Building financial resilience in young people and families

Building financial resilience in young people and families

Rocket Science held an event on how to build finanical resilience in young people in May, find out more about the discussions, learning and access event notes and presentations.

 

Building financial resilience in people of all ages is critical to help them manage their working lives now and in the future.  Traditionally much of the support provided to help people manage their money and debt has been as a one off intervention, usually at a point of crisis.  However if people are to survive the challenges of managing their income when they are in insecure or low paid employment they are really going to need to have good financial education.

Last year Rocket Science was commissioned by four charities; Centrepoint, National Skills Academy for Financial Services, Quaker Social Action and Shelter Scotland to conduct an evaluation of their financial capability projects funded through the Money Advice Service What Works Fund.

The projects were testing new ideas and approaches to building financial capability, two of which focused on building the skills and offer for vulnerable young people and those facing transition.  One is working with families through coaching and training to develop a family approach to money management and the other has supported health care professionals in their work with people facing a combination of health and money challenges.

The event brought the learning from the evaluations, published this month, to a non-financial capability audience, including funders, commissioners and organisations working with people to improve their employment, education and life chances.

Discussions revealed that people still find talking about money or thinking ahead really hard to do.  Some of this is down to a lack of education, learnt behaviours (from parents) and in many cases being in a place where considerations about money management are just not a priority.

 

This means that people will only ask for help when they are in crisis.  Many services are designed and funded to provide one-off support, rather than as part of an on-going offer.  Often services also tend to resolve issues for people rather than giving them the skills and confidence to do it themselves.

These projects have looked at ways in which you can build better attitudes towards money management and in turn create behavioural change.

A key learning point has been the need to have an on-going trusted relationship with an advisor and recognition that people often face multiple transitions, meaning that good intentions can be derailed by life events and impact on mental health.

The main take away point for me, was that financial education needs to be recognised as a key life skill.  Importantly, we need to ensure that this becomes integral to the support we provide people of all ages to manage their personal and working lives.

The notes from the event can be found here Financing and planning for an uncertain future event note May 2018, alongside the  Presentation slides and details of the organisations who presented Information and contact details.

If you would like to find out more about our work in this area, please get in touch.

Caroline

[email protected]

 

Caroline is an Associate Director at Rocket Science based in our London office.  You can check out her profile here.
Insight from our Rocket Scientists – Working with Young People

Insight from our Rocket Scientists – Working with Young People

This week we ask some of our Rocket Scientists What is important for services that support young people?

Over the last year, we have evaluated a range of programmes supporting young people. Our clients include the Wise Group, Venture Trust, Scottish Waterways Trust, Princes Trust, and Centrepoint. This work has given us the opportunity to refresh our insights into what works when helping young people to improve their education, employability and financial resilience.

Using this insight we have asked our Rocket Scientists to share lessons they have learned about what works for young people.

Dina Papamichael, Assistant Consultant

For me, it is crucial to understand the intersecting issues which young people can face. For young people, issues around health and employment are so closely linked with self-confidence, social inclusion, substance misuse, homelessness and mental health. The most successful interventions enable a young person to overcome multiple challenges on the road to the programme’s primary objective. A programme which helps young people gain a qualification while developing a social network can have the impact of boosting self-confidence, developing work-related skills and increasing the level of stability in a young person’s life, while health services that focus on the social drivers of the sexual and mental health of its young people can obtain better and more enduring health outcomes.

Richard Scothorne, Director

The transition to work is a very tough one for many young people. Some have never really succeeded at anything at school and have often lacked the stable support of parents or other carers.  The most effective programmes we have worked with have provided different kinds of support – in other words, support that young people can chose from in terms of the quality of the relationship and their different needs from time to time.  These sources include trainers, mentors and personal coaches – someone who can provide the young person with a fixed point in a shifting world – and who will listen to them and stay with them through their journey.  In addition, working on shared tasks in small, well-managed groups – often in quite demanding conditions – can provide invaluable peer support, show people they are still appreciated even when they may be struggling, and help to build a young person’s confidence in dealing with others.

