Issue 29 - Greater Manchester Housing Providers Tackling Poverty Newsletter Spring 2021

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Welcome to Issue 29 of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers newsletter, shining a light on the work we do to help reduce poverty, and the people and communities we work with.

Our cover image shows young people attending the Trafford Goals education and family mentoring programme run by Irwell Valley Homes and partners, more on page 12. In this issue we are focussing on the work we do on employment and skills and we have contributions from Bolton at Home, ForHousing, Irwell Valley Homes, Jigsaw Homes, Mosscare St Vincent's, One Manchester, Onward Homes, Salix Homes, SixTown Housing, Southway Housing Trust and Stockport Homes. We also have an update from the GMHP Employment and Skills Lead plus contributions from two successful GMHP collaborations - Motiv8 and The Good Food Bag.

As promised in previous newsletters, we're sharing more on some of the collaborative projects that GMHP partners are involved in. We've got our regular feature from Motiv8 which is an Athena led programme. Athena is GMHPs delivery vehicle and several of the GMHP partners are also members of Athena. You can find out more about Athena on their website or follow them on Twitter @AthenaMcr. We've also got a contribution from Sandra Coleing who Chairs the GMHP Employment and Skills Group to give you an update on the future direction of this theme, more on page 3. The second of our collaborative projects to be featured is linked to the food theme and that's The Good Food Bag, This project is brought to us through a partnership of Irwell Valley Homes and One Manchester. You can read more on that on page 6 and find out how Jigsaw Homes are now using the Good Food bag to support their work with Children's Centres on page 14. Thank you to our contributors for sharing your stories. As usual you are very welcome to send your feedback or suggestions for the next issue to

GMHP UPDATE EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLS THEME The GMHP Employment and Skills Theme has been a long-standing group within the Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) partnership. There is an active membership that meets regularly to discuss best practice, performance, new initiatives, opportunities, and Athena. Athena is the delivery arm of GMHP and whose main contract Motiv8 is featured in this newsletter and achieves some amazing results. In the last 12 months the group has focused on our response to the pandemic, learning from each other and supporting our residents into employment, especially those who lost their jobs as a direct result. We reviewed our performance and in the first 6 months of the year some of the notable highlevel outcomes were that we supported 1800 residents towards work. 322 residents into a job; and 3148 residents to engage in online training

Considering this was when the jobs market was at a standstill, it’s an impressive result and the GM Housing Providers continue to build on new ways of supporting residents, when opportunities for face-to-face contact is limited. Going forward, the Employment & Skills Group has many ambitions. It will continue to focus on its core employment support but will also work collaboratively on three key industries. Digital and IT Zero Carbon Construction

Digital and Zero Carbon are areas of huge potential and new jobs are being created, with a shortfall of qualified people to take up those positions. Supporting our residents, who may not have had a traditional educational path but have an aptitude or passion for either industry, is a priority for the group. It’s about finding accessible pathways and by working together to deliver those pathways. With construction, this is more about supporting residents into our core business. Every housing provider within the partnership will have either inhouse construction teams or work closely with contractors and suppliers. The goal is to support underrepresented groups into our construction vacancies and supply chains, most notably women and ethnic minorities. There is real potential to improve the diversity within our organisations and support residents into a rewarding career that they may not have thought possible. So we have some really ambitions plans for the future and have some innovative and successful programmes currently underway. I hope this newsletter gives a good flavour of the breadth and scale of our work and if you want to find out more about our group, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sandra Coleing Chair of the GMHP Employment and Skills Group Assistant Chief Executive, Stockport Homes Group Twitter @SandraColeing21


GET BACK ON TRACK WITH MOTIV8 Motiv8 is a Greater Manchester programme to help unemployed people aged 25 and over. It supports some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in society to overcome a wide variety of complex issues and barriers to improve their lives and help move them closer to work. It is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund and is a voluntary programme. Participation can help to improve people’s health and wellbeing, selfconfidence, self-esteem, and other crucial employability skills to improve their chances of accessing training or finding a job.

DIGITAL HELP FOR MOTIV8 PARTICIPANTS Motiv8 recently received a £30k donation to help participants overcome digital barriers to engagement with the programme. As a result they have been able to provide a range of ICT equipment such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets to help eligible participants to move forward with their lives. Hazel Clarke, Head of Jigsaw Support, who are the lead housing provider for Motiv8, said: "This donation has made a huge difference to some of our clients, who are often digitally excluded in a world that is increasingly online. It means that they can access services, organisations and agencies that until now have been unavailable to them.”

MOTIV8 SUMMARY Motiv8 has supported 4,280 people since its launch in January 2017 (as of end of March 2021), working with people who are furthest away from employment and who: Are aged 25 or over Live in Greater Manchester Are not in education, training, or employment Have the right to live and work in the UK Have multiple support needs Through a personalised action plan they support their clients to improve their health and well-being, self-confidence and esteem, finances, and employability skills.

MOTIV8 EVALUATION Recent evaluation of the programme from Wavehill found that: Motiv8 works with those furthest from the labour market. On average Motiv8 participants have been unemployed for over 6 years at the point of entry to the programme. Motiv8 participants are most focussed on receiving support for barriers they are facing in day-to-day life such as housing or mental health needs and with confidence and motivation. This helps them to 'move on'. Without this, opportunities around education, training or employment can seem unattainable, or unreachable. Over 90% of participants found Motiv8's support helpful as it enhances key pre-employment characteristics, selfefficacy including confidence improvement, addressing health, social and wellbeing barriers to employment. Consequently, it improves preparedness for re-entry into employment most strongly given the distance from the labour market that most participants find themselves on joining the programme. The programme has attained a cost benefit ratio of £3.15 wellbeing valuation improvement for every £1 invested. Kerrie Pryde, Operational Director, Jigsaw Support said: “Through strong partnership working, Motiv8 provides a unique range of support for the most vulnerable residents of the GMCA area. We are really proud of the work the work the programme is doing to move people forward with their lives, as verified in the findings in the programme evaluation.”

WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MOTIV8? Further information about Motiv8 can be found at or call 0161 331 2048 or email You can view also view some case studies and success stories at Jigsaw Support, part of Jigsaw Group, is leading the Motiv8 programme in partnership with other Manchester Athena housing providers - Bolton at Home (through Starts With You), ForHousing, Stockport Homes Group (through Foundations Stockport) and Wythenshawe Community Housing Group.

THE GOOD FOOD BAG THE GOOD FOOD BAG WHERE ARE WE NOW? Jenny Pocsai, Operations Manager for the project, is keen to tell us all about how she's trying to grow this great project. Irwell Valley Homes and One Manchester have invested in The Good Food Bag, which is providing low cost, healthy meal kits to organisations, as well as selling directly to customers in areas of food insecurity.Since starting in October 2020, The Good Food Bag is going from strength to strength. The idea is simple, we provide meal kits for all kinds of people! Each kit has all you need to make a delicious meal for a family of four. Not a family of four? No problem – the meals are just as tasty the next day, so enjoying a left-over lunch, or super speedy supper another day in the week takes care of any leftovers! Our recipes vary from Chicken Satay Stir Fry to Cowboy Pie to Spaghetti Bolognese – and lots in between. All this in the bag for only £7 or £1.75 per person! We think it is an easy choice for people wanting to stretch their budget and enjoy delicious food. We have been running a Pay It Forward scheme in Sale West and Salford which sees customers donate meal kits to those families who could do with some support. Our other projects include partnering with NHS Mental Health Trusts, Jigsaw Homes, Our Sale West Lottery Fund, Emmaus Salford, and others to supply meal kits all over the M60. 2021 finds us looking at ways to partner to provide support to Care Leavers, older people and reach even more families! Sasha Deepwell, Chief Exec of Irwell Valley explains ‘’It’s more than just providing a food parcel, it’s offering choice, it’s developing skills and inspiring confidence, it’s affordable and it’s feeding families right now. We have a few budget friendly food offerings in Manchester, but none are like The Good Food Bag. It’s part of a new trend towards purchased food, planning ahead for if surpluses run out, and providing a more sustainable solution to help people out of food insecurity. '’ Jigsaw Homes liked the idea so much they funded 30 families a week to receive The Good Food Bag over the summer holidays. Neighbourhood Engagement Officer, Jamie Bell, said “Jigsaw Homes have been working with The Good Food Bag Project and Gorton & Clayton Children’s Centres, providing local families with nutritious food over the summer holidays. This has been a challenging time for many families, we wanted to promote healthy eating and learning new skills in the community over summer.” Nicole Kershaw, Chief Exec at One Manchester said, ‘’The Good Food Bag is a great way to help those families hardest hit by the pandemic. It’s not a handout, it’s a helping hand when people need it most. With The Good Food Bag, I know we can make a difference to people’s lives.’’ In a time where making a difference counts more than ever, find out how you can get involved here –


EMPLOYMENT AND ENTERPRISE SERVICE There probably isn’t a report in circulation that doesn’t tell you how a business or organisation has pivoted or moved online during the pandemic. At Bolton at Home, we’re no different. Within weeks of closing our doors, we took our existing social media pages and started to fully utilise them. In addition, our UCAN staff have been creating and utilising their own personal pages under our brand, so that our customers know that it really is us behind the keyboards! Our former placeholder accounts soon became pages where information was shared, problems were resolved, and community connections were built. Our online presence even spread to Instagram (ideal for our younger customers - who stats show have been the demographic hardest hit by unemployment during the pandemic) and YouTube (perfect for those customers who aren’t present on social media for any reason). We also created a brand new Facebook page to start showcasing job vacancies, advertising voluntary opportunities, and promoting training courses that would help any and all of our customers who were actively looking for employment and craving some kind of routine. The page is called Bolton at Work, and we post up to ten vacancies/opportunities each and every day, whilst taking great care in responding to any post engagements and direct messaging. The page currently has approximately 1250 followers and is going from strength to strength in terms of the opportunities it’s giving to our customers. It’s also a fantastic place to share the pages and projects of all our other Employment and Enterprise services here at Bolton at Home. With the pandemic throwing up many challenges in our ability to run our Career and Life Coaching service, the BAH team adapted our offering to best support the needs of our customers at a time when mental health took over from employment as the community’s bigger priority.

