Opening Doors, a magazine originally released just before the pandemic hit, has been updated and re-launched to encourage employers in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) to think differently about recruiting people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). The publication lays out a sound business case for considering this group, from the plethora of organisations offering free support for employers, to the evidence around retention and loyalty often seen from those with SEND.
Opening Doors is written from an employer’s perspective by local community interest company Clean Slate, with the understanding that many employers may feel they do not know enough about working with those with SEND to make it viable. With expert input from Three Ways School, Leonard Cheshire and trailblazing employers like National Grid, the publication addresses common misconceptions and offers signposting for further support while also highlighting employers’ legal duties.
Lucy Beattie, Fundraising, Marketing and Development Manager, at Three Ways School explains the thinking behind launching the magazine: “We wanted to bring stakeholders together to see how we could inspire employers about the talent we have available in our SEND jobseekers. We see long-term, unfilled vacancies across the whole B&NES area and we have candidates who are just not being given a chance. We know it seems like a challenge but we can provide the back-up to both employers and their staff.”
Jeff Mitchell, Founder Director at Clean Slate, says: “Our message to employers is simple: If you’re screening out SEND jobseekers, you’re not only missing out on talent, you might also be in breach of the law. This guide is designed to inspire employers to think differently. Many solutions are straightforward and we’ve mapped out the steps in these pages.”
Opening Doors features case studies from people with SEND working in the wider B&NES area, as well hearing from their employers who explain their journey to date. Many employers are seeing tangible benefits such as freeing up expert staff, better reflecting their customer base and reduced absenteeism.
Opening Doors is available for free here.
Anna Dietrich wins place on prestigious learning programme and up to £15,000 to improve local community
Anna Dietrich, the Regional Lead for the West of England at Clean Slate Training and Employment, is one of 15 leaders in Bath and North East Somerset to have been selected for a competitive learning programme and Match Trading grant of up to £15,000.
The programme will help Anna to implement the innovative Elements project at Clean Slate, supporting people on a low income and those long-term unemployed to develop their life experience into skills an employer will value. This builds on pilot projects already underway at Clean Slate, which supports people on a low income to take control of their money, find work (or better work) and get online.
Once people have addressed their immediate needs via Clean Slate’s one-to-one services, money skills and employment training, those who feel ready will be supported to understand and develop the skills that their own challenges and life experience have given them, with the option to develop towards work in the care and support sector which is currently facing a staffing crisis.
Anna has begun a four-month Accelerator learning programme with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, which supports people starting up and running social enterprises, charities, community business and environmental projects.
Anna says: “I am excited to have been accepted onto the BaNES Social Entrepreneurs Programme. The programme, and Match Trading grant of up to £15,000 will help me develop the Elements programme at Clean Slate, so I can support more people in BaNES in 2022.”
Bath and North East Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme is led by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in partnership with 3SG. It is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, which is managed by the West of England Combined Authority within the Bath and North East Somerset region.
Dirk Rohwedder, South West Director for School for Social Entrepreneurs, says: “We are delighted to welcome Anna Dietrich onto the Accelerator programme, where they’ll learn alongside other community leaders how to build a more resilient organisation and create greater social impact for the region. We are confident Anna has the leadership qualities and motivation to increase their impact on BaNES even further, which is why we have awarded her a highly coveted place.”
As part of the programme, SSE has partnered with 3SG to provide free support through workshops and events until the end of June 2022. These will tackle subjects ranging from managing finances and fundraising to future planning and scaling up. They are open to all social enterprises, community businesses, charity and voluntary organisations in Bath and North East Somerset whether or not they’re on the programme and can be booked here: 3sg.org.uk/bsep
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has partnered with Quids in! to produce a free 8-page magazine, available in dual language Bengali-English, warning people about the dangers of borrowing money from loan sharks.
The magazine is free of charge and primarily aimed at low income social tenants in Tower Hamlets. It is written in Quids in!’s accessible style and includes advice and information about how to spot the signs of illegal money lending and the support available for people affected by this crime.
Quids in! Magazine is published by Clean Slate Training & Employment. The magazine provides advice for those who are struggling with their finances and may be at risk of being targeted by unscrupulous lenders.
The guide has been funded by proceeds of crime money which has been confiscated from convicted loan sharks following successful prosecutions.
A comic strip has also been designed to highlight the dangers of dealing with loan sharks, who are motivated by their own greed and will often trap victims into a vicious cycle of spiralling debts through threats, violence and intimidation.
The story shows ‘Joan Clark the Loan Shark’ offering loans at extremely high interest rates with no credit checks.
A loan shark is someone who lends money as a business without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Loan sharks are unregulated money lenders that prey on vulnerable people and charge extortionate interest rates. They often resort to using harassment, intimidation, threats and violence to pressure people into paying back loans
Signs to look out for when dealing with loan sharks:
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks prey on the vulnerable within our communities, with victims trapped in a cycle of debt with extortionate interest rates and the very real threat of violence and intimidation.
