Local charity sets up new virtual Support Hub

Picture: ASCEND

South Oxhey charity ASCEND, has launched an online initiative which assists Hertfordshire residents with employment and health issues. It enables people who are looking for work or feeling unsure about their future, the chance to discover new opportunities within the digital world.

The Building Better Opportunities (BBO) Strive programme is delivered in partnership with Hertfordshire Adults and Family Learning Service (HAFLS), a division of the county council. Funding is geared towards supporting English projects, that ‘tackle poverty and promote social inclusion.’ Furthermore, the scheme is subsidised by the The National Lottery Community Fund, with additional funding matched by the European Social Fund. ASCEND have been involved with the county council’s scheme for two years. Their BBO Strive Virtual Support and Healthy Hub is run currently via the video service, Zoom. It allows people to virtually receive job advice and life coaching, whilst offering online group activities. Initially, the service is accessible by appointment only.

ASCEND’s online hub delivers careers guidance to ‘help’ people ‘achieve their work goals,’ and find employment. Individuals can also seek assistance with updating or creating CV’s, as well as accessing mentoring support. Alongside their own activities there are breakout rooms on Zoom, featuring separate sessions with different organisations. ASCEND is working in conjunction with its partners - JobCentre Plus, Citizens Advice, Herts Mind Network and Home Instead. Additionally, they offer holistic and intensive personalised programmes, ’tailored’ to support those with disabilities or health issues into work. Finally, within the Health Hub individuals have the opportunity to seek advice on wellbeing issues, for example weight management and nutrition. They can view cookery demonstrations and partake in virtual craft courses.

Christine Wyard, Chief Executive Officer of ASCEND said:

"ASCEND's BBO Hub is a virtual resource for people who are unemployed, particularly in this COVID time. ASCEND staff and partners will support people who are looking for help and feeling isolated. ASCEND is a vital part of Three Rivers District and we welcome you.

We hope this new initiative will help people who are unemployed gain the confidence and skills to move into employment and or volunteering. This initiative will also enable people to gain assistance from other organisations, i.e. JobCentre Plus, and meet with other likeminded people to support each other."

The digital service permits ASCEND to interact with the wider Hertfordshire community. There are many people suffering from health and wellbeing issues, or feeling isolated due to coronavirus. Moreover, the services offered by the non-profit organisation on Zoom, gives individuals an opportunity to connect with others, and reach out if they are struggling. The charity anticipates it may need to assist more people in the months ahead who could potentially become unemployed, once Covid-19 ends.

ASCEND was founded in 1996 for local people, as a non-profit organisation to help residents from the Three Rivers District and surrounding communities. Services are accessible to everyone regardless of ‘their age, needs or beliefs,’ and many of their projects are countywide. For over 24 years, the charity has tackled the issues of unemployment, social deprivation and learning disabilities. ASCEND provides education and training opportunities, alongside ‘supporting the most vulnerable in society’ through their outreach work. Moreover, the goal is to ‘improve confidence, self-esteem and increased employability.’ The organisation wants to challenge ‘perceived barriers to education,’ by empowering ‘people with more choice and control over their lives.’ They hope through their courses individuals will find paid employment, volunteering or go on to take additional training. 

ASCEND’s Virtual BBO Hub runs every Wednesday on Zoom, from 10am to 1pm. For more information on how to take part visit: https://www.ascend.org.uk

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