BOLTON AT HOME CAREER AND LIFE COACHING SERVICE Our Career and Life Coaching service works with customers who have a problem beyond the ‘pop in for a quick solution’ issues that our UCAN centres would have previously dealt with. This can be absolutely anything - from access/ entitlement to benefits, coping with disability, being left or perhaps even abused by a partner… the list is endless for who we will support. Under its initial guise as Barrier Busting, our offering has evolved over several years to be so much more than the CV writing service it once was! As time has gone on, we’ve identified the needs of the community, and we’ve adapted to the complex individual and cultural issues within it. Glynis, one of a team of people who delivers the service believed that much more in the way of individualised intervention and counselling was needed to support our customers, and so she has been supported to complete her training as a Psychotherapist. The mental health support and counselling now on offer means we can help so many different people and puts us in a strong position to effectively refer and signpost our customers to the most appropriate support should they need it. The public view of a Housing Provider is that they focus purely on their customers in terms of their housing needs, but at Bolton at Home, we have a reputation for looking at the bigger picture in terms of how we can best support our people. And, as we don’t have targets, we can focus on exactly what our customers need from us. In the last 5 years these are the numbers of customers we have supported:

More details of our Employment and Skills programme are in our recently published Impact Report which can be found here.


SKILLS SUPPORT PROGRAMME For the last 4 years, the Employment and Enterprise Team has been making more things possible for more people. The Skills Support Programme helps people get back into work. This has included a broad range of activities, from CV and cover letter writing to regulated qualifications and confidence and motivation support. We completely individualise the support we provide and work with the person to identify where they are now, where they want to be and then together plan how to get there. During the last 4 years, we have supported 237 people, 52 of which have achieved a regulated qualification and 64 have moved into employment. We have also provided 156 work experience placements to help people bridge a gap on their CV, learn new skills or improve an existing skill set. At the start of 2021 we moulded the delivery of this programme to fit with the new Government initiative, Kickstart. We wanted to help people take advantage of this great opportunity so tailored our service to help people apply for Kickstart vacancies, including our own. Since March 2021 we have helped 4 into Kickstart Placements and currently employ 24 Kickstarters. Recently, and in response to how Covid has changed the landscape of apprenticeships and employment opportunities, our main focus has been to support young people aged 15 – 24. In the past 12 months we have supported two people into work via the Kickstart Scheme, 6 into apprenticeships and 8 onto full time college courses. Mr R attended our Alternative Provision and then came onto our employment programme in April 2020, just as he was coming to the end of his final school year. Along with our employability activities, we helped Mr R apply for an apprenticeship. After finding out he had been successful Mr R said “I would have been a stereotypical school drop out without coming to ForHousing, my parents are buzzing and I’m so excited to start my apprenticeship”


Another element of the Employment and Enterprise Team is the ‘Do Your Own Thing’ programme which is designed to help people make more of what they love doing by turning their ideas into income. It also offers an alternative employment opportunity to those for whom traditional 9-5 jobs aren’t ideal. A tenant, Ms C, was running a business making and selling handmade dog beds, which she’d set up with support from ForHousing’s Do Your Own Thing. She had been doing well until, like many other businesses, sales declined due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ms C realised she needed to diversify if she was going to keep her business afloat. After seeing news coverage about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) she looked into ways these could be manufactured and discovered that face masks were something she could produce. She applied to the Do You Own Thing programme with ForHousing for some additional funding. She used the money to buy material for making the masks, and to enable her to give away the first batch to care assistants and front-line workers. “I saw the opportunity to transfer my skills and materials to make face masks. This has benefitted not only my business, but also people in the local community who are now able to purchase PPE so they can carry on working. Some of the care workers at one of ForHousing’s extra care schemes have been using the masks, which is great to hear.” Eric McBean, Enterprise Manager at ForHousing, said: “It was great to be able to support Ms C with this change in direction for her business. We helped her with some initial market testing and research, and now her business is thriving. It’s so important for us to support local enterprise through Do Your Own Thing. Financial stability is a big part of wellbeing, and that’s what this programme aims to provide.” Do Your Own Thing helps people to fuel their potential, explore possibilities and develop ideas before taking steps into self-employment. Since 2014, the programme has helped 453 people, with 186 of them going on to start their own enterprise. To find out more about ForHousing Employment and Enterprise support, visit


HELPING PEOPLE REACH THEIR POTENTIAL The last twelve months have been a difficult time for anyone looking for employment or out of work. With the furlough scheme extended, unemployment set to rise and inequalities in the labour market widening, Irwell Valley Homes has created a new employment and training offer to support those affected. The offer supports people to access employment, training, work placements and volunteering plus coaching, mentoring and personal development to help people reach their potential. The association has taken a holistic approach to maximise their impact by making the most of the opportunities and funding available, working with partners and their supply chain and providing financial support from the Irwell Valley Foundation. Richard is one of Irwell Valley Homes’ tenants who has benefited from this. With a grant from the Irwell Valley Foundation, he was able to complete an NVQ level 2 in Excavator Plant Ops Course. With the qualification under his belt, Richard was then supported by the association’s procurement partner, to obtain a CSCS card which enabled him to gain work experience on construction sites. Richard is now employed and doing an apprenticeship with Irwell Valley Homes’ construction partner Seddon, working on the association’s multi-million-pound regeneration programme on the Sale West estate where he is a resident. Since the start of the pandemic Irwell Valley Homes has invested around £100,000 from the Irwell Valley Foundation to support people to live well and reach their potential. This has attracted over £364,000 of match funding to maximise the impact for the people and communities it supports.


