Last year, we provided support and guidance to over 28,500 people. You can read some of their inspiring stories below.
We've seen incredible resilience from hard-pressed households and it's important for us to provide that extra support through whatever challenges they face. We've created transforming opportunities for thousands of people, reaching out with cost-of-living support, job prospects and wellbeing activities. In challenging times, we'll continue to play our part in strengthening communities.
If you're struggling, there are lots of ways we can help.
John was going through a big financial crisis when he came to us.
An accident in 2007 had left him with a long-term health condition, restricting his ability to work to two to three days per week. He was also close to retirement age and felt his options were limited.
His day-to-day life had been seriously impacted by cost-of-living challenges. His income was so low, he was struggling to pay for food or cover the bills to keep the gas and electricity going in his home.
John came to us just before Christmas. Employment Officer Suleiman Khan was quick to realise the severity of his case and took urgent action to arrange food vouchers and fuel and gas vouchers to sustain him through the festive period.
I wanted to ensure the vouchers would be available for him to collect before the holiday break as I could not bear the thought of him not having enough food over festive period. Additionally, I arranged a task over to Financial Inclusion Team to ensure he was getting the appropriate benefits and to conduct a budget guidance with him. I also sent a task over to Digital Inclusion Team to help him with his smart phone as John's phone was very old and not reliable for communication, so they put him through a smart phone scheme to get him a new device. Through each referral to various teams, I followed up by checking with the relevant teams and ensured things were moving forward.
John had had experience in the security sector, but his licence had expired. Suleiman got him on an SIA security refresher course, which also covered First Aid training. He checked up on him the day before the course was due to start to make sure he had all the information he needed. He also arranged for his licence application funding and linked him up with employer, JAR Site Solutions, helping John to put his CV together from scratch and even assisting him to buy clothes for his interview.
He was successful and is now excelling in a new career as a qualified SIA security officer.
As well as facing money challenges, she was juggling caring for her family, and home schooling one of her sons.
After spotting our wellbeing courses on Facebook, she was able to access a whole host of free courses to support herself and her family. These included budgeting classes and self-defence sessions for herself; online learning for her son; and activities through Creed Outdoor Learning for the whole family.
I was nervous about going to the self-defence class but, by the end, my confidence had grown, and the sessions made me feel better as a person. The budgeting also helped my family a lot. I had struggled with finances, and saving money, but the course helped me to understand and manage a lot better. It gave me the confidence to contact my utility providers to reduce my bills! “The courses made me want to do more, I’m not naturally very social, but want to try and better myself and learn some new skills. One day my son won’t need me so much so it’s good to know I can access the courses and support.
Dan has autism, and doesn’t like large social interactions, so found it difficult to explore new opportunities away from home.
Partnerships Officer Carly Lynch put Dan in touch with our Wellbeing Team who suggested helping with Bob’s Allotment, a gardening project in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Dan now goes along once a week and is enjoying learning new gardening skills, researching advice and what to plant.
I wouldn’t have been able to go to the allotment, or gain the confidence to show up to the allotment if it wasn’t for Carly’s help because of my anxiety. I feel healthier and more able to motivate myself.
Having worked for various companies, gone through the redundancy process, the whole political process, I realised it would be more rewarding to be running my own company and help to give back to others in terms of employment. My mentor taught me – each one, teach one. That’s really the main objective – have a business and help others as well. I’ve been supported to take that leap outside of my comfort zone. If you don’t try, you don’t succeed.
I had split up with my partner and I’d lost my job. I was suffering with my physical and mental health and had no money coming in. I couldn’t pay my rent. I remember being on the phone and crying my eyes out. I wanted to pay my rent but I just didn’t have the money. I had no idea what to do. Then Financial Inclusion Officer Nigel turned up on my doorstep. I was so scared when I heard ‘officer’. I thought he was going to talk through the eviction process with me. Instead, he calmed me down, told me to put the kettle on and explained he was here to help. He went through what help I was eligible for. I was a little embarrassed as I’d never claimed any sort of help before and I didn’t even know what was available – I’d worked since I left school. But I needn’t have been embarrassed. Nigel put my mind at ease. He helped me fill in all the forms because I struggle with arthritis in my hands. He also helped me with food vouchers so I could eat. He is a legend. He kept the roof over my head. He’s now at the end of the phone or an email if I ever need advice. I just can’t express how grateful I am. He gives me reassurance and it’s nice to know there is somebody there who can help you. If your situation isn’t good and you know it’s going to get worse – don’t leave it until crisis point. I left it until then and I could’ve done something about it sooner.
