Roots to Wellbeing (Groundwork in Greater Manchester)

What do they do?

Groundwork in Greater Manchester is a charitable trust that works to build more sustainable communities across the region. The charity delivers services and programmes to build peoples’ skills and job prospects and to help communities use spaces to improve health and wellbeing. The trust also works with businesses to ensure environmental sustainability and to rejuvenate town centres through business improvement districts.

What is the aim of the project?

Operating from Groundwork’s Wigan Office, Roots to Wellbeing is a 10 week part time programme for people who are aged 18 or over, unemployed and who want to get more out of life. The project helps participants improve their health, wellbeing, motivation, confidence and chances of finding work, volunteering or training. The project aims to inspire individuals to fulfil their potential through a team based personal development programme focusing on transferable skills.

How did they identify the need for the project?

The need for the Roots to Wellbeing project was identified as a consequence of delivering the national Princes Trust Team programme across Greater Manchester for over 23 years. The Groundwork team found themselves turning away people who wanted to sign up to the programme but were over the age of 25. They wanted to be able to support these people with a programme that offered many of the team based benefits that the Princes Trust programme offers.

How did it begin?

The Roots to Wellbeing project was developed using many of the principles, knowledge and experience gained from running the Princes Trust Team programme. The project was launched in September 2017 using funding from Wigan Council through their Adult Education non accredited learning budget.

Who are the beneficiaries?

Roots to Wellbeing work with unemployed people aged 18 and over with mental health issues, learning and physical disabilities, social isolation, drug and alcohol problems or other barriers to employment. Many participants are not in receipt of unemployment benefit, but receive other benefits such as PIP or ESA.

Referrals to the project come from a variety of routes including the Department of Work and Pensions, Wigan based support workers, practitioners, and community groups, networking, through word of mouth promotion from previous participants of the project and self-referral. 

"Before Roots to Wellbeing, I’d shut myself away for months. The programme has been brilliant. I’ve learned new things and met new people, which has helped me to cope with my depression and overcome my shyness. My fitness has really improved and I’ve even managed to lose some weight. I can feel all my old confidence coming back." Stephen – Participant

Why is it different / special?

The project offers participants a free, flexible, person-centred, team based development programme. This is done through individual learning plans and assessments, with activities designed and delivered as groups. Programme leaders are able to draw on a ‘toolbox’ of interventions such as physical activities, awareness training, linking to existing community groups and activities, mock interviews and work placements. These interventions are delivered in conjunction with local businesses, charities, community groups and national organisations.

After the programme ends, follow up activities are planned at regular intervals to ensure participants continue to do well and to provide signposting to other services that may be required.   

What challenges have they faced? How did they overcome them?

The biggest challenge has been recruiting the right staff to run the programme, people who will understand and fit into the culture of the project, the wider organisation and to act as a role model for participants. This challenge has been largely overcome by ‘growing their own’ staff internally, with some even recruited from the programme, rather than relying on conventional recruitment processes.

Gaining the trust and managing the expectations of project participants has also been an issue as some participants have been disappointed with previous projects they have engaged with. The project team manage this by developing close relationships with each participant, and building honesty and transparency into all communications so that participants have a realistic expectation of what they will achieve. 

The senior team now want to share their experience and learning of delivering this kind of prevention work in the hope they can influence commissioners within the Department of Work and Pensions, and health and social care to make funding more joined up and more accessible to VCSE led projects.

What successes / outcomes have they had?

The biggest success has been being able to adapt and apply the knowledge and learning gained from the delivery of the Princes Trust programme to be able to ‘hit the ground’ running with this project.  They have already witnessed the impact the project has had on the lives of participants, many of whom have moved from not having the ability or confidence to work to moving into volunteering positions and/or employment.

As the project is funded from a non-accredited funding stream, it is required to deliver a certain number of guided learning hours, but otherwise does not have any other outcomes imposed upon it. This means that the team are able to offer a person-centred, flexible approach and do not have to move participants through a set process to meet funding outcomes. This allows individuals to develop at their own pace, with measures of success set by Groundwork. That said, development of evaluation processes to demonstrate the project’s success are recognised as being necessary to attract future funding, and are being explored.

The Roots to Wellbeing team now plan to develop and refine the format, content, quality and purpose or the programme to make it suitable and sustainable for delivery in a number of locations outside Wigan.  

“If you’d told me 6 months ago I’d have any sort of job, I’d have laughed in your face. Now I’ve got a job, I’ve kept my home and I’ve got my life back.” Sandra - Participant

Find out more

For more information about Roots to Wellbeing, visit roots-to-wellbeing

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