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Westminster reception calls for more support for coalfield communities

Peter McNestry, the Chairman of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust

[T]he Coalfields Regeneration Trust will take the opportunity to showcase the ongoing challenges that face former mining towns and villages during a reception in Westminster to be hosted by Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, on Tuesday 27 February.

Addressing the audience of cross-party MPs, the organisation will set a clear case for additional support to address three priorities for action; employment; skills and health within former mining towns and villages.

Conor McGinn MP, Labour Member of Parliament for St Helens North and host of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust Westminster reception, comments: “Former coalfield communities up and down the country like the ones I represent in St Helens have seen chronic underinvestment in employment, skills and health since the closure of the pits.

“Now that economic growth has returned, it is more important than ever to support our coalfield communities so that high skilled and well-paying jobs are available and health and wellbeing are prioritised.

“In St Helens, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has an excellent programme of strategic projects to deliver these aims, supporting St Helens Council and local businesses, and it is vital that Government gets fully behind this important work.”

Building on the pledges that it has already secured from more than 40 MPs2 who have signed a dedicated book, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust will use the reception to set out its ambitious plans to return the communities to the thriving towns and villages they once were.

Andy Lock, Head of Operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust comments: “We know that there are still challenges in the coalfield regions and they lag behind on many of the national indices. However, we know with the right investment a positive difference can be made.”

“As an example, from the State of the Coalfields Report, we can see that 52% of all neighbourhoods in West Cumbria fall into the 30% most deprived in the UK. Moreover, 21% of all working age residents have no formal qualifications, 6% higher than the national average and a challenge that we need to address if things are to change for these communities.”

“This is why we are calling upon the support of MPs, as it is essential we carry on our work together as we tackle the ongoing issues and ensure coalfield communities do not continue to be left behind.”

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust will explain how its Coalfield Investment Fund proposition will work. This follows its launch in autumn 2017 and a meeting to discuss the proposal with Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry.

The funds would be used to develop new industrial space to support SME growth in former mining areas and on completion bring an estimated 1,000 jobs to the coalfields over the next five years.

As a result of these developments, over a 25-year period, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust would produce £50m in sustainable income which will be used to support social impact projects creating a wellbeing value of over £500m in the communities and a lasting legacy for the next generation.

An annual income stream of £2m would be directed into social impact projects in the communities, typically achieving the following outcomes; 400 people will be helped back into work; 800 people supported into volunteering; 5,000 people assisted with developing new skills and 8,000 people taking part in activities that improve health.

Chief Executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Gary Ellis comments: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank every MP across the country who signed our pledge book. It gives us a renewed focus and confidence that we can and will make a lasting and positive contribution to these communities. We cannot achieve this alone and call on support from key stakeholders such as the LEP’s and local authorities to work with us to deliver our aspiration.”

“We see the coalfields as areas of opportunity and by redirecting investment we are confident that we can stimulate new economic growth.”

The organisation will also showcase its key strategic projects, and spotlight its work in St Helens and how a strategic partnership with Company Shop has brought jobs to the area and an opportunity to develop a network of Community Shops in the North West.

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