“The way I have seen my project team proactively spring into action has inspired and encouraged me, and filled me with pride!”

Recognising a team of frontline staff which has demonstrated outstanding commitment in meeting and exceeding the delivery aims of an employment provider. Kindly sponsored by University of Leeds Business School. 


VOLA is a consortium of Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise sector service providers operating in Liverpool. It provides its members with the necessary support to enable them to collaboratively deliver training and employment services, including the Include-IT Mersey programme.

The Include-IT Mersey project is managed by Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) in partnership with VOLA and 14 other not-for-profit providers.


Include-IT Mersey is a digital inclusion project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and ESF. Established in 2017, the project provides digital skills and employment support to digitally excluded, unemployed and economically inactive residents across Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, to help improve their basic ICT and online skills, confidence and access to digital technologies.

The project has supported 1,299 people to date, nearly all with widely acknowledged barriers to learning and work. There is a 48-strong project team, spread across 14 delivery partners, and 37 volunteer digital champions who support the work of the project.

There is a shared sense of ownership and common goal across all project team members to help socially and digitally excluded people to move on in life. A positive working culture also encourages cooperation, new ideas and cross-referral between partners. The team’s consistent good performance has led to the doubling of project funding (to £3.3m) and delivery timescales to Dec 2021.

To date, 563 participants have progressed to work, training or active job search, with 174 currently on programme, already surpassing total project targets.


“Very proactive management team – they are a driving force… we’ve never waited longer than an hour for a response from the team.”

Delivery partner

“Everyone always tells me that we never shout about ourselves enough for the excellent work we do to support the region’s most disadvantaged residents; and we have certainly never applied for an award before! With the challenging circumstances presented by the Coronavirus crisis; the way I have seen my project team proactively spring into action has inspired and encouraged me, and filled me with pride! I have genuinely thought ‘what a team’ and finally decided, after years of procrastination, to shout about us a bit more!”   

Stu McGrory, VOLA Consortium Manager


This wide ranging team’s strength lies in the committed, proactive, and professional people within it. Strong project management, governance and a culture of cooperation are evident between all stakeholders. Through the sharing of knowledge, this network of delivery partners is highly effective; the project’s excellent performance speaks for itself.