FIRM FOUNDATIONS FOR THE FUTURE A great example of this collaborative approach is Trafford Goals a new education and family mentoring programme that has been funded by Irwell Valley Homes in partnership with Trafford Council, Our Sale West, and Your Housing Group. Local charity, Foundation 92 are leading the programme which is being delivered by a collective of third sector organisations including Sale Sharks Community Trust, Altrincham FC, In The Community, Communities United and The Hideaway Partington. Trafford Goals provides sports leadership and accredited learning programmes, a skills programme for 16 to 24-year-olds who are not in employment education or training, youth activities and specialist family lifestyle programmes. In addition to the young people and families who are being supported by the programme, Foundation92 has recruited 10 full-time assistant sports coaches through the Kickstart programme to support Trafford Goals, offering young people a promising career path. The number of people who are not in employment, education or training in Salford are among the highest in all the Greater Manchester boroughs and the pandemic has made it even more difficult for young people to secure work, but thanks to initiatives such as this, the partners are working to support young people to gain experience and qualifications and build themselves a brighter future. Tom Hutton, Head of Foundation 92, said: “Through collaboration with local housing associations and partners, members of the Trafford community have the opportunity to take part in a range of inclusive, progressive and life-changing programmes that will improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing, plus offer sustainable employment opportunities.” Maria Garnett, Community Investment Manager from Irwell Valley Homes said: “We know that by working together we can maximise our impact. As housing providers, we all want the best for our residents so we are delighted to be working together to meet the needs of local people and help local communities thrive.” Last year the partnership supported 1550 families to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. Helped 16 young people with additional needs or special educational needs to access skill training and achieve their potential. Supported young people to gain 25 nationally recognised qualifications and provided free sports provision for 465 people.


JIGSAW HOMES EMPLOYMENT TEAM Jigsaw Homes have continued to offer support to residents through our Jigsaw Homes Employment Team (JET). Despite the challenges of the lockdowns the team have continued to find inventive ways in which to reach and engage residents in assisting their search for work. JET currently runs a weekly Virtual Work club ‘Plus,’ which involves working with customers online. These sessions include CV skills, Interview techniques, Job application and Confidence building workshops and one to one sessions. Our business start-up programme has been running for over 4 years and recently we have developed and delivered two training courses with eight budding entrepreneurs taking up the bespoke support, using the Zoom platform. This has resulted in 6 individuals securing £500 Jigsaw Homes grant funding to help them on their way. Our online training offer continues to be very popular during the pandemic with 55 residents enrolled on our accredited Food Safety Level 2 course alongside 23 completing a First Aid Skills for parents and carers course since January. Many of the people signing up to Food Safety have enhanced their CV and are currently job seeking while others have said they volunteer at food banks and other essential community services helping vulnerable families and young children. Parents and carers have found the knowledge gained on the first aid skills course really useful as people were home schooling and spending longer periods of time with young children and babies. A total of 31 women took part in our sewing and Employment course and soon will be coming on the Business start-up training. As we own and manage homes in the Midlands, we ran a CV workshop for Gedling Borough Council’s Employment Week in February. This featured this short CV skills video we put together with our COMMS Department. We believe we are the only housing provider with our own Employment & Skills (JET) Facebook page and we have the means to tailor any training package to the individual either internally or by sourcing an external resource. For more information please contact:


PANTRY OPENING Supported by Smallshaw Hurst Children’s Community, Ashton United in the Community and St John’s The Evangelist Church, the new Smallshaw Hurst Pantry Store opened to the community at the Pavilion, Cedar Park, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancs in April. The pantry has been set up to meet the needs of those families who need some extra help in buying their groceries. The Pantry store will stock a wide range of products included chilled and frozen food but exactly what is on offer may vary from week to week. This is a members only store, for those who live in the area of Hurst, Hurst Cross and Smallshaw registering is free, for those outside this area the joining fee is £5. Members will only need to pay a small fee of £3 each time they shop with us and in return can expect a basket of food products to the value of at least £12. For further information and to see the full list of Terms and Conditions, please contact Andy Finnigan on 07523 919185 or email

THE GOOD FOOD BAG Jigsaw Homes have worked in partnership with The Good Food Bag and Children’s Centres at Clayton and Gorton in order to address children and families in poverty who are struggling in the current climate to provide a healthy balanced diet. The diets of young children are important, not only to provide the energy and nutrients they need to grow and be healthy, but to set up healthy eating habits that can track into later life. We chose The Good Food Bag because they are inspirational, adaptable, and reliable. It is not just a food parcel but an affordable, low-cost healthy meal kit complete with easy-to-follow recipes including choices to suit different dietary needs. To date Jigsaw have funded over 300 Good Food Bags and continue to support local families and increase the numbers over the coming year.


Operations Manager, Jenni Pocsai from The Good Food Bag said “We have been working with Jigsaw Homes for almost a year now supporting families and we are so happy to be a part of their efforts to be there for those who could do with a helping hand. “ Working in partnership in this way also provides opportunities to upskill parents and young people and further access for parents to attend Jigsaws free accredited training in both Food and Nutrition and Food Hygiene optimising opportunities into employment.

A HELPING HAND WITH GOING BACK TO SCHOOL Jigsaw Homes Neighbourhood Engagement team and activity co-ordinators from our temporary housing schemes team have organised home schooling packs to be put together for families within the schemes. 68 of these packs, which included notebooks, activity books and stationery were delivered and really appreciated by the families. This helped allow the children to be prepared for home schooling, giving them the tools needed to ensure they can do their work. We understand that home schooling can be challenging however for most of the children in the schemes it can also be difficult to find the funds to buy the essentials needed.

