Essex


Project Overview

The Connecting Choices ESF-funded project, starting at the end of 2016, aims to help people who are furthest from the labour market to overcome barriers and move towards or into sustainable volunteering, education, training or employment. 

The project will work with 215 unemployed and economically inactive people aged 19+ who have a history of moving in and out of the labour market, including those in a cycle of seasonal or temporary jobs. This may include individuals with a particular barrier such as health, mental health problems or learning difficulties that impact on their ability to sustain employment; people with housing difficulties; ex-offenders; people from ethnic minority groups.

As a small project we will achieve maximum impact by targeting our delivery to people in areas with high volumes or concentrations of deprivation, benefit claims and/or economic inactivity, as well as isolated rural or coastal communities. We have initially identified the following target areas:

  • Southend-on-Sea: Kursaal, Victoria, Milton
  • Basildon: Vange, St Martins, Lee Chapel North, Fryerns
  • Thurrock: Tilbury Riverside & Thurrock Park, Tilbury St Chads
  • Harlow (targeted ethnic minority project): Little Parndon and Hare Street, Todbrook, Netteswell, Great Parndon, Sumners & Kingsmoor 
  • Jaywick: particularly Golf Green
  • Clacton: particularly Pier, Alton Park, Rush Green, St James, St Marys

Our project aims to:

  • Maximise the take-up and impact of local services 
  • Improve social inclusion
  • Improve skills to enable people to take up employment
  • Increase levels of work experience and volunteering
  • Improve confidence and self-esteem
  • Improve financial capacity and money management skills
  • Improve access to childcare

Our Service winning Proposal

Connecting Choices Personal Coaches will offer an intensive, holistic service to meet individual needs through minimum fortnightly community-based coaching, support and review sessions, local group/project and online activities. 

The following activities will be available based on the individual needs of participants:

  • Coaching: resilience; employability skills; tailored careers guidance to develop realistic job goals; CV creation/tailoring; job-matching; workplace behaviours; employer expectations.
  • Training: access to accredited training to address skills gaps including Basic Skills, ESOL; discretionary budget for certificated training/development activity not available elsewhere to raise aspiration; travel training and accessibility sessions focussing on rural areas and areas with limited public transport options.
  • Financial literacy: money management, debt advice via National Debtline, Money Advice Service and local partners; understanding/accessing credit; Better Off Calculation to ascertain viable hours/earnings and Universal Credit conditionality thresholds
  • Self-employment: IAG via Ixion’s Develop/Grow Your Enterprise programmes.
  • Personal development activities: confidence building, life skills, tailored support e.g. opportunities for ethnic minority groups with ESOL needs to practice language skills through group visits to key employers.
  • Housing: a pilot project to provide accommodation for people with severe housing need with embedded coaching and support.
  • Signposting/advocacy with existing services e.g. health, housing; use of our Childcare Database; making/attending appointments e.g. for substance misuse support, with joint working to boost confidence and engagement with local services 
  • Volunteering and work placements: to build skills including tasters to inform career guidance and supported placements with volunteer mentors.
  • Employer involvement: develop sector routeways with key employers offering progressive routeways tailored for participants, and develop Skills Academies in regional growth sectors including expansion of Ixion’s Logistics Academy (Tilbury Port).
  • Into-work transition: action planning and three months’ practical support to promote sustainability including childcare.