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.

If you’re an employer looking to support our participants please visit our employer page.

New Year, New You! Join us at our free event to find out how we could support you.

We will be hosting a free to attend event on Friday 21 January 2022 where you will be able to find out how we could support you. You will be able to meet our partners and discover the services they provide within Stoke-on-Trent.

When: Friday 21 January 2022

Time: 10am – 3pm 

Where: Best Western Stoke City Centre Hotel, 66 Trinity Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 5NB

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enrolments to date
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participants moved into education/training
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participants moved from inactive to actively job seeking 
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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

male sat with laptop in library

Jack: “I now have aspirations for the future.”

Jack is a participant on the Connecting Choices programme who moved into the YMCA and wanted to move closer to getting a job in the future. With the help of YMCA North Staffordshire Jack has improved his confidence, learnt new skills, and has now returned to education.
Woman managing finances

Treena: I feel positive about the future

Treena is a participant on the Connecting Choices programme who wanted support with her financial situation. With the help of Ixion Treena now feels in control of her finances and now feels more confident.

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 funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community 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). 

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.

Achieve Training: Focus on tackling worklessness among young people, offering over 1,000 training and employment opportunities every year.

Change Grow Live: A national health and social care charity helping you with challenges including drugs and alcohol, housing, justice, health and wellbeing. 

Stoke-on-Trent City Council: To strengthen the communities that we live in and provide practical help and support to vulnerable and isolated members of our society, without judgement or discrimination.

Genius Within: Help people with neurodiversity (including dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Disorders) to fulfil their potential in employment and their careers.

Groundwork: A federation of charities working locally to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities.

Ixion: Ixion are a Grade 1 Ofsted provider who can help participants with digital and financial skills.

Royal Association for Deaf people: Ensuring deaf people can achieve their aspirations by providing the support they need. 

Starfish: Champion the needs of people suffering from mental illness who are in need of rehabilitation, and assist in their treatment and care by the provision of facilities for work and recreation.

We are with you: Support individuals, families and communities on the road to recovery. WAWY support adults, children, young adults and older people to make positive behavioural changes and improve their lives particularly with substance misuse.

YMCA: Provide young people with an opportunity to develop and realise their potential with their North Staffordshire youth campus being regarded as one of the best YMCA centres in the country.

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 or 07919 004301.

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