“We want to make sure people are aware of where to go for support and encourage anyone who has fallen victim to loan sharks to report it as soon as possible on our confidential helpline or via live chat on our website.
Lisa Woodman, Head of Business Development at Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC, said: “We were thrilled to receive funding from the England Illegal Money Lending Team to enable us to produce a Quids in! Guide about loan sharks, in dual language, English and Bengali.
“Over 5000 copies have been printed and distributed to low income social tenants in Tower Hamlets, to raise awareness of the risks of borrowing money from an illegal lender, with a clear call to action for those who have been targeted.
“We also partnered with social landlord Poplar Harca, who very much welcomed the opportunity to be able to distribute an accessible, trusted magazine, with clear messaging, to some of their most vulnerable tenants.”
Residents who believe they may be involved with a loan shark or suspect that one is operating in their area can report it to the Illegal Money Lending Team by calling 0300 555 2222, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out an online form at stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
You can read the Quids in! guide about loan sharks at: quidsinpro.com/quids-in-guides/loan-sharks-dont-take-the-bait/
Clean Slate has joined forces with Mastercard and Lloyds Banking Group to tackle digital and financial exclusion across the UK.
The move is part of the Nobody In The Dark campaign, which was first launched in November 2020.
Since then, more national lockdowns have seen a rapid shift to digital, meaning those who were already struggling to get online are being left further behind.
Now with Lloyds on board, there is a renewed focus on helping people on low incomes to use digital tools to manage their finances, use medical services and connect with loved ones.
Lloyds found that despite rapid digitalisation since March 2020, there is still a huge disparity in access to digital services. The Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2021 survey found those with a household income of £50,000 or more, are 40 per cent more likely to be able to carry out basic digital tasks than those earning less than £17,499. It also revealed that the highest proportion of internet non-users are in Wales, the East Midlands and the North East of England.
The Nobody in the Dark campaign will offer personalised, face-to-face support to digitally and financially excluded people from 18 centres across the UK in locations such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and Swansea.
Jeff Mitchell, Founder of Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC, said:
“The people we work with simply don’t have the same opportunities as those who are digitally connected. Programmes like these are vitally important to ensuring we build a fair society where people can provide fully for themselves and their families. The roll out gives us an opportunity to make some positive progress following a year that has been especially hard for those in lower income brackets, making sure they are not further behind when everyone else is getting ahead.”
This new drive builds on the success of a 2020 pilot, which reached hundreds of people across the UK. Users learned how to take simple steps like changing utility providers and accessing financial services.
Back in November Mastercard lit up tower blocks in London and Bristol for 19 minutes 40 seconds to represent the 19.4 million Britons* who feel in the dark due to digital and financial exclusion made worse by the pandemic. (*Source: YouGov)
The coalition behind Nobody in the Dark, which also includes Good Things Foundation, offers a free self-service web hub, nobodyinthedark.co.uk, which signposts online support about money and digital skills like online safety, and links to a pilot service developed by Clean Slate to help people ‘future-proof’ their finances.
Clean Slate has received central government funding to provide laptops to people across Bath & North East Somerset who are digitally excluded.
We have teamed up with Wiltshire Digital Drive (WDD), a non-profit organisation which refurbishes and recycles donated laptops to gift back to the community.
The initiative will not only grant low-income households access to the benefits of online tools and resources. It will also extend the life cycle of hardware that would ultimately end up in landfill.
Anyone who receives a laptop will be offered our Money Health-Check for one-to-one support on how to use their device to manage their finances.
Around 50 laptops will be distributed this week, with more to follow.
Clean Slate is working with other organisations in the region to set up a referrals process.
From January 2021, over 500 benefit claimants in West London will receive up to six weeks financial guidance support funded by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Job centres from nine boroughs, including Kingston, Hillingdon and Brent, are referring 540 claimants for up to six weeks’ financial guidance support. Clean Slate will deliver an initial money health-check by phone, exploring participants’ money worries, the root causes and the extent of the problem. Using a toolkit designed by Quids in!, Clean Slate’s money skills initiative, a money health-check generates a series of next steps for claimants to follow, working towards improved financial wellbeing.
Clean Slate Founder, Jeff Mitchell, said: “Until lockdown, our support work mainly consisted of face-to-face delivery of money guidance, employment support and digital access in three very local areas of England. Necessity drove us to reinvent a remotely delivered service and now we’ve been able to increase our reach exponentially.”
Participants benefit from weekly calls with support workers to identify their priority needs, conduct budget reviews and explore ways to reduce costs and increase income. Where possible, savings plans are discussed and if specialist debt, housing or mental health advice is required, claimants are signposted to appropriate agencies.
The money health-check revolves around the online Future-Proof Finance Quiz, originally designed as a self-help tool for Quids in! magazine readers. In 2020, in partnership with the Good Things Foundation and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Mastercard, the Quiz was upgraded to include links to digital tools and resources. The aim was to help improve digital confidence and literacy so people on low incomes could access digital help to manage their money better.
“Our work under the Quids in! name has spanned the UK,” Jeff Mitchell added. “The money Quiz was one way we helped low income household help themselves towards financial resilience. Not only did that tool come into its own during lockdown, we were able to invest in it to ensure people could find a lot of help that is online but difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for.”
More on Clean Slate’s Money Health-Check service here.
One hundred Welsh claimants in crisis will receive twelve weeks’ support thanks to a new service commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions.
A three-month version of Clean Slate’s money health-check and financial guidance service was launched in Wales around Christmas 2020. One hundred benefit claimants in some form of financial crisis will benefit from the phone-based service.
A team of support workers will work through an initial triage to explore participants’ money worries, the root causes and the extent of the problem. Using a toolkit designed by Quids in!, Clean Slate’s money skills initiative, a money health-check generates a series of next steps for claimants to follow, working towards improved financial wellbeing.
Clean Slate Founder, Jeff Mitchell said: “Quids in! has been operating in Wales for years, publishing bilingual products and working with the Illegal Money Lending Team, for example. We’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to create a Welsh team, however, because it’s important workers know what’s needed and what’s available in Wales. The pandemic was just the tipping point, with so many now forced onto Universal Credit or struggling without any savings to fall back on.”
Participants benefit from three monthly food vouchers and weekly calls with support workers to progress applications for emergency funding, conduct budget reviews and explore ways to reduce costs and increase income. Where possible, savings plans are discussed and if specialist debt, housing or mental health advice is required, claimants are signposted to appropriate agencies.
In the first seven weeks, more than 60 claimants have been referred to the service.
“We’ve had some very harrowing calls but people really appreciate hearing from us. We’re all so isolated right now. Difficult times have become desperate times for many – it’s not even as if it’s easy for friends to reach out to friends with help and advice. Some simple steps, and just knowing someone is there, are making a big difference to people.”
The money health-check revolves around the online Future-Proof Finance Quiz, originally designed as a self-help tool for Quids in! magazine readers. In 2020, in partnership with the Good Things Foundation and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Mastercard, the Quiz was upgraded to include links to digital tools and resources. The aim was to help improve digital confidence and literacy so people on low incomes could access digital help and manage their money better.
A Budgeting service has also been commissioned to support 32 claimants using Rhyl Job Centre. This five-to-six week programme also begins with a money health-check but aims to support people prior to reaching crisis point. It signposts them to support and focuses on ways participants can help themselves.
More on the Money Health-Check service from Clean Slate here.
Finance giant backs Clean Slate and partners to deliver service to low income households linking them to online help with their finances
On 11th November 2020 Mastercard shone a light on digital and financial exclusion by lighting up tower blocks in London and Bristol. The buildings were lit up for 19 minutes 40 seconds, to represent the 19.4 million Britons* who are not prepared for the current economic downturn. They feel in the dark, due to digital and financial exclusion made worse by COVID-19. (*Source: YouGov)
Buildings were located in residential areas in Southwark, London, and Hartcliffe, Bristol, where Clean Slate offers a money health-check service by phone and online to help people develop digital skills and re-organise their finances. [Click below to see more, including incredible footage of the messages]
Influential poet and mental health advocate, Hussain Manawer, joined the campaign to craft the powerful messages projected onto the tower blocks. Growing up in East London, Manawer was exposed to crime and juvenile behaviour which for many, harmed the ambition of their futures. Now, as a campaigner he uses his voice to raise awareness of the support available to help the millions of people who feel left behind or in the dark.
His messages ‘In The Dark?’ and ‘With a year full of so many question marks, I know it’s hard to find yourself in the dark’ illuminated the night, inviting people on lower incomes to search for help if they feel the economic downturn has hit them in the pocket.
Hussain Manawer said: “The term digital inclusion is something that affects many people in my life. There are so many people I know and love that are used to dealing with things their way, however with everything changing so quickly it’s important this lets people know that they are really not alone.
Clean Slate is part of a coalition of organisations, led by Mastercard, coming together with the campaign ‘Nobody in the Dark’, offering digital and financial support and guidance to those in need. It aims to promote financial and digital literacy across the UK. It is supported by Mastercard, Good Things Foundation, Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and The APLE Collective.
Its self-service web hub, Nobodyinthedark.co.uk, signposts online support about money and digital skills like online safety, and links to a pilot service developed by Clean Slate to help people ‘future-proof’ their finances.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Clean Slate’s money health-check service, using the Future-Proof Finance Quiz devised by our money skills programme Quids in!, is conducted by phone.