HEALTHY SOUP PROJECT The Neighbourhood Engagement team at Jigsaw Homes partnered with Buzz Manchester from Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall area on how to make healthy soup using fresh ingredients. The soup ingredient’s along with soup recipes, which were designed by residents from North Manchester area, were given to 15 Jigsaw tenants that lived in Crumpsall, Cheetham Hill and Newton Heath area. The healthy recipes were given to families and older people to follow with all the ingredients this was designed to improve on families mental wellbeing and also to show them how to make healthy food choices at low cost. We had some great feedback on the project from residents.


MSV VOLUNTEER PROGRAMME Through our MSV volunteering scheme we have offered additional counselling services in Stockport. This service has helped over 20 tenants gain confidence and improve wellbeing through an unprecedented difficult 12 months. We worked closely with our volunteer counsellor to ensure she could access additional training and ongoing support to ensure the further needs of our tenants were met, increasing her own skills, and offering new and innovative methods of counselling including eco-therapy where nature helps to heal from the inside/out. After gaining the essential work experience required, our volunteer counsellor is now moving into full time employment using the work experience and training gained at MSV.

FOUNDATION 92 The partnership between MSV and Foundation 92 for this project commenced in October 2020, offering free community sports sessions to the people of Westhoughton. Sports sessions were to take place every Tuesday and Thursday for age groups 7 to 11 and 12- to 16-year-olds. As government restrictions dictated that the core youth and education offer had to be temporally paused, Foundation 92 deployed its education and youth work team into the heart of MSV communities in order to support those most vulnerable, through the delivery of doorstep advice, guidance and support services as well as providing essential food packs to those most vulnerable. In November 2020, a total of 80 essential packs were passed to MSV Customers, with a total of 60 support hours received.


In December 2020 a family support and activity service was formed with families receiving weekly activity packs, which had a link to a new private family exercise Facebook page created to support families. A community befriending service, supporting our customers who were most isolated, providing them with doorstep guidance and support, the chance to have an informal chat and most of all that human contact. The redesign of the service provided during lockdown has been described as a lifeline. With the support of Mosscare St Vincent’s and other Partners Foundation 92 has been able to design, develop and launch several flagship programmes. A sample of the type of opportunities they have been able to offer the whole community throughout 2020.

FREE COMMUNITY YOUTH WORK AND YOUTH SOCIAL ACTION PROGRAMME This is a community focused free to access youth work programme which supports young people aged 7 to 11 and 12 to 16 to both identify and remove vulnerabilities faced within their lives, which may lead to inequality and disadvantage developing in communities. Examples of provision within youth work includes Youth Social Action Provision Enterprise and Employability Programme Accredited Training Programme Behaviour Change and Leadership Programme Health Improvement Programme Feedback received from MSV Customers; It was a lovely surprise and lovely lads who are proud to making a difference to many families in times like now. One friendly face and a meal is precious and really makes a difference for many in our area. Fantastic ------ So good to receive and much appreciated ------ Really friendly and generous ------ Such amazing guys going round providing food parcels in Westhoughton today, really proud of you guys at Foundation 92.


WORK WEAR INITIATIVE IS BOOSTING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES IN MANCHESTER Working Wardrobe provides high quality clothing and training for unemployed men to give them the confidence to succeed at interviews. Through conversations with our employment support centres, we learnt that a major barrier to employment is lack of suitable clothing. Candidates are referred to the project through organisations such as job centres, work programmes, and ex-military support services. They receive a personalised styling session with a working wardrobe stylist and are then provided with a complete outfit and personal hygiene pack if needed. After the styling session, each candidate receives a one-to-one interview preparation and coaching session with a qualified Employment Support Advisor. Following further research and feedback from residents, we identified a gap concerning work wear for manual occupations. Some of the candidates found it difficult to afford the basic equipment they needed so we looked for ways we could help remove that barrier. Through a social value fund provided by One Manchester’s materials supply chain partner, Travis Perkins Managed Services, and other contractors we have been able to build up a stock of work wear including items such as safety boots and tradesman trousers, to enable candidates to start work. To date four people have gone into work equipped with PPE provided by this service.

ONWARD HOMES WORK & SKILLS PROJECT IN HATTERSLEY Onward Homes and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (TMBC) have been working on a partnership project to help residents in the Hattersley area get into work and training. The partnership project involves providing a Work and Skills Coordinator for the Hattersley area to create a bespoke package of support for the residents in the area. This includes twice weekly job clubs with access to IT equipment and resources for finding work, one-to-one appointments for individual employability and personal development support, facilitation and access to accredited and non-accredited courses and provision to help with the transition from benefit dependency to paid work. Since the project was launched in 2017, we have supported over 100 people into work, provided 160 people with access to volunteering and work experience opportunities, and have facilitated accredited and non-accredited training for over 300 local people. When the pandemic hit, the Work and Skills Project switched to an online service, tailored to meet the individual needs of those who require support. This involved using digital methods to support residents and advertise opportunities. Despite national restrictions, the Work and Skills Project has engaged with 240 people, progressing 14 individuals into employment and 73 through training in the last 15 months. However, the pandemic highlighted the limited proficiency that some community members have in accessing digital content, so we signposted residents to useful resources to increase their skills set. Onward has also been addressing the imbalance some residents have felt through lack of access to digital technology by commissioning local organisations to provide refurbished technology for residents who want to access training during the lockdown period. An example of someone we have helped increase his digital skills and gain employment as a result is John. John initially attended the Work and Skills Project before the lockdown restrictions in March 2020. He had limited IT skills and felt uncomfortable using a PC. Over time, he gained confidence and would often stay after hours, so that we could continue to develop his IT skills. Our Work and Skills Coordinator, Matthew, designed a process map for him so that he could access his email and his Universal Credit account. This also helped John when applying for jobs online. After a few months, John’s digital skills improved, and he could go through the basic steps to fulfil his obligations to look for work. However, he did not have a computer at home, and as a result, John did a lot of his digital related activities on his smart phone. Matthew explained the functions on John’s phone and created a process map for that too, as well as his tablet. As a result, John secured employment through his online job searching.


