When we take transformative action, no matter what that action is, we do it when we can see or believe something else is possible in our life.  How many of us have wanted to make a change for years and didn’t?  What’s stopping you?  Fundamentally, we need to be in a mind-set where enough is ‘at stake’ for us to want to make a change, matched with belief, support and then action.  No amount of nagging or best-intentioned advice will work.  Government programmes can’t really do this; they tend to apply a crude logic e.g. A + B = C.  But, simply ‘knowing’ what’s  good for us doesn’t make us do it.  Similarly, being forced into something (you must apply for 25 jobs every week, you must do job search for 35 hours each week) creates resistance, powerlessness and even perverse outcomes.  How many of us see 100’s of unsuitable CV’s coming in for jobs we’re recruiting to, ever wondered why?  People claiming benefits are forced to apply for jobs, their lack of success  reinforces their belief that there is no job out there for them, so what’s the point?

At TLC we wanted to flip this – give choices, time, support and have everyone involved because they want to be. We support unemployed people to take the necessary steps to return to work or gain a job for the first time.  Our approach is founded on years of experience in the public sector where most interventions are ‘done to’ people and not done with / alongside people.  Our team’s expertise spans the welfare to work sector, recruitment, employment, coaching and mental health.  We believe that when people have a) a genuine choice to be involved, or not b) a choice about what they want to focus on c) a chance to grow at their pace and d) support from people as mentors and coaches – remarkable change can occur.  40% of people we support will gain a job.  Most haven’t worked in a long time.

We create volunteering opportunities in civic, interesting and inspiring locations as part of a new movement that’s bringing people who have a job together with those who haven’t.  We deliberately refer to all people who get involved as volunteers not clients, users, customers.  This has the effect of transferring the power to attend, or not, to each person.  People tell us that being part of GiveGetGo is the first time they’ve believed they have a choice (one that isn’t a forced choice) and have been able to take the time they need to explore where they’re at, what help they want and to not worry about conditions being applied to them.

We work predominantly with housing associations and we can see our work impacting on people who, for example, are hoarders and have significant mental health barriers to coping independently; as well as people recovering from addiction and are now taking steps to engage in positive activity.  We have also been asked to use our approach in co-producing an employability pathway with people with lived experience of homelessness.  And now, we’re hoping to train more people in work to become mentors.  Our impact and approach using coaching conversations, volunteering, choice and involving businesses and partners like the University of Liverpool is unique and can impact in many settings beyond employability.

What next? Let’s create more volunteering opportunities, train more people in our coaching skills and how to create conversations that ‘work’ and support more people to grasp the possibility to take action.  We’ll also be playing our part as one of Nesta and Osca’s Good Help awardees in 2019 find out how here  https://mailchi.mp/nesta.org.uk/next-steps-for-good-help?e=e391f00834