys Ward and Leicester City Council’s Assistant Mayor with responsibility for Skills and Employment said:

“I welcome the MEP partnership, which represents voluntary and community based organisations serving diverse communities and groups in Leicester and Leicestershire. One of the aims is to help those furthest from the labour market to find and retain employment. This requires a range of interventions and sustained support to enable people in danger of social and economic exclusion to gain the skills and self-confidence needed to seek employment. Such support is best delivered at a local level and organisations like Cooke E learning, which is based in my own ward of Beaumont Leys are in a good position to do this. The MEP will enable expertise from the member organisations to be shared to support vulnerable communities.”

Priya Thamotheram, MEP Project Board Chair said:

“Maximising Economic Potential (MEP) is an exciting and unique partnership that has the potential to make a big impact and make a very positive difference for Leicester and Leicestershire’s disadvantaged and socially and economically excluded communities. With our partners who have considerable and proven track record of successfully delivering on various employment related projects throughout the city and county, we are currently working on proposals to lever in investment to support the delivery of work through MEP.”

For more information about Maximising Economic Potential, please contact

Priya Thamotheram, MEP Project Board Chair, 0116 253 1053 or email