YOUNG PEOPLE HIT BY PANDEMIC GET KICKSTART TO A NEW CAREER A trio of young people affected by the downturn in the Covid-19-ravaged job market have been given a kickstart to get their careers back on track. Izzy McGarry, Alexie Dean and Codie Ellis, all from Salford, have joined housing association Salix Homes as part of the Government-funded Kickstart Scheme. Like thousands of young people across the country, they have all felt the impact of the pandemic, both personally and professionally. Izzy, 21, is Salix Homes’ new learning and development assistant, but had been working in the hospitality sector prior to the pandemic – an industry devastated by the lockdown restrictions. She said: “The pandemic has given me a lot of time to help me reflect on what I want to do. Working in pubs was great for a couple of years, but I couldn’t see myself progressing in that industry, which is why I wanted to join the Kickstart programme and try a new sector.” Codie, 20, had started a dental nursing apprenticeship which was cancelled amid the pandemic. She’s now joined Salix Homes as an assistant in its People Services Team, which deals with HR matters. She said: “After my apprenticeship was cancelled, I worked in residential homes, which I did find very rewarding, but trying to find jobs at the moment is really difficult and it knocks your confidence a little bit.” Alexie, 24, is the new project assistant at Salix Homes and had been unemployed for six months prior to joining the Kickstart Scheme. He said: “I’ve definitely felt isolated over the last year. It’s like you’re missing out on a bit of your life and there’s things you should be doing, but you’re not. The learning side of the Kickstart programme is most important for me – I want to better myself and help my future.”

SALIX HOMES FOUNDATION 92 KICKS OFF RECRUITMENT DRIVE IN SALFORD IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HOUSING PROVIDERS Sporting charity Foundation 92 has teamed up with Salford housing providers to help recruit its newest cohort of sports coaches. Foundation 92 has been working with landlords across Salford to deliver youth engagement and outreach programmes, including the delivery of food parcels and essential items to people struggling throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the charity, which was founded by the Class of ‘92, is recruiting up to 10 full-time positions as assistant sports coaches to support their health, wellbeing and sporting activities and offer young people the opportunity of a promising career path. Tom Hutton, Head of Foundation 92, said: “Foundation 92 aims to support disadvantaged communities through sport and we’ve already been working in partnership with registered social landlords in Salford to run various initiatives to benefit people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so we’re very proud to now be able to offer sustainable employment opportunities for 10 young people. “We’re committed to empowering Salford residents to achieve their potential, and through the provision of full-time, meaningful and sustained employment, our new recruits will benefit from bespoke mentoring and personal development to enable them to thrive.” Foundation 92 is working alongside Salix Homes, Clarion Housing Group, Irwell Valley Homes, MSV Housing, Onward Homes and Guinness Partnership who will be promoting the job opportunities throughout their neighbourhoods. The jobs are part of the Kickstart programme, which is targeted at 16–24-year-olds in receipt of Universal Credit. The role involves supporting Foundation 92’s wider youth work which includes sports activities and targeted health improvement programmes for people experiencing marginalisation in society. Salix Homes, which owns 8,000 homes in Salford, is one of the housing providers that’s been working closely with Foundation 92 during the pandemic. Jackie Crook, skills and work manager at Salix Homes, said: “As local housing providers, we’re all delighted to be working in partnership with Foundation 92 to support people in our communities and provide opportunities to transform lives, and these new jobs created will help open up sustainable career opportunities to young people living in our neighbourhoods. “The NEET (not in employment, education or training) figures in Salford are among the highest in all the Greater Manchester boroughs and the Covid-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult for young people to secure work, but thanks to initiatives such as this, we’re working to support young people to get their lives back on track, gain some experience and qualifications and build themselves a bright future.” Foundation 92 was founded by the Class of ‘92 in 2018 to enable them to give back to communities and causes close to their heart using the power of sport, particularly football. It is also the chosen charity of Salford City Football Club.


SIX TOWN HOUSING’S EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM GETS A ‘KICK-START’ AS LOCKDOWN STARTS TO LIFT. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Six Town Housing’s Steps to Success programme is back up and running, providing great opportunities for Bury’s social housing tenants and their families. After people have struggled mentally and financially as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Steps to Success aims to give tenants to confidence they need to achieve their full potential. As a free service for their tenants, Steps to Success provides personalised support to individuals who want to address any barriers that may be preventing this or impacting upon their quality of life. They have a number of useful courses planned over the coming year including an introduction to mindfulness and wellbeing, digital skills for beginners and food safety. Their website also includes listings of local vacancies, apprenticeships, placements, and other opportunities. Six Town Housing are working in partnership with Clarion, One Manchester and the Department Of Work and Pensions to create paid work placement opportunities as part of the government funded Kickstart scheme which provides on the job experience, internal and external training, employability support and mentoring for 16- to 24-year-olds in receipt of Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. The trainee positions they have include two Customer Support Assistants, two Community Support Workers, a Data Quality Assistant and a Waste and Recycling Assistant. Naomi Exton, Steps to Success Advisor, said, “I am very excited about the Kick Start Scheme which Steps to Success is a part of. Giving young adults the opportunity of valuable paid work experience in such uncertain times is a great opportunity for our tenants and I’m grateful I can help them.” This month, Six Town Housing welcomed 5 new trainee staff members as part of the Kickstart Scheme.