Natalie Dewison, Senior Consultant

Traditionally, the effectiveness of employability services has been assessed by looking at the number of people moving on to ‘positive destinations’ (education, employment, training or volunteering). For employability projects supporting young people facing multiple barriers to work, particularly those that only run over the course of a few weeks, this approach fails to capture the full impact of support provision.

We have found that often the most valuable outcomes are increasingly recognisable over time. Improvements in a young person’s confidence and outlook for example, which make them more resilient to knock backs and motivated by new long-term goals and ambitions. These things have the potential to greatly improve future job prospects. We are currently supporting three organisations delivering employability projects to evidence the sustainability of these outcomes. This means developing methods of longer term data collection that are simple, effective and enjoyable for the young people involved.

 

Max Lohnert, Assistant Consultant

Vulnerable young people often come from unstable backgrounds and face a range of intersecting barriers to entering employment. Considering this, our experience shows that there is no “quick fix” and that vulnerable young people benefit most from sustained engagement with employability programmes. For example, young people often benefit immensely from the trusted relationships with trainers and mentors and from the peer network they establish – and such relationships take time to build. However, since funding arrangements often require organisations to prioritise the number of young people being helped over the length of time they can engage with a single person, organisations have found other means to engage young people for longer periods of time: ranging from trainers or mentors staying in touch with a young person informally after the official completion of the programme, to building linkages and strong referral networks with other organisations along the employability pipeline.

Clare Hammond, Associate Director

The job market is becoming more complex and more competitive. Teaching young people to navigate this complexity is so important. This includes helping them look beyond the well-known and more obvious opportunities. How many jobs did you know existed when you were in high school? Doctor, teacher, engineer, nurse and banker? Probably. How about business analyst, GP practice managers, food safety consultant, project manager? Probably not.

The role that employers can play in helping young people understand the lay of the land is well evidenced. However, engagement between schools and employers often focuses around larger private sector employers. These large businesses make up a small part of employment in the UK. Most people will work for small or medium sized private firms, or the public sector. Where schools partner with small and medium sized businesses and the public sector young people are able to have a fuller understanding of the labour market.

Eleanor Sanders White, Consultant

There are many assumptions out there about young people which can interfere with our ability to reach and support them. Sometimes, the only thing in common in a group of young people is their age – we need to be careful about treating them as a homogenous group. A lack of confidence or fear of failure can often be misinterpreted as apathy. While some young people want to engage online, others need to develop a trusting relationship to engage. Many young people are technologically savvy, but some won’t have the digital skills required to engage online. While some young people will need a tailored and very supportive experience, others will interpret this as patronising. The way through this? Some of the most successful examples we have seen go straight to the source and ask the young people, others have shown a huge flexibility in how they engage with the young person to tailor for the individual walking through the door.

 

For more information on our work with young people get in touch with Clare Hammond, one of our Associate Directors [email protected] or 0131 226 4949

How does a health and social care organisation become a big player in employment? The power of stepping back from a diagnosis.

How does a health and social care organisation become a big player in employment? The power of stepping back from a diagnosis.

Clare Hammond looks at why health, social care and employment are so important to each other

18 months ago, we were working with a Scottish Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and were struck by what we found. This HSCP was spending the equivalent of 50% of the value of the new national programme for those further from work, on helping their service users into employment. How does a HSCP end up being such a big player in employment?

More and more, services are stepping back from a diagnosis, or presenting issue, and looking at the whole person. A perfect illustration of buzz words such as ‘person centred’ and ‘holistic’. In health and social care, this is driven by a growing understanding that medical conditions are often driven by, and in turn drive, other issues such as trauma, poverty, social inclusion, and worklessness.

