Your Work Your Way (YWYW) was an innovative employment support project designed and delivered by Child Poverty Action Group from 2021 to 2023. The scheme supported 70 second earners from low-income households in receipt of universal credit or tax credits, and operated in the four pilot areas of Bury, Coventry, Luton and Taunton Deane.
The key components of the project included:
- Personalised employment support to develop skills and facilitate training and employment opportunities.
- Welfare rights advice to maximise benefits and household income.
- A personal budget of £2,000 for any costs associated with looking for work or setting up self-employment.
Ninety-seven per cent of YWYW participants were women, just over half had three or more children and all faced significant barriers to employment. The support model developed by YWYW enabled participants to overcome many barriers to work, particularly around confidence, skills and training, transport and household finances, and subsequently enabled many participants to address in-work poverty. As evidenced in the project evaluation carried out by the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University (see link below), the scheme succeeded in achieving strong employment, training, financial and wellbeing outcomes that compare favourably against those of similar interventions supporting labour market participation among vulnerable groups.
Over 54 per cent of YWYW participants moved into work or self-employment and 49 per cent achieved sustained employment for 6 months or more. The scheme focused on quality work so 76 per cent of clients were supported in accessing work-focused training that enabled them to realise their ambitions and often allowed them to secure better-paid work with long-term career prospects.
Examples of jobs secured by participants include an HGV driver, a teaching assistant, a make-up artist, a child therapist, a digital marketer, a healthcare assistant, a body piercer and a dog trainer.
Welfare rights and budgeting advice provided by YWYW helped to reduce financial distress and increase household incomes - over a quarter of clients claimed additional benefits and 57 per cent were supported to access one-off grants. Eighty per cent of participants felt more confident in their finances after receiving benefits advice.
Clients often described YWYW as being ‘lifechanging’ and were full of praise for the staff, the advice and financial support they received. Many said the scheme had given them hope and helped them to turn their lives around, with positive impacts on their mental health and family life.
‘[YWYW has] given me and my family a brighter future.’Participant in Luton