ON LINE EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT One of the most notable changes with regard to Lockdown has been the move to doing things on line including events and courses. From March 2020 we ran several virtual job fairs and Employment Coordinators Fiona Froude and Iain McGowan ran another successful virtual Careers Fair in April this year in partnership with Great Places. Presentations were delivered by a range of providers including Manchester College, National Careers Service, We Are Digital, South Manchester Credit Union, Manchester Adult Education Service and Working Wardrobe. Skills sessions included CV writing, online interviews, and self-employment guidance. We received very positive feedback from participants who found the event extremely useful. Iain McGowan recently started at Southway as the new full time Employment Support Officer. He will be working with tenants on a 1-2-1 basis and supporting them to overcome employment barriers. He can also help with developing CVs, preparing for interviews, and conducting job searches. The Time is Now, an online course developed to help people plan career goals and improve selfconfidence, also continues to run successfully. The programme runs for 5 weeks via Zoom, with attendees enjoying informal sessions, supported by industry experts. The group finishes by participants forming individual action plans and attending a ‘next steps’ session where external partners share some of their services and resources. Its free to attend and groups are kept small to allow sessions to be more personal and interactive. During lockdown most local community centres have been closed making it difficult to continue with face-to-face job clubs and most have offered advice by phone or online. As our Westcroft Centre has been open, mainly functioning as a food hub, the spare office space has been available for employment support with Leslie Bell, who normally runs the job club, seeing clients face to face by appointment. A limited number of clients can also arrange to use the laptops for job searches and applications, typing up CVs and accessing their UC journal.


ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE CREDIT - PROMOTING SOUTH MANCHESTER CREDIT UNION We are now celebrating 7 years of our Southway Solutions loan scheme which was set up in partnership with South Manchester Credit Union to help tenants access affordable credit easily without resorting to Pay Day and other high interest lenders. To mark the success of the scheme we decided to give a prize to the 1000th borrower which was to have their loan and interest paid off. The winner, who had just celebrated the birth of a new baby daughter, was delighted with his prize and joined us at the credit union offices for a celebration lunch. This was his 3rd loan and said he particularly loved the easy application process. He is now a committed credit union supporter and has become a regular saver. He is pictured above collecting his prize from Southway’s Financial Inclusion Adviser Elaine Wilkinson Interest from the loan scheme goes into a development fund to help promote the credit union and for the last 2 years it has paid for a post graduate media student Ryan Cusack who has done wonders to improve their publicity and social media presence. He has also created a series of blogs dealing with money saving ideas including advice on buying a car which will be featuring on Southway’s website. Ryan has recently commissioned local artists to produce pieces for the office shutters, which really draws attention when the office is closed. One represents ‘chaos’’ and the other ‘order’ which was felt to mirror what the credit union does for member’s finances. The University of Cork in Eire has also shown interest in our loan scheme as part of their investigations into ways that housing associations can work more closely with credit unions. We look forward to seeing the results of their research later in the year.


PROUD TO BE INVOLVED IN THE GOVERNMENT KICK START SCHEME The Kick Start scheme offers young people on Universal Credit between the ages of 16-24 a 6-month work placement. Our first cohort at Stockport Homes started their placements in the beginning of April commencing their roles in a wide range of areas of the business from Pantries to the AntiSocial Behaviour team. Working closely with the DWP in the early part of the year, Stockport Homes welcomed young people to multiple virtual information sessions, sharing details of the vacancies available, the values and benefits of working for the organisation and building awareness of potential future job pathways inside the housing sector. Assessment centre workshops were then co-facilitated by the SHG Employment team and department managers allowing the young people to demonstrate their suitability for the roles. Successful candidates were given additional interview preparation sessions by the Stockport Homes employment team to support them to overcome any nerves and fully understand the interview procedure before they progressed to their final interview. This resulted in positive interview experiences for all involved. Stockport Homes have designed a programme of training and employment support to enhance the Kick Start experience. All our Kick Starters have an allocated Employment Support Coach and Kick Start Mentor to guide them through the placement to achieve the maximum benefits from the experience. In many cases, the Kick Start vacancies have the potential to lead to permanent roles, delivering a transformative opportunity for the future of young people locally.

STOCKPORT HOMES ONLINE AND FACE-TO-FACE TRAINING Stockport Homes has been committed to maintaining training for customers throughout the pandemic restrictions. In line with our mission statement, One Team, Transforming Lives – the team created digital sessions to engage, educate and support customers throughout Covid-19. Transitioning from the usual face-to-face service delivery to a digital and remote provision provided customers with the opportunity to continue to access Employment, Well-being, and Community training sessions. This ensured that training remained a vibrant offer as people followed the Stay at Home’messages from the government, establishing a continued training pathway to people in their homes and overcoming the challenges faced by those who were potentially shielding, or selfisolating. In the early stages of lockdown, video sessions focused on well-being after feedback from customers expressing concerns in relation to social distancing and isolation. These sessions discussed coping strategies, concentrating on Resilience, Managing Your Thoughts and Remaining Active. The popular video sessions evolved further to encompass all aspects of customer training including training for Employment and Community topics. Ensuring that as the employment landscape changed customers were able to access essential training sessions. The videos now total 27 and have over 3070 views. In addition to our videos, online interactive training sessions were developed and have welcomed more than 100 customers to virtual training. These workshops have included newly created ‘Job Searching’ and ‘Redundancy Support’ amongst others, designed in response to feedback from customers. These sessions have acted as an essential source of information through the collaboration with specialist partners including the DWP and others. In response to the high levels of referrals the team facilitated an Employment, Training and Wellbeing Fair in February with over 18 different statutory and non-statutory organisations in attendance. Face-to-face sessions are as popular as ever and in the period between September and December 2020 when in person delivery resumed, Stockport Homes welcomed back 95 customers attending in person training. Recent innovations and adaptions have led to a full re-imagining of the Customer Learning Pathway with a plan to deliver a hybrid approach of virtual sessions via digital platforms which will be integrated with face-to-face training in the future.

