Building Better Opportunities: Getting Cumbria to Work and Covid-19

The BBO GCtW project partnership has continued to deliver during Covid19, ensuring that the health and wellbeing of all participants and staff have been at the forefront of all activities. Following the outbreak of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, all activities involving face to face contact were cancelled and online alternatives provided where possible. Although, this new style, virtual delivery model has posed some challenges  – especially with the project working with participants who may not have access to modern technology plus staff who are not necessarily familiar with new technology – in summary, it has worked extremely well. All partners have continued to maintain contact, deliver support and services to participants – some participants have even benefitted from an online Conflict Management training course, developed and delivered through SkillsShop.

Conflict Management
This session has allowed BBO GCtW participants to continue to learn and develop skills despite the lockdown which not only improves their employability, but also their personal development.

Project Manager Natalia Wealleans-Turner said: “Phil and his team designed the Conflict Management course for us so that participants can log in and work at their own pace which is perfect during this challenging period. Many participants are managing multiple stresses, such as home-schooling children, caring duties and increased levels of anxiety linked to coronavirus and so having the option to complete this at their own pace has been fantastic for them.”

The course has enhanced participants’ communication skills and their ability to problem solve, especially in circumstances they might come across in a workplace environment. Participants attending the course reported a sense of accomplishment and noted improved confidence in dealing with challenging situations.

“The Conflict Management course teaches participants how to become more assertive and empathise with others,” said Mr Phil Newton (Skills Shop).

“The course focuses a lot on understanding people’s beliefs, behaviours and the importance of communication, helping people build relationships quicker. By empathising more with others, people are more likely to remain calm during a discussion and look at things in a balanced manner.”

Project Manager Natalia Wealleans-Turner said:“We work with Skills Shop because they represent value for money, have an excellent understanding of our participants’ needs, the area and the voluntary sector. Phil Newton and his team are trained to identify safeguarding, issues and are experienced at engaging with people who have varying levels of education, health and social need.”

BBO GCtW Let’s Cook and Busy Bees
The project team have continued to develop creative ways to engage and support existing participants and has developed weekly online activity schedule which includes lots of exciting activities to support mental and physical health. CCVS the lead partner team have been working with our existing activity providers to develop activities for the participants including Making a Felt Bumble Bee and a healthy food initiative (Let’s Eat) designed and developed by Cumbria CVS and The Well Communities has proved a great success too:

The Let’s Eat’ project has enabled participants to take part in weekly cookery activities at home during lockdown, empowering them to take control of their health, diet, family meals etc.
As part of this project, participants received a new recipe each week, along with all necessary ingredients and a conversation starter card. They are encouraged to spend time cooking and eating these new and affordable dishes, but also to use the Starter Card to engage in conversations with their families! This project is achieving some amazing successes and will continue for the forseeable future.

For more information about our BBO GCtW project please contact: Lisa Nicholson on M: 07462 055134 or by email on or visit:

Getting Cumbria to Work: Barrow and South Lakeland (GCtW) is a Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project that serves the local authority areas of South Lakeland and Barrow. This programme is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF) who are co-investing in local projects tackling the root causes of worklessness, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth. It is one of three projects in Cumbria being funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the National Lottery Community Fund and is led by Cumbria CVS.

BBO GCtW aims to support and work with individuals who are facing multiple and complex barriers to employment and who are furthest removed from the labour market. It will help them to move towards and into employment by supporting them to play 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.