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 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: 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.