Building Better Opportunities (BBO Project)



The ‘Build a Bench’ Project’ is part of the Building Better Opportunities project which brings together funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF) to help tackle the poverty and social exclusion faced by the most disadvantaged people in England. Run in conjunction with The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the project aims to provide pre-employment support within Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin for disadvantaged people aged 19 and over who are not in work.

The project will focus on those who are furthest from the labour market, helping them engage in activity to move forwards and into employment. Through a partnership of 21 partners, the project will provide access to a wide and diverse range of volunteering opportunities enabling more disadvantaged people to move into further education or training having acquired basic skills, increased confidence and motivation through personalized support that will equip them with the abilities needed to move toward and into employment. The project will run until 2019.

The Build a Bench project is held at Small Woods Associations headquarters based at the Green Wood Centre.  Participants come one day over 12 weeks. Initially participants learn basic skills including carving a simple spatula and spoon from a piece wood, making a three-legged stool and simple weaving techniques. The group are encouraged to work together and use their new skills to build a community bench which is donated to a local organisation of their choice.

Our project will work with individuals who are ‘economically inactive’ within the Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin area. We are keen to work specifically with people aged 50+ and young careers aged 19+..

‘Economically Inactive’ could include individuals who are :

  • retired, disabled, full time career.
  • receiving Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Incapacity Benefit(IB) or Income Support(IS)
  • receiving Universal Credit and are in work preparation or work focused interview group
  • Not in receipt of benefits
  • Who require additional support to move towards employment.

The project is suitable for all abilities and no previous experience is required. The project aims to provide enrichment, wellbeing and social inclusion with a focus on building confidence, self-esteem, meeting new people and developing new skills.

We will provide training in traditional Green Wood Crafts

The maximum size of the group will be 6 and there will be two groups running, one on a Monday and one on a Wednesday. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the project with you and identify where the project can fit with your service.

Please let us know of any individuals who would like to attend our next taster session which we will run routinely throughout the project period.