Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire

Project Overview

The Connecting Choices ESF-funded project, starting at the end of 2016, aims to provide holistic support for disadvantaged people who are not in work within Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and Staffordshire Moorlands. It is targeted in areas with high levels of multiple deprivation as well as more rural communities. This includes: 

  • Stoke-on-Trent: Baddeley, Milton & Norton, Bentilee & Ubberley, Etruria & Hanley, Tunstall, Burslem Centralm, Burslem South, Meir North, Blurton West & Newstead, Abbey Hulton & Townsend
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme: Chesterton, Holditch, Keele, Silverdale & Parksite, Cross Heath, Town
  • Staffordshire Moorlands: Biddulph East, Cheadle (rural access issues), Leek North

The project will work with 1,784 unemployed and economically inactive people aged 19+ who are at most risk of social exclusion to help them progress into training, education, volunteering and work. This may include individuals:

  • With health, mental health or learning difficulties;
  • Recovering from substance misuse problems;
  • Who are resident in large social housing schemes;
  • Who are carers;
  • That are NEET (young people not in employment, education or training);
  • With low skills or qualifications;
  • From ethnic minority groups;

The project aims to:

  • Improve social inclusion
  • Improve employability skills to enable people to take up employment
  • Improve the take up of vocational learning including apprenticeships
  • Increase levels of work experience and volunteering
  • Improve confidence and self-esteem
  • Improve levels of digital engagement to access services and employment opportunities
  • 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: problem solving, decision-making, coping strategies and health condition management; resilience; employability skills; careers guidance to develop realistic job goals; CV creation/tailoring; employer expectations.
  • Training: communication, employability skills, workplace behaviours; 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.
  • Digital skills sessions and workshops offered to all participants from hardest-to-help groups including NEETs, 50+, ethnic minority groups. 
  • Jobsearch: skills development 1:1/group workshops including peer supported Work Clubs; proactive job-matching.
  • Personal development: health & wellbeing 1:1/group sessions, including community sports, cycling/walking projects, substance misuse interventions.
  • Financial inclusion workshops and webinars: understanding/accessing credit; Better Off Calculation to ascertain viable hours/earnings and Universal Credit conditionality thresholds; gambling/debt advice; money management; access to support via National Debtline, Money Advice Service and local partners.
  • Self-employment: IAG via Ixion’s Develop/Grow Your Enterprise programmes.
  • 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. 
  • Specialist support: specialist partners provide specialist interventions to breakdown most complex needs
  • Volunteering and work placements: to build skills including tasters to inform career guidance and supported placements with volunteer mentors, tailored to meet participant needs e.g. people with disabilities, ESOL needs, women.
  • 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 Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire. 

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 you feel meet the project criteria that have not been identified above.
  3. Any key activities or services missing from our proposal that would help our target groups.


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