These intersections are what has driven the growth in health and social care integration, information and support services, complementary therapies, and social prescribing, and where prevention has found a practical expression.

Subsequently, services have needed to work across their typical service boundaries. These partnerships find two main forms (1) strategic and structural partnerships, and (2) practical and operational partnerships at the coal face.

Much of the focus on health and social care integration in both England and Scotland has focused on structural integration. However, we have found numerous examples of long standing, pragmatic and effective operational partnerships as front-line staff recognise the need to engage with other services to get the best outcome for their clients.

So, while strategic partnerships often feel that they a have responsibility to support partnership working across every level, there is a lot that strategic partners can learn from front line delivery staff for whom partnership working has long been part of their everyday approach to support provision.

Coming back to the HSCP mentioned at the beginning of this blog, how did they end up here? This HSCP had 16 employability related projects covering a variety of health and social care services. Despite operating independently over a period of more than 5 years, front-line staff working across all projects had identified the important role that employment (or the prospect of employment) could play in managing an individual’s health and wellbeing and maintaining their progression. As such, working towards employment became part of a recovery journey in mental health, addictions and criminal justice, and a way of improving health and care outcomes for those with disabilities, or young people raised in care.

From an employability perspective, these service users were effectively pre-stage 1 in the Strategic Skills Pipeline. By encouraging participants to lift their aspirations of future employment and begin setting goals. these HSCP services effectively prepare them for mainstream employment services.

This approach is echoed by new national employability programmes (Work and Health Programme and Fair Start Scotland) being developed across the UK which have a particular focus on supporting those with multiple barriers to employment. The only way these programmes are going to be successful is if they link in with projects like those being delivered through the HSCP and encourage people to think about employment as part of their recovery journey. Doing so should improve the level of engagement when they enter the first stage of the employability pipeline and the outcomes achieved.

To reach this point, health and social care services can learn from this HSCP, step back from the diagnosis and consider how they can help service users make the next steps on their longer term pathway to employment.

Clare Hammond is an Associate Director at Rocket Science specialising in health and social care including evaluation, strategy and organisational development, cost modelling and cost benefit analysis. You can check out her profile here.

This blog is part of a wider series on Health and Social Care Integration. Other blogs in this series can be found here

Is there a future for employment and skills in local government?

Is there a future for employment and skills in local government?

We think councils need to invest in a local employment and skills strategy now more than ever, Caroline Masundire reflects on our work with councils and what we have learnt.

 

Many employment and skills teams in local government are facing an uncertain future.  In part this is due to uncertainty on what will replace ESF, how skills devolution will play out in local areas and the extent to which council-led interventions will be needed.  Couple this uncertainty with councils needing to focus their resources on statutory services, questions are being raised about what their employment and skills role should be.

Employment and skills is often only viewed as an outcome from planning gain.  Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levies are used as match for ESF and other funding to deliver employment and skills programmes linked to physical development. However, we think that some councils are missing out on opportunities by viewing employment and skills through this myopic lens. It is not as simple as putting Person A into Job X.

Our view is that councils should be thinking about how employment and skills can play a greater part in the transformation of services, leading to better and more sustainable outcomes for people and communities.

The trouble is that looking at employment and skills through a bigger, transformation lens requires leadership and cross service commitment to grasp the opportunity.  It also requires getting everyone onto a similar level of understanding of how the system works now and then how it all needs to work together in the future.  It is complicated stuff and not for the faint-hearted.

We have been working with several authorities to help them determine what their employment and skills role should be and then putting in place the systems and structures to help them get there.

Here are some of the lessons we have learnt.

Keeping the faith

Our work always comes at a time when councils are also undergoing organisational and structural change including making redundancies and cuts in services.  Mapping services to understand duplication and gaps in provision as well as how much the council is investing in activities is very hard in these conditions and takes much longer than  expected. Patience is certainly a virtue.

