From our pilots – Wigan

“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”

Background

The Wigan-based Pathways to Employment, Training & Education, or “PETE”, Project was established in April 2009 as a partnership between Work Solutions and CRI. Commissioned by Wigan DAAT, its purpose is to increase opportunities for local people to strengthen their recovery and, through training, education and volunteering, enable them to compete for work in the open labour market.

It is now widely accepted that, along with a supportive relationship and stable housing, sustained employment is a fundamental aspect of long-term recovery.

In its first 3 years, a third of all people leaving the service did so either employed or in education, thus providing them with a foundation on which to build a new life outside of addiction. 

Our aims

In partnership with our Commissioners we were keen to contribute to the development of the Payment by Results pilots.  We had witnessed first hand, through our delivery of government welfare-to-work programmes, the positive impact this model can have. We viewed co-design of the programme and the agreement of local tariffs as an opportunity to review our previous practices and, with other local providers, drive change in the system to enable more people in treatment to benefit from our project. 

Challenges

The PETE project delivery model was already one focused on outcomes: people finding work, gaining qualifications, and commencing voluntary work.  Therefore the primary challenge for us was adjusting our funding model to minimise risk whilst continuously improving the service. PETE has relished the opportunity to meet the challenging PbR targets set locally and ensure that the model works as it should; delivering results for those it is here to serve – our clients.

Reflection

Since we went live with the PbR pilot we have seen the rate at which people on our project find work increase by 9% when compared with the equivalent period in 2011. We can attribute this to an increased awareness amongst the local services about what our services can offer; a revision of our assessment criteria to identify realistic goals at an earlier stage; and, in reality, a refocused effort by partner agencies to refer clients now there is a financial imperative to do so.

Since the Pilot began, people accessing our service tell us there has been a renewed urgency to embrace recovery inWigan.  This appetite for change is matched, if not exceeded, by the service users themselves.

“What have I got from coming to PETE? Well, they’ve helped me learn new skills, relearn some old ones, had a share and a laugh and rebuild my confidence and  – yes – given a kick up the backside aswell when needed. Others elsewhere have helped but you’ve done the most and I thank you the most for this because I don’t think I’d be where I am today without you.

 If this sounds like over-sentimental clap-trap to some of you – tough. Others reading this will recognise the feelings I’m trying to express and understand what I mean”

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