Looking back on 2020 ....

Posted 12.12.2020

This year has inevitably been one that has been a challenge and one to remember. Building Better Opportunities has been one of many support programmes that has had to adapt and try to continue engaging with vulnerable participants during a time that people’s needs and barriers have become more pronounced due to anxieties around leaving the house – never mind starting employment.

Despite this, we have successfully continued to engage people on to the programme and ensure they have the bespoke support needed to ensure they are supported. We have seen participants’ confidence continue to increase and allow people to still develop their skills. It is clear that despite the challenges, the pandemic has actually presented many opportunities.

As Stakeholder Managers we have been able to continue supporting the BBO delivery partners to gain referrals, whilst influencing the wider employment and skills, and financial inclusion landscape. With only a few more weeks until the new year, with new possibilities, we have enjoyed looking back over the last year at the successes and partnerships built.

At the start of the year, we had planned to run Recruiting Talent events focusing on enhancing the Inclusive Recruitment agenda across the D2N2 counties. Despite a requirement to postpone these to 2021, we have continued discussions and progress continues to be made in the area. East Midlands Chamber has developed a webinar called ‘understanding bias and unconscious bias’, designed to help employers understand the need to consider new recruits and employees inclusively and view diversity within the workforce as a benefit to growth. It is important to continue to challenge businesses on their recruitment practices and to be more inclusive in recruitment techniques and practices. These sessions will continue virtually in the new year.

In Derby City, we have adapted to the development of Youth Hubs (DWP) by employing a Youth Specialist to work within our Towards Work delivery partner to better align ourselves the type of participant being referred and to maximise engagement. So far this is working exceptionally well and may be something considered in other D2N2 local authority areas for 2021.

In Derbyshire, we have progressed discussions around linking the Derbyshire Discretionary Fund service to financial support (Money Sorted) through a behavioural insight approach to encourage engagement. This is progressing well and will be delivered as a pilot project running between February 2021 and July 2021 to see whether embedded referral processes using behavioural science works for increased referrals and take-up of support services.

In Nottingham City, the financial inclusion agenda has been progressed through the support of the Financial Summit, which was a landmark summit attracting more than 70 local and national experts and practitioners assembled for an emergency online discussion, including Stakeholder Managers, MPs, councillors, local employers, public health and housing professionals, and a wide range of local advice and support services. The summit, organised by the Nottingham Financial Resilience Partnership, was set up to share and highlight the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic on residents, including key metrics on the adverse impacts, who has been hit the most and how vulnerable residents can be best supported in the weeks and months ahead.

In Nottinghamshire, we continue to embed employment, education and training activity into the local communities and develop local strategy. Working in 7 Nottinghamshire districts we lead on Employment and Skills Partnerships (ESPs) in Mansfield, Broxtowe and Newark & Sherwood, contribute to ESPs in Gedling, Bassetlaw and Rushcliffe and, in 2021, we’re developing a new partnership in Ashfield.   These partnerships bring together organisations that are delivering employment and skills in each district and aims to formalise this with a local action plan.

Across all areas, work continues across all departments and the work of Building Better Opportunities is linked to department strategies; with the recognition that partnership working is key to the success of the programme.

In all areas we have continued to link our delivery projects to social and therapeutic programmes and mental health support to ensure continued resilience and wellbeing of our participants.

At a time that mental and physical health has been brought to the forefront because of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, we have continued to strengthen the link between health and work and the need to continue moving people closer to the labour market. Financial resilience and economic security can really help give people a purpose and a sense of identity and achievement. We have learnt that despite economic pressures from the pandemic, opportunities are out there. The Building Better Opportunities programme is one of them.

If you are working with vulnerable individuals, or if you, or a family member, require support to progress and overcome barriers, please contact the relevant BBO project to make a referral:

Towards Work email BBOreferrals@groundworknottingham.org.uk

Opportunity & Change email opportunityandchange@frameworkha.org

Money Sorted email info@moneysortedind2n2.org

Stakeholder Managers will also be happy to answer any questions about BBO projects and will continue conversations about the progression of the employment and skills agenda, as well as working inclusively and in partnership with other stakeholders to fill gaps in the landscape and to continue meeting the changing need of our communities. If you would like to contact your local SM, please visit the contact webpage.

BBO is having a significant impact on individual lives, supporting people to increase their confidence, independence and achieve their employment aspirations.

See what our participants have to say in these case studies …

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