What is Opportunity and Change?

Opportunity and Change is an employment-related support project for people facing severe and multiple disadvantage. It is delivered by a partnership of community-based organisations across D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire). The project is led by Framework.

Our project supports unemployed or economically inactive individuals, referred to as participants, experiencing at least two of the following:

  • Being homeless or vulnerably housed
  • Problematic substance or alcohol misuse
  • At risk of offending or reoffending
  • Mental ill-health
  • Domestic Abuse

The project is part of the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) Programme, which is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and The National Lottery Community Fund.

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Coronavirus: how we are supporting participants during the pandemic

 

Since March 2020 the Coronavirus pandemic has given rise to an unprecedented situation, affecting the lives of us all and resulting in the closure of key services and support agencies. During this time the health, safety and wellbeing of Opportunity and Change participants remains our priority, and the partnership has been working tirelessly to ensure that participants remain supported.

We are continuing to accept new referrals; offering a remote induction to the project and telephone/online support until we are in a position to fully assess participant eligibility and resume face-to-face contact.

The project is responding to the crisis in the following ways:

All face-to-face appointments have been replaced with telephone and online support (e.g. Zoom, WhatsApp, email, etc.)

Frequency of contact has increased; Navigators are checking-in more often to help reduce feelings of isolation

Up to date resources are being shared, including: mental health tools, online training courses and financial support

Participants accessing counselling services have been able to continue to do so via phone or using a virtual meeting platform

Participants who are missing their weekly Skills Plus for Change sessions are being offered alternative support online

Navigator support has adapted to meet the practical needs of participants; ensuring they have access to food parcels, toiletries, utilities and delivering prescriptions where necessary

Navigator insights:

How has the Coronavirus impacted on you and your work?

“I’ve been working from home and trying to educate my 5yr old too, so it’s been hard to establish boundaries. I’ve not been able to see participants and as we know face-to-face interaction is important because anybody can be anybody on a phone. 

I want to share something that happened today just to show how we are adapting and doing our best. I received a call from a participant I support who is 8 months pregnant. She sounded very tired and down. In new surroundings, she has been struggling to get shopping and baby items, and to top it off we are now in the middle of a pandemic!

I asked her if she had tried online shopping and she couldn’t get a delivery slot, so using a family contact who runs a support group for vulnerable people, I asked if they had a point of contact in the participant’s location. She did and was able to pass on their details. 

After a few calls and permission from the participant, she now has support from trusted key people who will shop for her and also donate baby equipment.

To hear the relief in her voice when we spoke after is what makes my job rewarding and shows the service we provide actually makes a difference”.

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