Connecting Choices Essex

The Connecting Choices ESF-funded project aims to help people who are furthest from the labour market to overcome barriers and move towards or into sustainable volunteering, education, training or employment. Ixion were selected as prime contractor by BLF, and will work with a partnership of end-to-end and specialist providers including Project 507, Chelmsford CAB, Colchester CVS and Realise Futures to develop this project.

The project is expected to run from July 2017 to December 2019.

The project works with unemployed and economically inactive people aged 19+ who have a history of moving in and out of the labour market, including those in a cycle of seasonal or temporary jobs. This may include individuals with a particular barrier such as health, mental health problems or learning difficulties that impact on their ability to sustain employment; people with housing difficulties; ex-offenders; and people from ethnic minority groups.

Delivery will target people most in need who live in areas of high deprivation, benefit claims and/or economic inactivity, as well as isolated rural or coastal communities. These comprise:

Southend-on-Sea: particularly Kursaal, Victoria, Milton, St Luke’s, Southchurch

Basildon: particularly Vange, St Martin’s, Pitsea

Thurrock: particularly Tilbury Riverside & Thurrock Park, Tilbury St Chads, Grays, Belhus

Harlow: particularly Staple Tye, Mark Hall, Netteswell

Jaywick: particularly Golf Green, Rush Green, Pier

Clacton: particularly Clacton Pier, Alton Park, Rush Green

The project aims to:

  • Maximise the take-up and impact of local services
  • Improve social inclusion
  • Improve skills to enable people to take up employment
  • Increase levels of work experience and volunteering
  • Improve confidence and self-esteem

Project 507 will support 40 unemployed and economically inactive young adult people aged 18-24 being released from prison via the Essex CRC into the towns listed above, and who have multiple and complex needs. They will have a history of offending and inconsistent employment. Our project will target those whose potential for sustained employment is most likely to be complicated by their criminogenic behaviours, attitudes, and multiple issues, including:

  • ‘Revolving door’ offenders (short sentences of less than 6 months)
  • Affected by violence//violent offences
  • High risk as deemed by OMU/CRC/NPS

We have employed a dedicated specialist caseworker who will support participants through their journey to overcome barriers to move towards and into sustainable volunteering, education, training or employment.

We offer an intensive, holistic service to meet individual needs through ongoing support and minimum fortnightly coaching and review sessions. The following activities will be available based on the individual needs of participants:

  • Coaching: resilience; employability skills; tailored careers guidance to develop realistic job goals; CV creation/tailoring; job-matching; workplace behaviours; employer expectations.
  • 1:1 support to challenge participants’ thinking, behaviour and emotional state of mind, providing a safe environment to explore a positive sense of identity. Exploring the effects of all forms of violence experienced on thinking and behaviour.
  • Advocacy and accompaniment: this will be a highly intensive service, through which the caseworker has the time and capacity to support the participant to attend housing, JCP, GP appointments to ensure they take up existing support services which will address barriers and increase their ability to source and sustain in work/education/training.
  • Teaching coping mechanisms to successfully manage anger and mental health issues in the workplace/learning; again maximising chances of sustainment in work.
  • Clinical support to address and overcome psychological and emotional traumas stopping them from moving forwards in their lives.
  • Advising on spent/unspent convictions and how to disclose these to employers/training providers/others.
  • Training: access to accredited training to address skills gaps including Basic Skills, ESOL; discretionary budget for certificated training/development activity not available elsewhere/
  • Financial literacy: money management, debt advice via Money Advice Service and local partners; understanding/accessing credit; Better Off Calculation to ascertain viable hours/earnings and Universal Credit conditionality thresholds.
  • Self-employment and business start-up advice, exploring entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to direct employment.
  • Volunteering and work placements: to build vocational skills.
  • Employer involvement: sector routeways with key employers which are tailored for participants, and development of Skills Academies in regional growth sectors including expansion of Ixion’s Logistics Academy (Tilbury Port).
  • Into-work transition: action planning and three months’ practical support.

Contact Details

For more information or to make a referral please email: