Connecting Choices

Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire Moorlands and Newcastle-under-Lyme

Providing support for those furthest from the job market

We support disadvantaged people by opening doors to opportunity and breaking down barriers into training, education, volunteering and work through personalised coaching sessions based on your needs - in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-Under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands areas.


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What does Connecting Choices do?

We will support you if you’re disadvantaged by helping you to break down barriers and providing needs-based support to assist you into training, education, volunteering and work. We provide support in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-Under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands areas. We’ll help you with:
  • Development of employability skills through volunteer placements, interview skills, CV writing, development of digital skills
  • Person-centred support that is needs-based, individual to you where you can relax and be yourself without any judgement
  • Social inclusion through community activities, joining clubs and group activities with other participants who are breaking down barriers, online inclusion through digital skills
  • Developing a positive mindset by helping you overcome feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low-confidence in a no-pressure environment and help you manage your money better
We also provide support with childcare.

Our most recent Case Studies

Hospital with male nurse pushing stretcher bed

Ryan: I feel that the Connecting Choices programme has had a real impact on my life

Ryan is a participant on the Connecting Choices programme who had not been in employment for four years and suffered from low confidence after being made redundant. With the help of the Connecting Choices programme and partner charity 'Achieve Training' Ryan has successfully secured a new career and overcome his barriers of low confidence.

The Connecting Choices Social Hub

Run by our specialist project partners Starfish Services Ltd, our participants have the option to join the Social Hub, which runs activities that will help them break down barriers to communicating and socialising. Currently the hubs are running virtually, but the same support and opportunities are offered to members just in a slightly different way.   Members of the social hubs have all been referred by their personal coaches in partner organisations.  They are all on the Connecting Choices project and have suffered from anxiety, social exclusion, low confidence, panic attacks, poor emotional or mental health – but together, they support and build each other’s confidence and their ability to participate in society in a meaningful way.

Starfish Services logo

Connecting Choices is co-funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund.

How does it work?

Personal coaches meet with you and create a programme based on your individual needs with no deadlines and no pressure.

Activities might include (depending on the area):

Coaching will focus on your needs, and might include: problem solving, decision-making, coping strategies and health condition management; resilience; employability skills; careers guidance to develop realistic job goals; CV creation/tailoring and employer expectations.

How and when to declare your criminal convictions to employers and understanding your rights and legislation (Essex area only)

Offered to all participants to teach you basic computer skills and how to use the internet. (Stoke and surrounding  area only)

  • 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 Debt line, Money Advice Service and local partners.

(Stoke and surrounding area only)

Action planning and one month’s practical support to promote sustainability including childcare.

Skills development threough 1:1 and group workshops; assistance and support with applications and interview preparation.

Health & wellbeing through 1:1 and group sessions, including community sports, cycling/walking projects and substance misuse interventions if relevant.

The opportunity to make your business a reality through Ixion’s Develop your Enterprise programme – we will help to ascertain if your business plan is viable and help you strategise.

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 partners provide specialist interventions to breakdown your most complex needs.

  • 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

To build skills including tasters to inform career guidance and supported placements with volunteer mentors tailored to meet your needs (such as supportive of disability, ESOL or women-only groups). 

Are you a local employer?

Start supporting your community today – as part of our ongoing commitment to our participants, we continue to build up their confidence and support them into training, education, volunteering and work.

Local and National Support

Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages, ranging from identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.

Hestia provides a free-to-download mobile app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know

The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. It can be contacted on 0808 801 0327.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline provides support for women and children experiencing domestic violence and are available 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247

Women’s Aid is a grassroots federation working together to provide life-saving services in England and build a future where domestic abuse is not tolerated.

The Samaritans provide invaluable information which is being regularly updated through this COVID-19 emergency period and can be contacted 24 hours a day on 116 123

Approach Staffordshire Dementia Support (Men in Shed, Day Opportunities, Training) Staffordshire (Various locations) ST1 5HN contact on 01782 262100 or

ME/CFS (mayalgic encephalomeyelitis/Myalgic Encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome) in Moorlands ST13 8SL contacted on 01538 300101 or 


Galop runs a specialist helpline on 0800 999 5428 or email or visit their website:

LGBT+ Foundation

Established in 1975, LGBT Foundation exists to support the needs of the diverse range of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans. We believe in a fair and equal society where all LGBT people can achieve their full potential. #EqualityWins underpins much of what we do and we aim to be; ‘here if you need us.’ We are a nationally significant charity firmly rooted in our local communities of Greater Manchester and provide a wide range of evidence-based and cost effective services.

Stonewall LGBT+ Action Website

‘We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone. We believe we’re stronger united, so we partner with organisations that help us create real change for the better. ‘We have laid deep foundations across Britain – in some of our greatest institutions – so our communities can continue to find ways to flourish, and individuals can reach their full potential. We’re here to support those who can’t yet be themselves. We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone.’

Hub of Hope will provide you with a list of mental health and support networks available in your local area via their App or website

Mind mental health charity and support in Staffordshire contacted on 01782 262100 or


NHS provides advice, tips and tools to help you make the best choices about your health and wellbeing.

Prevention of Youth Suicide provides support for young people thinking about suicide, or for anyone worried about a young person and can be contacted on 0800 068 41 41

Samaritans – support with mental health, advice and support available 24/7 on 116 123 or 

Shaw Trust provides a range of factsheets surrounding different areas of mental health from anxiety to depression and eating disorders

If you’re worried about internet safefy please visit Internet Matters which has some great resources:

Beware of online scams during Covid-19 – find out more:



Mind provides information and advice

The Samaritans provide invaluable information which is being regularly updated through this COVID-19 emergency period and can be contacted 24 hours a day on 116 123

Women’s Aid provide advice for survivors of domestic abuse 

About Connecting Choices

Connecting Choices – The National Lottery Community Fund and ESF-funded project – started at the end of 2016 and 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 Central, 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 2431 unemployed and economically inactive people aged 16+ 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 National Lottery Community Fund is the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to 6 of 8 Section nine: Publicity (v13.0 31 January 2019) communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

To be updated

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

Contact us

Please complete the form below and one of our engagement team will get in touch with you to discuss further.

Alternatively please contact us at or 01245 254 875.

By ticking this box you agree for your information to be stored and for you to be contacted about upcoming opportunities. For full details on how we process your data please read our privacy policy.


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