CEFET has been the European Social Fund (ESF) Technical Assistance organisation for the East Midlands since 1991 – helping Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations to both access funding, and to shape the programme at regional, England and UK level through representation, analysis, policy and strategic planning work.

From 2013, CEFET no longer continues as a formal organisation, but following agreement on principles and priorities the legacy of this important work in ESF is carrying on through One East Midlands. This website charts the history and achievements of CEFET and the region’s third sector in influencing the programme and through that £millions of ESF funding. We trust that this information will help to inspire and strengthen future ESF work to support the most vulnerable.

CEFET’s history and many notable achievements can be divided into 4 Phases:

1991-97         As a regional arm of NCVO assisting access to what was then the England VCS allocation of ESF. In this period CEFET pioneered transparent allocation and assessment systems.

1997-2002     The Regional Heyday: where CEFET built VCS involvement 10 fold, mostly through policy development in Capacity Building, Community Empowerment and Local Social Capital work. These aspects of Social Inclusion work in ESF overtook all other elements together to form 60% of all VCS ESF activity in the region. CEFET, then and still, leads the sector Nationally based on the ideas, policies and tools developed in this period.

2002-08         Rearguard: where CEFET continued to run a Community Empowerment Programme while the introduction of Co-Financing progressively halved VCS involvement and took the Programme away from Community Empowerment. CEFET moved to be a grass roots, Social Inclusion Champion.

2009-12         Conflict: where CEFET led the VCS rejection of the Prime Contracting model that gained strategic control of the England ESF Programme – which was still nominally aimed at Social Inclusion but in practice the dominant approach did none! Collaboration with One East Midlands (East Midlands regional VCS infrastructure organisation) on policy development began and strengthened most noticeably in 2010: The European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, with a joint project culminating in the region’s first Poverty Convention.

See CEFET History for a more detailed History