Some clients are also facing uncertainty in their jobs and may not be there in the future to take this work forward. So, in addition to providing the evidence, business case and framework for action, we also help clients navigate this environment by keeping them focused on the outcomes as well as provide a sympathetic ear.   

Our job is as much about helping clients keep the faith as it is about producing the outputs.

Don’t chase the funding

Let’s face it the commissioning and funding of employment and skills (in England and particularly in London) is bonkers.  We have created what we call ‘the maps of contracting mess’ to illustrate the complexity and dysfunction of a skills and employment system comprising different funders and stakeholder interests.

A system which encourages providers to compete for the same clients, displaces existing and others provision and by funding one outcome, discourages the collaboration and coordination it was trying to achieve in the first place.

Many clients are wrestling with this duplication and spend most of their limited time and resources trying to understand what’s going on and coordinate provision.

This leaves little or no time for teams to think, plan and work strategically. Inevitably conversations always end up focusing on trying to fit programmes into funding rather than finding funding to fit the need.

Enabling clients to be brave and to be clear about what they want to achieve first and then look at how to fund it is a big challenge, but important to get right. We tell clients to think outcomes first and funding second.

A compelling and evidenced strategy for action, with clear outcomes will more likely get funding, and probably from the least expected sources.

Embedding a ‘Think Work’ mindset

Councils are focusing on strategies to manage and reduce demand on their services, but often give little thought about how employment and skills can make a difference.  Health and social care is a prime example of how employment and skills can help by coordinating a local workforce development offer to address skills and staff shortages and reduce costs of care.

But councils also need to think about how they work with residents to help them become more resilient. For services where employment is likely to be outcome, such as those working with families, children and young people they should be helping people prepare for the world of work much earlier on.

We think this should focus on building residents’ financial, mental and digital resilience, helping to build greater self-reliance as well as the basic skills needed to cope in an uncertain and changing labour market.

Developing a business case to think strategically about the contribution of employment and skills to achieving better outcomes is key to embedding a ‘Think Work’ mindset and fundamental to transforming services.

Focusing on what you can control and influence

Finally, it is important to help clients whittle down what is often a long wish-list into three or four actions where they have the most control and influence – and therefore can make the greatest difference.  Some councils are bolder than others and want greater change, others have more modest ambitions. Getting under the skin of the politics, landscape and ambition of the council is an important first step.

There are things beyond a council’s, a devolved partnership or even a city mayor’s capacity to change, so these need to be parked and clients helped to move on to focus on what is possible.

Concentrating on the assets and characteristics of their area and creating a compelling vision that members, staff, stakeholders and the community can get behind, is key to securing buy-in. It also helps build a clear narrative for action.

The ambitions for employment and skills from area to area rarely differ, but the roadmap for getting there is always unique to the place. 

So our final lesson is that there is not a pre-designed template for a plan, neither will cutting and pasting an approach from somewhere else work. It has to be built through collaboration and from a common starting point.

Caroline

If you would like more information on our work in this area get in touch by email to [email protected] or call 020 7253 6289.

 

Caroline is Associate Director based in our London office you can view her profile here.

 

What could Sadiq Khan do for BIDs in London?

What could Sadiq Khan do for BIDs in London?

Why we need to carry on supporting the BID movement in London. John Griffiths offers his thoughts for the Mayor for London.

One of Boris Johnson’s final acts as Mayor of London was to announce he had achieved his 2012 manifesto target of seeing 50 Business Improvement Districts set up in the capital. London’s reaching 50 BIDs (almost a quarter of the total in the UK) does not mean we are at saturation point. Several of the 14 boroughs which have not embraced BIDs are considering their feasibility, including Wandsworth, Tower Hamlets and Haringey.  However, the 50 BID milestone is an opportune moment to reflect on what BIDs have achieved, their strengths and weaknesses and how the new Mayor of London may decide to enable them to work more collaboratively with other partners who are interested in the place-shaping of London’s many different communities.

