New Charter launch £9.7m project to improve Greater Manchester health and unemployment

A project has been launched by six of the region’s largest housing providers to improve health and unemployment within Greater Manchester.

Tameside-based social landlord New Charter Group are leading the delivery of Manchester Athena’s Motiv8 programme, which will receive £9.7 million over the next three years to tackle poverty and help the most vulnerable back into employment and training.

They will work with partners ForViva, Stockport Homes, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, City West Housing Trust, and Bolton at Home to improve the lives of around 4,000 people aged 25 and over who may be homeless, long-term unemployed, living with disabilities and health conditions, or drug and alcohol dependent.

New Charter held their own official launch of the project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund’s Building Better Opportunities programme, at their Cavendish Street building in Ashton on Tuesday morning.

Chief executive Ian Munro, who also chairs Manchester Athena, explained the aims behind the programme – which is seen as an example of how similar schemes could be run as a result of new devolution powers.

He told the Reporter: “The concept is about getting people into work and closer to the world of work. Many people have lots of barriers getting into work and we think it’s important for us as housing associations to work together to help them into employment.

“It’s good for them, it’s good for their families and it’s good for us as landlords because if people are economically active they will pay their rent so there’s a virtuous circle if you like in terms of the collaboration we’re trying to put in place.”

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Ready to go: New Charter staff at the launch reading through the overview of the Motiv8 programme

Ian believes it’s important to address the issues of poverty and unemployment, which are particularly prevalent in Greater Manchester, and for New Charter to be the programme’s leading organisation.

“Greater Manchester has some significant pockets of depravation, and different places have different problems,” he said.

“But there is a huge problem around helping people into employment, getting them economically active and less benefit dependent.

“We stepped up to the plate if you like. We have done a lot of this sort of work in Tameside within the areas we operate and working with my colleague chief executives across Greater Manchester we felt there was a lot of potential in doing more of this work.

“We said we’d take the lead because we feel it is important to us.”

The launch signalled the beginning of the funding contract and a celebration of the start of the project, as similar events took place at the four other housing providers involved.

And Tony Powell, New Charter Group’s deputy chief executive, said the project has been in the pipeline for around 18 months.

He said: “We were successful in the bidding process last year and selected down so it’s been a long piece of work but we have a great team of people across Greater Manchester who have got us to where we are today to start delivering it.

“We’re working with people who are the furthest away from employment and try to create a pathway for them so there’s success for them at the end of the day. It’s a big piece of work but it’s really important and it’s going to make one big difference.”

WATCH: Tony Powell addresses New Charter staff at the launch

Anyone aged 25 or over living in Greater Manchester, who has the right to remain in the UK and is not involved in any other training or employment, can access the service.

Tony also explained how people can receive support from the programme and what the partnership between the housing providers allows New Charter to achieve through Motiv8.

He added: “There’s going to be a lot of information coming out over the next month in terms of referral mechanisms and the agencies they can talk to but people can contact New Charter if they are in Tameside and we can talk to you in more detail.

“The partners we’ve got mean all 10 local authorities are covered within our consortium. They’ve got expertise and know organisations locally who can work with people to give them greater opportunities.

“In terms of housing, we’ve got a great rapport with people – we know how to communicate with people and make things happen, which is what this project is all about.”

The project is one of 38 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas in the country to be awarded Building Better Opportunities funding.

To find out more information about the Motiv8 programme, New Charter will be joined by Key 103 in Ashton’s Asda store on November 7 and in Oldham town centre on November 15 – from 10am until 4pm on both days – and you can visit http://www.motiv8mcr.org/.

Main picture: (left to right)  Chief executive Ian Munro, Manchester Athena project co-ordinator Karyn Kay, programme manager Hazel Clarke, compliance officer Natalie Watkin, administrator Ann Louise Dougherty, head of commercial and partnership services Kerrie Pryde, and deputy chief executive Tony Powell of New Charter Group