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History – Past and Present

Origins of the Project

Stocksbridge has a tremendous legacy in its local steelworks spanning many decades and the works dominate the valley – but the numbers employed are a fraction of years gone by and the town has of necessity had to look to other means of developing its future.
Such a decline in the steel industry has had a long term effect on the local community and local businesses all of whom benefited from a thriving works, but suffer at times of decline.
This was recognised by a group of concerned local residents who saw those at disadvantage in the community suffering at the lack of local services to help and assist. A Training Needs Analysis – ‘Opportunities for Stocksbridge’ indicated higher levels of unemployment than those officially being reported and a latent demand for additional locally provided education and training provision. It was also recognised that in order to stimulate new business, provision would have to be made for affordable new and local business space and business advice on how to successfully grow small businesses.

Stocksbridge Community Enterprise Centre

This was recognised by a group of concerned local residents who saw those at disadvantage in the community suffering at the lack of local services to help and assist.  A Training Needs Analysis – ‘Opportunities for Strocksbridge’ indicated higher levels of unemployment than those officially being reported and a latent demand for additional locally provided education and training provision. It was also recognised that in order to stimulate new business, provision would have to be made for affordable new and local business space and business advice on how to successfully grow small businesses.
So, Stocksbridge Training & Enterprise Partnership (STEP), was formed in 1997 to address these issues. It was established as a charity and company by limited guarantee and in 1999 established a local base for its activities by securing funding to acquire and refurbish the disused Stocksbridge Miners Welfare Hall on Manchester Road.
From there it provided a pathways approach to improving local work and educational prospects, recognising that moving straight into a job for many disadvantaged individuals may not be possible as they need to build confidence, skills and experience. The key features of its work were;

  • Fitting services around people’s needs and making them accessible, user-friendly and easy to approach. Addressing problems in a supportive positive way
  • Flexible training courses which offer options including basic skill support, soft skills and accredited computer training.
  • Outreach work to contact those most disadvantaged in the community.
  • Work in partnership with other agencies and employers identifying local labour market opportunities, linking people into wider networks.

In order to diversify the local employment base previously reliant on the steel sector STEP secured further funding to acquire a site and build a new STEP Business Centre at Deepcar, offering 12,000 sq ft of Managed workspace, and access to an on site business adviser.

STEP merged with Stocksbridge Futures Partnership (SFP) in October 2008 to form the new STEP Development Trust, with a broader brief to promote the social and economic regeneration of the area and use the full range of its charitable objectives.