The first BID in London, Kingston First, was set up in 2005 and in 2015 entered its third 5-year term. Term renewal is regarded as one of the most telling indicators of a BID’s success.  All BIDs in the capital which have held renewal ballots since 2012 have seen an increase in turnout and approval rates.  And yet, whilst London’s BIDs seem here to stay, they still face considerable challenges:

  • Cuts in local government funding mean that BIDs have an opportunity to expand their responsibilities and importance, but this also threatens their raison d’etre as business-led membership organisations which, first and foremost, exist to add value to statutory provision not substitute for it;
  • Opportunities presented by the government’s commitment to devolution and localism also bring risks and uncertainties for BIDs in terms of their financial sustainability, given changes to local government finance, rate revaluation and new taxation mechanisms;
  • Expectations of BIDs to play a role as convenors and enablers of local/neighbourhood plans bring added responsibility and requirements in terms of professional skills, and expectations of greater accountability and transparency to stakeholders other than just a BID’s levy payers.

BIDs appeal to the majority of London’s councils for different reasons. Inevitably, as town halls face further funding cuts, BIDs appear attractive as a money-saving device. Within that framework, some London boroughs adopt a hands-off approach, reaching a baseline-agreement for local services, but largely recognising BIDs’ autonomy as private-sector organisations. In contrast to this laissez-faire approach, others have sought collaboration in the form of public-private partnerships. Councils that have redefined themselves as enablers, see BIDs as integral to establishing new forms of service delivery and stimulating economic growth. Boroughs which have taken this approach include the City of Westminster, now home to eight BIDs; Lambeth (6); Southwark and Camden (4 each).

Westminster, for example, recently instigated regular meetings between the Leader of the Council, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business and Economic Development and the borough’s BID chief executives.  This is a clear signal to the BIDs that they are regarded as key to the economic development of the borough.

The meetings enable the BIDs to report back on council services in their areas, but also to identify opportunities for contracting out services, including to local BID partnerships.

The council has also encouraged BIDs (eg Victoria and the New West End Company) to support the work of local Neighbourhood Forums; as business led forums they can then access Community Infrastructure Levy funding to support the development of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Lambeth’s transformation into a ‘Cooperative Council’ includes identifying opportunities to break up bigger contracts as they come up for renewal; smaller contracts, delivered more locally, have provided opportunities for BIDs (eg Vauxhall BID taking over management of Vauxhall Park under a council contract). The Council’s bi-monthly BID forum also lets BIDs propose and test new ideas, including South Bank BID’s proposal for a shared apprenticeship scheme.

Systems for engagement need to be robust. There will be occasions when the BID’s and the local authority’s interests conflict. Angel BID, for example, which has a close working relationship with LB Islington, found itself leading a vociferous and ultimately successful community campaign against the council’s proposed parking policy. In Croydon, relations with the BID became temporarily strained last year when the Council’s Labour administration took umbrage at the blue uniforms, along with bowler hats, of the BID’s new Street Ambassadors. They now wear an eye-catching pink.

A recent report[1] commissioned by the GLA and the London Enterprise Panel recommended that the new Mayor should focus less on the setting up of yet more BIDs, but rather find ways to support existing BIDs as agents of local partnership. The growth in number and diversity of BIDs in the capital calls for a greater awareness of the sector’s segmentation, enabling groups of BIDs to collaborate on different issues, as well with the voluntary sub-regional arrangements of boroughs which are linked to London’s devolution proposals. In the meantime, this is happening as much by chance as by design, with an ad hoc mix of BID-financed infrastructure and area-based partnerships in place (eg the Cross River Partnership), providing support for both inter-BID collaboration, as well as cross-borough public-private initiatives.