Karen began struggling with her bills and debt after a complex foot injury left her unable to work.
As well as struggling physically, the injury left her fatigued, anxious and overwhelmed. Unable to cope, she wanted to end her life.
After contacting us, she received support from the Financial Inclusion
to Team to get her finances back on track. The team checked in with her regularly. They also helped her to get in contact with our Wellbeing Team who supported her to access her local pool and a nutritionist to improve her physical health.
In just a few months she went from a size 20 to a size 16 and her mental health has had a fantastic boost too.
I needed practical, financial help – not only did I get that, but it also led me to the amazing wellbeing support. I’m eternally grateful. I’m starting to love myself again, I’ve brought new outfits and feel like a princess! Looking forward to the nutritionist sessions and the swimming helps me to maintain my positivity and overrides the suicidal feelings.
Anne Marie had been a carer for her father after he became unwell. When she came to us, she was unemployed and actively seeking full-time employment in an administration role.
With help from Employment Support Officer, DB Crawford, Anne Marie was able to edit her CV, as well as practice her interview technique to boost her confidence. DB supported her into a volunteering role with our Leasehold and Staircasing Team to get more office experience, and Anne Marie is one step closer to permanent employment.
I feel immensely proud of myself for what I’ve achieved thus far and hope that I’ll be about to get permanent employment soon. DB really look her time to listen and knew exactly what I was looking for. She made things happen. Never give up on your passion, sometimes you might have to go backwards to move forward and sometimes all you need is one person like DB to believe in you.
Residents on the Isle of Wight have the opportunity to get outdoors, make friends and learn gardening skills with the fantastic Muddy Boots project.
Based in the beautiful grounds of Quarr Abbey, we've two plots which have been thriving with a vast array of plants, fruit and veg thanks to hard work by gardener Aaron Williams and our local residents.
With support from No Barriers, an Isle of Wight Council initiative, and Vectis Housing Association the project has become a big success helping to improve the health and wellbeing of residents.
Andy and Danilo, both residents in one of our Learning Disability schemes, are just two of the regulars who come to help out.
Danilo loves the open space and freedom he experiences. Sometimes he finds it hard to be in certain situations and too many people make him uncomfortable at times. Familiarity is key to him feeling safe in his surroundings.
At Muddy Boots, we are able to provide some of this for him, and Laura, one of his main support workers, has the enthusiasm to make this possible. Her dedication to the project is incredible, and is just what is needed.
Andy has been coming on and off since 2011, and in that time has seen the project double in size. On the original plot, there is a large C shaped raised bed. This was built around the reach Andy was able to do while in his wheelchair, and was donated by a local project, holding 12 tons of soil.
Andy enjoys meeting and talking to people he doesn’t live with, and potting up new plants, seeing the progression from seed, to edible fruit and veg. Andy also feels like it’s going to work, as he doesn’t like doing nothing, he needs to be kept busy.
Tina was facing money challenges
After spotting our wellbeing courses on Facebook, she was able to access a whole host of free courses to support herself and her family.
Dan needed a confidence boost
He's now actively involved with Bob’s Allotment, a gardening project in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Anne Marie was unemployed and actively seeking full-time employment
Employment Support Officer DB supported her into a volunteering role with our Leasehold and Staircasing Team to get more office experience, and she's one step closer to permanent employment.
Tracy was at crisis point when she first contacted us
She was supported to get back on track by Financial Inclusion Officer, Nigel
Delroy wanted a new career path
He now runs his own IT support business thanks to help from our Small Business Support Team