We guide people through the online toolkit, which identifies steps people on low incomes might take to improve their finances. People can self-refer or advisors can refer them via our home page and the ‘Make A Referral’ link.
For more information, drop us a line at email@example.com
New partnerships to integrate digital tools into Clean Slate drive to improve financial wellbeing
A digital inclusion charity and Clean Slate have launched a programme combining digital tools with financial guidance for people on low incomes across England. The scheme, backed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Mastercard, aims to help 450 people in the next six months. Working with the Good Things Foundation, Clean Slate will team up with Online Centres to increase participants’ IT skills and confidence while also helping them become better off. It joins a range of initiatives designed to support people through the impact of Coronavirus and the lockdown.
Clean Slate Director, Jeff Mitchell, said: “During lockdown, many people had to rethink any reservations they may have had towards digital. There was no popping out to withdraw cash to pay bills or check the bank balance. And no more taking the kids to visit grandparents. Nor were the cafes and libraries open, where Clean Slate usually meets people to work through their finances or find work. It’s a new normal for all of us. We had to ask what could be done remotely and online… and then how we’d help people get online and find their way around. Life gave us a right bunch of lemons but the work with Good Things means we can make lots of lemonade!”
People local to Clean Slate’s ‘Quids In Centres’ in Bath and NE Somerset, Gloucestershire, East and South London can book a money health-check. People will also be able to do the same if they are close to one of five Online Centres: In the Midlands, Smartlyte (Birmingham), in the North East Meadow Well Connected (North Shields), The Chinese Centre (Newcastle) or Hartlepower CIC (Hartlepool), or in the North West Kensington Community Learning Learning Centre (Liverpool).
People with a device other than their phone will be guided through a simple online Quiz over the phone. If they only have a smartphone to access the internet, the support worker fills it in on their behalf. It identifies ways they might stretch and grow their budget and generates and emails a plan to work through with support, if they want it. Each step it recommends comes with a weblink to further help available online, which support workers will also guide people through.
“Having now merged with Quids in!, Clean Slate can use that national reach to work with partners around the UK,” added Jeff Mitchell. “It’s exciting to extend to partnerships with friends in the North, and in Scotland (during the trial phase), and our project lead is in North Wales. This is a taste of the future for us. Of course, the Quids in! website also gives us virtually unlimited reach. We just need to get word out about the help it can offer and we have some exciting news to follow on this.”
Publishers of the Quids in! Guide to Universal Credit release special issue to support new claimants triggered by coronavirus lockdown
Quids in!, the money skills initiative, publishes an emergency, digital edition of the Guide to Universal Credit on 15th April 2020 for new claimants affected by coronavirus. The publication is available to landlords, authorities and support agencies to distribute in bulk, as well as for individuals via the Quids in! online store
A million low-paid earners and self-employed people were forced to claim welfare in just two weeks in March. Quids in!, which has already published 10 editions of its Universal Credit Guide, has redesigned the publication to reflect the particular challenges faced by people who are usually in employment. Content has been adapted for people who might never have expected to be forced onto welfare, drawing on its experience catering for people more used to living on the breadline. A lot of what the first UC claimants learned the hard way is included.
Quids in! editor, Jeff Mitchell said: “The government tells us coronavirus is a ‘great leveller’. Well, it has certainly levelled over a million people forced onto benefits as their work dried up when the country locked down. That throw away statistic that many of us are just one pay cheque away from disaster suddenly rings true.”
The publication is the latest response to the financial fall-out caused by coronavirus from Quids in! and its parent organisation Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC. In March, it launched a ‘Corona-Finance’ service with a Frequently Asked Questions section on its website offering clarity and reassurance about support available to people struck down financially. A web link is available for readers to submit questions they have about their own situation. The money email service, run by the Quids In Readers Club, has been upgraded to keep subscribers up-to-date on the latest help on offer during this crisis.
Jeff Mitchell added: “This won’t be over when the lockdown ends. We may all find we need to continue to tighten our belts. There is no silver bullet for dodging debt but there are some golden rules. Quids in! is all about ways to help us all spend less, save more, borrow less and bring in more money.”
Over 300,000 copies of the Quids in! Guide to Universal Credit have already been sold as a 32-page magazine. It focuses on the ‘3 Bs’, drawing on pitfalls experienced by early claimants with the new system, such as not having an appropriate bank account, not being online or not being able to budget for a large, single payment made in arrears. The Corona-Finance edition of the Guide focuses around living on less and accessing help that people who are new to the welfare system may be unaware of.
The new version is available in PDF to send to tenants, residents and service users affected financially by the coronavirus lockdown. An online publishing platform version has been prepared for publication on customers’ websites.
For further information, contact Lisa Woodman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 08456 460 469.