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT The employment team have continued to be an essential resource for the residents of Stockport during the pandemic. Operating a tenure blind principle, the team are dedicated to supporting the residents of Stockport with access to sustainable employment, training, and volunteering opportunities. The team adapted swiftly to the suspension of face-to-face interventions, expanding social media outreach, increasing engagement via the development of interactive digital drop-ins and digital communication methods in addition to contacting customers by existing routes of phone and email. The team were part of the BBC Radio Manchester £10m ‘Job Hunt’ during 2020, where the Employment Support Manager was interviewed live on multiple occasions sharing tips on job hunting and signposting listeners to the array of digital provision and services provided by Stockport Homes.

STOCKPORT HOMES The team were able to maintain work placement opportunities within the organisation, ensuring that this vital pathway for those returning to work was still available during the pandemic. The employment landscape has altered greatly in 2020 and the organisation is determined to maintain the commitment to supporting those furthest from the employment market. In this respect Stockport Homes continues to deliver the Motiv8 programme designed to support those facing barriers to employment and training, supporting hundreds of participants in Stockport and Rochdale during 2020. In the last 12 months customers have reported anxiety in relation to job losses, financial issues, and the furlough scheme. Stockport Homes Employment team have reached out to maintain high quality service provision ensuring customers were able to harness new skills, maximise their transferrable skills and utilise remote techniques to navigate the new employment landscape. This has resulted in 197 customers moving into employment during 2020. Stockport Homes Employment Creation Officer has also been busy engaging local organisations and supporting recruitment through sector-based events. Recently supporting a local care organisation to recruit 13 individuals though a blended virtual and in person sector-based event. DIGITAL INNOVATIONS ENHANCING THE EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING EXPERIENCE FOR CUSTOMERS

In contrast to the complex challenges faced by supporting customers remotely Stockport Homes have identified some opportunities to develop, innovate and reach even more customers through new digital pathways, engaging over 800 individuals since pivoting to digital and remote working. The developmental impact has been extensive following recent innovations. This has been demonstrated through digital progression of team members who are now utilising new technologies like 360º camera devices to deliver training. In turn customers are embracing new mediums of communication for one-to-one employment sessions and training. Over 60% of customers have expressed an interested in future online training and many customers are making use of zoom and Microsoft Teams to attend one to one sessions with their employment coach. These sessions are especially useful when preparing for online interviews. Ever mindful that not all customers are digitally included Stockport Homes completed a review of all customers engaging with the Employment Team to monitor those who may be digitally excluded and ensure our offer is open to all and that our innovations do not further isolate this group. Working in partnership with local agencies the team have sourced over 40 devices for customers who were previously excluded.


VOLUNTEERS AT YOUR LOCAL PANTRY – FOUNDATIONS STOCKPORT Established in 2014 and part of Foundations Stockport, Your Local Pantry (YLP) offers access to lowcost food for Stockport residents who are struggling financially. Over the last seven years, the pantry network has grown to five physical pantries across Stockport with a sixth mobile pantry aimed at isolated older people in Cheadle. Foundations Stockport also work in partnership with Church Action on Poverty who have rolled out over 40 Your Local Pantries across the UK. Volunteers are crucial to the smooth running of the pantries across the UK as they open the pantries and ensure the pantries are fully operational for customers each week. They are often local community members who also use the pantries. During 2020-21, the pantries scaled up their operations in Stockport to offer a delivery service working in partnership with Stockport Council which saw over 4,000 fresh food parcels being delivered during the first national lockdown and volunteers were essential to ensure these parcels were delivered within 24 hours to those shielding or self-isolating. Over the past year, 2,997 volunteering hours were given to support the pantries and pantry deliveries. As volunteers are key to the successes of the pantries, it is important that they are valued within the organisation. When the YLP team recruit volunteers, it is crucial to understand their reasons for volunteering and what they’d like to gain from this opportunity. The pantry team offer each volunteer free training sessions ranging from Food Hygiene Level 2, Manual Handling and First Aid Training. Regular feedback sessions are also held to ensure volunteer and customer voices are listened to as well as individual supervisions each quarter to discuss their personal and professional development. Over the past year, three volunteers have gone into full time employment through gaining essential skills at the pantries whilst volunteering. Volunteers are rewarded for their hard work throughout the year and especially during Volunteers Week where the pantry team celebrate the achievements of the year and thank all the volunteers. They are also celebrated to the wider Stockport Homes Group through Customer Awards celebrations each year in which groups or individuals receive nominations for their dedication and contribution over the year to support the local community in Stockport.


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