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 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. 

Your Views

Ixion are seeking the views of local people, potential project participants and community groups to assess whether our proposal appears to address the needs of project participants are likely to face, whether there are local issues and needs that aren’t met through this proposal, and general views on how you feel we should be delivering this project to make a difference to the lives of people in Essex. 

Things to Consider:

Feel free to make any comments about this brief overview, which we will take into consideration as we develop our final proposal. We have listed some ideas of the type of feedback you may wish to provide below, but all feedback is welcomed.

  1. Whether our geographical coverage identifies the areas of greatest need – if you feel other areas should be added please include statistics or other data to evidence this need.
  2. Whether there are any particular groups of people who have difficulty sustaining employment that we have not identified. 
  3. Any key activities or services missing from our proposal that would help our target groups.
  4. Whether your feel this project is different from existing projects, and if not your suggestions for how we should change it to make it different. 
  5. Steps we should be taking to make sure local people know about the project and feel able to participate.


If you have a view and would like us to take that into consideration, please complete the survey.