As, in the words of one BID Chief Executive, the “new kids on the municipal block”, BIDs are quickly having to find their feet in a fast-changing environment for both local government and wider governance arrangements in London.  It will be those BIDs with an enterprising mind set, political nous, an open and supportive relationship with their local community and a propensity to collaborate which succeed.  As new BIDs continue to emerge whilst others grow in maturity, the London BID community will become increasingly diverse.  This will require a variety of different support arrangements and partnerships – both area and issue based – in order to harness BID energies and resources, enabling BIDs to maximise their contribution to tackling London’s policy priorities which is in the interests of both their members and the wider community.

John Griffiths is a Director of Rocket Science, co-authors with Future of London of The Evolution of London’s Business Improvement Districts

[1] The Evolution of London’s Business Improvement Districts March 2016

 

 

John is Managing Director at Rocket Science based in our London office.  You can check out his profile here.

School Ties

School Ties

Small businesses can play a really important role in helping young people transition from education into work. Richard Scothorne reflects on his work for the Federation of Small Business in Scotland, School Ties.

Small businesses are vital partners for schools in helping young people make a successful transition to work.  This is the key conclusion of our new report for the FSB in Scotland, ‘School Ties’, which presents our research into the scale and significance of small business engagement with schools and how to transform its reach and impact.  Although our work was built on interviews across Scotland the conclusions reflect other research across the UK.  Our main findings are:

  • Business engagement with schools – done well – can transform young people’s futures and earnings.  For example, every meaningful engagement with an employer can increase a young person’s subsequent earnings by 4.5% and those who have encountered 4 or more employers while at school are up to 20% less likely to become NEETs
  • It is really important to help small businesses (employing fewer than 50 people) engage with schools.  Most businesses are small businesses (84%-87% in urban Scotland and 93-96% in rural Scotland)) and provide a high proportion of jobs (24% – 36% in urban areas in Scotland – and 60-72% in rural Scotland).  Without engagement with small businesses pupils will be missing out on understanding a key part of the local economy and a significant source of great opportunities.
  • Most small businesses are not involved with schools – mainly because both schools and small businesses find engagement difficult.  It can take schools as much time and effort to set up a relationship with a small employer who may have an occasional opportunity as with a large employer who may have a number of regular opportunities.  It requires sustained effort and energy, with a key role for Head Teachers in creating a profile for their school in local small business networks and organisations.
  • But small businesses are willing partners – engagement needs to be made easy, and many just need to be asked.  Those that are involved cite altruistic reasons for their involvement – small businesses see themselves as part of the local community with a role to play in supporting a range of community issues of which young people’s employability is one.  However, most say that they gain business benefit from engagement – many citing reputational benefits as well as the value of the contribution made by pupils.

 

  • Schools in the most deprived areas have hinterlands with relatively low levels of small business activity.  They therefore need to spread their net wider to get the range of opportunities they need – and this suggests a collaborative approach with neighbouring schools.
  • In rural areas – where most business are small businesses – it is particularly important for schools to develop a wide range of small business relationships rather than focus on a-typical larger businesses.
  • Small businesses which are involved with schools contribute in a wide range of ways.  It is important that businesses are helped to understand this range of opportunities and match their ability to contribute to the needs of schools and pupils.
  • Teachers can benefit from engagement with pupils as much as pupils – bringing back new insights into how they can use to make their lessons more relevant to the world of work and enhancing their ability to provide useful insights into current and emerging opportunities in local businesses.
  • …and parents – as business owners, employers, and employees – can provide an important way of making connections between schools and businesses.

On the basis of these findings we have developed a number of recommendations about how to transform the scale and reach of school engagement with small businesses and so enhance the opportunities for pupils to match their aptitudes, aspirations and interests with the world of work.  This report is complemented by a recent assignment to review the work experience approach of a large local authority and make recommendations about how this can be placed in a much wider approach to employer engagement.

Download the full report here

…and our previous report on realising the employment potential of micro-businesses here

By Richard Scothorne

 

Richard is a Founder and Director at Rocket Science based in our Edinburgh office.  You can check out his profile here.