We recently applied for funding from the Nat West Skills and Opportunities Fund that would allow us to begin an innovative and much needed project supporting people in need in East Sussex.

I am pleased to tell you that we have been shortlisted for the funding!

If we are successful we can begin our ‘Transitions’ project.

The project is aimed at those members of the community who are in need of financial assistance through the government via Universal Credit. Universal Credit will be replacing, amongst others, Housing Benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support and Working and Child Tax Credits. People claiming these benefits are unemployed or on low income and unable to play a full role in their community due to lack of money and opportunity. As many of the people who use our charity fall into this group, our experience tells us that many people leave school with few or no qualifications or even the ability to read and write. This lack of formal education restricts the ability to understand the process for applying for benefits, navigating the questions asked and providing the necessary documentation for a claim to be considered.  Many clients suffer with debilitating anxiety issues which makes interacting with government agencies very upsetting or stressful. Due to lack of money some people do not have access to the internet and, as the process for an application for Universal Credit is web based, this makes applying very difficult.

Information widely available shows that the delays caused by the processing of claims for Universal Credit across the country has had a very detrimental effect on many applicants: – 39% of people surveyed in pilot areas had to wait more than 6 weeks for their first payment – of these, 57% said they had to borrow money to help them cope – one in four claimants have run up rent arrears, putting them at risk of eviction – 30% of those surveyed said that they had to make at least 10 calls to get through to the helpline often having to wait 30 minutes to get through. We have consulted with local charities and community groups, Job Centre staff and the Citizens Advice Bureau who all tell us that they are expecting serious problems and delays as have been seen in other areas and, due to our experience in supporting this client group, have asked us if we can help support clients who will have difficulty navigating the process. Many of our existing clients say they are frightened that they will not be able to understand the new benefits and fear that they may experience severe financial difficulties.

Transitions will support people in East Sussex in open bank accounts, access and learn how to use I.T equipment, apply for Universal Credit and other financial support, teach them how to budget their income and provide both practical support and links to appropriate other organisations to help them cope at a time of financial need.

We will use the funding  to support individuals via a personalised action plan to navigate through the process of applying for and receiving Universal Credit – Depending on individual need, give 1-2-1 support to people to gain NCFE accredited qualifications in ICT, Maths and/or English. We will deliver individual training sessions and courses that not only support people to successfully apply for Universal Credit but also give people the opportunity to learn skills that can be used in everyday life such as money management and budgeting, confidence building and time management.

This funding will enable us to accompany clients to visit banks to open accounts, to the DWP to meet with advisors or to other support agencies such as Foodbanks or CAB where appropriate to do so. Our unique links and contacts will help us to ensure their transition to Universal Credit is as seamless as possible. In building a supportive relationship with clients we will help them identify any suitable progression routes such as self-employment, employment or further financial training.

Please vote for us. Your vote would help change someone’s life.

Voting couldn’t be easier and will only take a few seconds – just 3 clicks!

1. Click this link: http://skillsandopportunitiesfund.natwest.com/vote/
2. Click on South East
3. Click on Now Charity Group Ltd – Vote 

The public vote is open until midday Friday 10th November

Thank you for your support.


Leave a Reply