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What's social inclusion and why you need to know

Voluntary work is considered work experience in guidelines on social inclusion. Skills and confidence building projects are also considered in criteria for the ESIF 2014-20 programme. Find out more here.

Social Inclusion and ESIF

As part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Programme for the 2014-2020 period, at least 20 per cent of the European Social Fund (ESF) will be spent on activities addressing social exclusion and poverty.

Examples of Social Inclusion activities

Activities promoting social inclusion focus on reaching and supporting those with complex and multiple barriers and improving skills. Projects help people acquire qualifications that move them closer to the labour market. Activities might include:

  • supporting people with confidence-building and personal development
  • providing initial help with basic skills
  • providing work experience, including voluntary work.

Some ESF activities will also fund digital inclusion. For example, projects improving digital literacy and competency among the most disadvantaged

Big Lottery Fund and Social Inclusion

In England, the Big Lottery Fund is the main match funder, or opt-in organisation, for projects that address social exclusion and poverty.

Big Lottery is planning to provide match funding worth around £250 million for social inclusion projects through the Building Better Opportunities Programme.

The focus is on improving employability for the most disadvantaged, helping those with multiple and complex needs, and improving financial literacy.

Find out about Building Better Opportunities Programme on Big Lottery website


Our partners One East Midlands and Regional Voices developed a framework that forms the basis of a practical methodology for addressing social inclusion issues in the next ESIF Programme 2014-20.This is designed to guide the voluntary and community sector’s approach to social inclusion in relation to local growth.

Download Embedding Social Inclusion: A framework to support LEP investment strategies for the 2014-2020 EU Structural and Investment Fund programme.

Read the guidance from the European Commission on Thematic Objective 9 Social Inclusion and Poverty