Big Lottery Reaching Communities
Grant Report 2011-2014

This has been a very strong and progressive project.
At LEAP we are passionate about supporting our clients in transforming their lives whilst reaching sustainable social and economic outcomes. We can confidently state that this has been achieved and the impact has positively affected a diverse range of people. In all but one case we have overachieved on our targets set at the start of the grant.

The project is now embedded into local hostel, homelessness and employment provisions. In the second year we reached out to more individuals and organisations than ever before and saw a 23% increase in the number of people accessing the service. We have sustained this level of service over the last year.

When the grant was agreed we could not have foreseen the external changes that have taken place through welfare reforms over the last two years. Our support and interventions have been vital when many vulnerable people are facing extreme hardship and sanctions due to the most radical welfare
changes in a decade.

“We empower people who face homelessness to live a fulfilling life of
their choice by helping with the attainment of independent accommodation and employment.”

  • 73 people have moved out of homelessness and into their own independent accommodation, creating a new beginning for the individual and freeing up bed spaces in hostels.
  • 81 people have moved into employment, a substantial and noteworthy figure in such a difficult external environment.
  • 242 clients have accessed work-focused opportunities including work placements and voluntary work as a result of placing meaningful activity at the heart of an individual’s development.

The achievement of our outcomes is a reflection of the team’s hard work, their passion and their determination to support ongoing change in the lives of those they work with.

Strong partnerships are key to LEAP gaining a successful outcome for the beneficiary. Our evaluation emphasised that LEAP was the “glue”, forming new relationships and highlighting available opportunities in the district. This is something we are very proud of. This year we have actively influenced and supported other organisations both regionally and nationally, particularly in areas of coaching attitudinal change and project governance.

Due to a number of factors including the government welfare changes and the buoyancy of the private rented market in Norwich, we did not quite reach our target for placing people into accommodation. Despite this, moving 73 homeless people into independence, and in the process freeing up hostel bed spaces for those on the street, is a noteworthy achievement. This outcome is contributed with 97% of those moved still living in their tenancy. This demonstrates we our supporting a sustained life change and preventing the “revolving door”, which is a well publicised factor affecting our client group.

We have learnt that whilst we are successful at getting those farthest away from the labour market into an employable position, we still face difficulties with accessing real life opportunities and employment for our client group. This is often due to the views and perceptions of employers. Our new catering social enterprise “The Feed” tackles this head on by developing new opportunities, showcasing the work of this group and leading by example.

The introduction of the new volunteer mentor program was both stimulating and challenging. We quickly developed policies, procedures and training provision to the standard required when volunteers are working with a vulnerable group. We are continuing to learn how to best place this extra support, and this year have empowered the mentors to play a more significant role in a client’s development. Staff and mentors are now matched to work with the individual in conjunction with each other. This prevents duplication and increases capacity.

Following the change numbers have increased and feedback from both beneficiaries and staff has been positive.

In the end of the second year, following consultation with new, existing clients and other staff members, we made a major change to the way our weekly drop-in was delivered. The main aim of the change was to reduce waiting time and increase our potential for taking on more clients. Following the change, numbers have increased and feedback from both beneficiaries and staff has been positive.

Our evaluation highlighted that one of our main areas to improve was capturing data around our unintended consequences and peripheral benefits. This would enable the project to capture detailed data to record the impact that LEAP has on health and reduction of beneficiaries using statutory services inappropriately, such as accident and emergency services. Based on this feedback, we are currently in the process of reviewing our data capturing systems and implementing changes.

Our structure under a local authority has brought many benefits but has also limited the project’s flexibility in income generation and fundraising. In some cases we have been unable to access national and regional contracts. This has had a negative impact on achieving sustainability. Having undertaken a systemic consultation, this has manifested into changes in a new service proposal.

We believe moving to a new structure will provide the required degree of flexibility for the project to move forward with its envisaged enterprise ideas and keep its strong partnerships, while gaining new opportunities for funding with the overarching aim of increasing income and future opportunities for the beneficiary group.

Service users continue to play a significant role in the shaping of LEAP.

One unexpected but significant achievement has been our work with ex-offenders. Our statistics for 2013/2014 show that 85% of those we have worked with come from an offending background. This client group is often noted as being difficult to engage and accommodate and face the highest barriers to employment.

As the Mentor Training Programme has developed, we have welcomed a range of volunteers including those beneficiaries who have successfully graduated from the LEAP service and returned to give something back by offering to support new service users at the start of their journey.

Service users continue to play a significant role in the shaping of LEAP and a newly formed consultation group is now embedded into the organisation’s structure. Last year this group were actively involved in helping us look at our service provision, reviewing and refreshing our mission and values. One client representative has also joined the project board.

One of our most notable events to emerge from the last three years was the beneficiary lead film premiere and showcase of our evaluation.

We increasingly see front line services like ourselves flagging up the issue of groups and individuals with extremely low levels of self-esteem, achievement and employability, which in turn causes poor levels of engagement and leads to high levels of social exclusion. To address this we lead on the implementation of “GOALS”- a model of good practice across the region. GOALS is a two day motivational training course which tackles the above issues in an effective way. Clients have responded positively to the impact that this training has had on them, and it has changed the way we work with clients increasing our employment outcomes by 115%.

Our independent project evaluation has highlighted our successes and value. It has highlighted not only the benefits of the project to beneficiaries, but also our positive relationships with stakeholders, as well as the social and financial value to society. This evaluation enabled us to identify not only successes but also areas where we can improve, adapt or enhance, which have been included in new service proposals. Such analysis supports us as a growing team and helps ensure our sustainability into the future.

One of our most notable events to emerge from the last three years was the beneficiary lead film premiere and showcase of our evaluation. This regional conference was well attended and we were able to share our learning and outcomes. LEAP beneficiaries presented their powerful stories of their journeys through the project. The event was highlighted by the EDP, Mustard TV, BBC Look East and BBC Radio Norfolk.

Barry Allard
Project Manager

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