ADVERTORIAL: The Wise Group helps kickstart recovery

The Wise Group is a social enterprise which is proud to be making a difference to people’s lives. The organisation partners with many businesses, including Barclays, to link its clients to job opportunities through its employment programmes. In addition to helping people to get ready for and get into jobs, it also provides advice to people struggling to heat their homes and supports people to find their feet following time in prison.

Wise Group describes its partnership with Barclays and others as values-led and at the forefront of their ambitions to make a difference everyday – socially, culturally and financially. Describing its compassionate and customer-led approach, their commercial activity focuses on better financial performance. The organisation has an agile structure with the senior team making decisions quickly so they stay on the front foot.

Positive social impact towards new sustainable futures

Like many office-based organisations the Wise Group had to quickly switch to home working when the pandemic hit. With an eye on getting closer to the people they help, in the communities in which their customers live, the Wise Group was planning a move to ‘Remote First’ working before the pandemic struck, putting its Glasgow head office up for sale at the beginning of the year.

At the gateway to one of the most socioeconomically challenged areas in Glasgow, their building sat on the site of David Dale’s mansion and laterally was a secondary school designed by distinguished Glasgow practice Gillespie Kidd & Coia. Its heritage is important to the Wise Group. David Dale was an apprentice turned great industrialist and founder of New Lanark Mills who strove to improve lives. Their connection to David Dale’s ambitions is real, continuing to share a common purpose for positive social impact towards new sustainable futures.

Sean-Duffy, Wise Group CEO

Building bridges

The current situation has not just affected the Wise Group but also those it helps. COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities across society including the longstanding issue of digital exclusion. For example,  a number of Wise Group’s clients use pay as you go mobiles with limited access to data; some are not smart phones, and so without access to a computer in a public library they have no way of getting online. And it’s not just the issue of physical access – lack of confidence or capability to navigate digital processes can leave them cut off from essential services. Wise Group had to carefully consider how it delivered its own services to ensure they remained accessible to those who need them most. Moving to digital and remote service provision for some of their hardest to reach customers was a stretch and for others remote access has improved accessibility.

The organisation also redirected resources quickly to other work and the new civic challenges arising from COVID-19 – including the organisation’s involvement in the national COVID-19 telephone service response to loneliness.

Building back better

Covid has had a multiplier effect on poverty, clearly seen from the higher impact on areas of deprivation. However, the Wise Group believes it is creating opportunities to build back better.

The latest employment statistics highlight that numbers receiving Universal Credit have more than doubled across the UK – their quest to support sustainable futures has never been stronger. Support is being put in place via the Kickstart scheme, a £2 billion UK Government initiative providing funding for employers to create free six month work placements for young people aged 16-24 claiming Universal Credit.

The Wise Group is an intermediary organisation for Kickstart, acting as a gateway for businesses who wish to participate. They will deliver employability support to the young people and take care of the back office for participating businesses.

The response from businesses has been overwhelmingly positive with many asking if they can keep these young employees on longer. Not only is the programme creating meaningful jobs for young people, it is giving businesses affordable access to new talent at a time when they might not otherwise be in a position to take on staff.  

At the Wise Group we feel we can and should do better for our young people, while supporting the economy and helping to put the talent pipeline back on track.

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