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How we can wise up to disconnection

How we can wise up to disconnection

Credit: Wise Group

Sean Duffy, CEO

Sean Duffy, CEO | Wise Group

4 min read Partner content

At the Wise Group, we utilise hard-hitting mentorship to help people take control of their lives. Here’s how our data-driven insights and practical solutions can reconnect individuals with employment, skills, energy, and justice for a sustainable future.

Having trouble with your connection? We’ve all been cut off mid-conversation with friends, family, and colleagues in recent times, and it can be painful to watch as the meeting makes a last-ditch attempt to re-establish connection, but finally fails. Call ended.

For many across Britain, their connection has failed. As winter draws in, millions of households are disconnecting their energy supply, unable to access support from government and suppliers. Upon liberation, ex-offenders find themselves cut loose from the basic support necessary for a successful rehabilitation. Many younger and older people regard the job market as inaccessible, a heavily fortified castle in which they neither belong nor are welcome.

At the Wise group, one of Britain’s leading social enterprises, we help people to holistically reconnect with services, support schemes and their own aspirations. Our work has led to thousands of individuals entering employment, has reduced the risk of prison-leavers we mentor from reoffending from over 30% to 8%, and has directed families to over £1.5 million in energy savings, fuel allowances and debt relief.

This is only possible through the work of our committed teams of mentors, many of whom have relatable experience of the issues they are helping to resolve. Government too plays a vital role, with schemes such as the Shared Prosperity Fund, which recently announced funding for the Borders Employment and Mentoring project (BEAM), allowing us to do what we do best at no cost to customers. Successful projects which enable sustainable behavioural change are without doubt a benefit to the public purse, but our priority has always been the encouragement of a happy and healthy life for those we help.

How is this replicated across tens of thousands cases every year if it all takes place at an individual level? Simply put, we follow an evidential approach to constantly improve our outcomes and share this experience with partner organisations across the UK. However, as we have seen an unprecedented rise in demand for our services over the course of the pandemic, we are keener than ever to share these insights with politicians, policy makers and the public. To do so, we are launching a series of reports to inform how we might better support vulnerable groups across employment, justice, skills and energy. 

The first in this series of reports – Lights Off to Lights On – focussed on our energy customers. In it, we found that households disconnecting or rationing their energy, the “involuntarily greenest” in society, were over ten times more likely to have electric heating than the national average and were two times as likely to recycle. Nevertheless, a feeling of disconnection from the net zero agenda was almost unanimous, with many regarding themselves as locked out from opportunities to make their homes more energy efficient, to own an electric vehicle or to utilise solar energy.

Reconnection is only possible at an individual, case-by-case level

Beyond statistics, we found that individuals, including young carers, the elderly, and people with disabilities, from both the most and least affluent parts of the country, described the reality of fuel poverty as “cold, damp, embarrassing and terrifying.” Following our support, over 95% felt more confident in managing their energy, with a similar number describing Wise Group mentorship as “excellent”.

If crises have a silver lining, it is their power of perspective. Perspective not only to consider what we have lost, but also what we might gain going forward. William Beveridge was one such innovator, who in 1942 identified “want, squalor, idleness, disease and ignorance” as five evils which must be tackled in the fight for a more just world. Today, the pandemic has shown that disconnection from services and from each other can take a severe financial, social, cultural, mental, and physical toll. But just as the Beveridge report was the ultrasound of the NHS, we now have the chance to harness the perspective of crisis and implement policies and practices which allow us to deal a fatal blow to the root causes of poverty.

Reconnection is only possible at an individual, case-by-case level, but if done right can lead to a chain reaction of pro-social, sustainable behavioural changes. The Wise Group’s experience, insight and evidenced solutions are at your disposal in our national recovery.

For any enquiries or support regarding the subjects of this article, please contact the Wise Group at [email protected] 

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Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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