achieving change through enterprising solutions

Here is an overview of some of the past projects Actes has worked on alongside a range of funding and delivery partners.

Free Your PotentialHeath and WellbeingHelp Through CrisisOne Planet PioneersInspire Life CoachingRefreshAgeing Better MiddlesbroughKnow Your Money MiddlesbroughMarket YourselfWork ClubsDefining FuturesTalent Match

Free Your Potential

What was Free Your Potential?

Free Your Potential was a non-accredited training course designed to help identify and overcome barriers, rebuilding confidence to make positive life changes and progress towards personal goals. Training was delivered in small groups by a qualified tutor.

Free Your Potential covered the following areas:

  • Identifying and overcoming barriers
  • Rediscovering strengths and aspirations
  • Signposting to external support
  • Advice on potential routes to training and employment
  • Goal setting.

Who did it help?

People in Middlesbrough who need to rebuild their confidence, build resilience and overcome personal and social barriers to help them move forward with their lives. The course identified and built upon individuals’ strengths and helped people to set goals and achieve them.


Health and Wellbeing

Actes engages in projects that help tackle health inequalities among communities, helping to reduce disadvantage and social isolation.

Our health initiatives improve the emotional and physical wellbeing of individuals, supporting people through crises, to build connections and be better equipped for employment, education and training.



What was Trending?

Trending was a new concept clothing bank which provided good quality free clothing to people living in Middlesbrough. Actes initially secured funding from the Talent Match Middlesbrough's Innovation Fund and Middlesbrough's Financial Inclusion Group to open Trending, which aimed to reduce the stigma attached to receiving clothing donations. More recently it secured funds from the National Lottery Community Fund. The project aimed to supply formal, casual clothing and work wear to individuals so that they could be better equipped for employment, education and training. It also provided casual clothing for those without disposable income.

Trending received the 2017 Community Health Development Award from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) for its contribution to community health and wellbeing.

Who did it help?

Trending supplied clothing to people living in Middlesbrough.

What support was available?

Trending provided good quality clothing which had been washed, ironed and made fit for purpose to those who needed it. People could access clothing without any money changing hands from the boutique inspired Trending shop which was supported by the Trending Facebook page. We hoped that this enabled people to accept free clothing donations with dignity as though they were receiving the same shopping experience that they might get from any high street or online retailer.

Trending also provided opportunities for volunteering in Middlesbrough to people who would benefit from work experience.

What was Help Through Crisis?

Help Through Crisis was a National Lottery Community Fund funded service providing support to people facing hardship and crisis, with the aim of helping them to overcome immediate difficulties, and be ready for future opportunities and challenges.

The project drew on the strengths and personal experiences of people who faced hardship and created an effective partnership of organisations working together to resolve immediate crisis and help them to build long-term resilience.

Help Through Crisis was delivered throughout Stockton on Tees by charity Actes and its partners. Stockton and District Advice and Information Service (SDAIS) provided welfare advice and support including managing finances, housing, employment, health and social care; Actes offered life-coaching to understand people's underlying issues and barriers with the goal of moving into training and employment; Bridges provided support to those affected by substance misuse; and Billingham Food Bank proved emergency food and support.

Who did it help?

Help Through Crisis helped people in Stockton on Tees who had experienced hardship and crisis, to improve their circumstances and plan for the future by accessing support that they shaped themselves.

People received support from the project if they were accessing the following agencies: Food Banks, Local Authority services including Homelessness/Social Services/Welfare Assistance, the Mental Health Crisis Team, and Bridges (Substance Misuse).  

What types of support were available?

The project provided focused advice and advocacy including holistic welfare advice by trained Citizens Advice Bureau staff, ongoing advice and advocacy by named and trained individuals, and ongoing support and help making tailored individual action plans.

What was One Planet Pioneers?

One Planet Pioneers was a project which aimed to develop the skills of young people through environmental projects. Middlesbrough based charity Actes Trust worked in partnership with Middlesbrough Environment CityTees Valley Wildlife Trust and Teesside University and a range of local organisations to deliver the five-year project which was funded through the National Lottery Community Fund's Our Bright Future programme.

The project improved the lives of young people, aged 14-21 years, by enhancing their skills set and experiences through involvement in a diverse range of environmental activities, using the One Planet Living approach. Middlesbrough Environment City and Tees Valley Wildlife Trust provided volunteering, training and apprenticeship opportunities, including nature conservation, cycling, and horticulture projects. Actes helped recruit young people to the programme and provided on-going support to help participants make the most of their time on the programme. The project provided 400 places for volunteering in Middlesbrough and 24 apprenticeships, with a total of 30,000 hours of participation. 160 people were expected to progress to further training and 30 into employment through the project.


What was Inspire Life Coaching? 

Actes delivered Inspire, a life coaching and employment support project working with long-term unemployed ex-offenders, to help them overcome barriers when trying to secure sustainable employment. It combined a proven life coaching methodology with employability and enterprise support, proactive employer engagement and work placement / volunteering opportunities. 

Practical features of Inspire included helping people to prepare CVs, complete a job application including managing what, how and when to disclose offending histories, addressing barriers and ultimately helping those with an offending history to move closer to or into work.  

The pace and level of support was tailored to meet the needs of the individual for a maximum of up to 10 weeks. Delivery was via a combination of 1-2-1 support, group workshops and training complemented by regular telephone, text and email contact to retain motivation. 

Who did the Inspire Life Coaching service help? 

Inspire worked with long-term unemployed ex-offenders of all ages. 

What support did Inspire Life Coaching provide? 

Actes’ qualified life coaches supported clients to keep focused on their goals resulting in them feeling more positive and empowered about their futures. This was combined with a more supportive advisory role which signposted the client to specialist services to overcome barriers with the aim of securing employment. 

Inspire combined a proven life coaching methodology with enterprise and employment support, proactive employer engagement and workplace / volunteering opportunities. It aimed to help clients gain long-term change rather than short-term fixes. 

What was the impact of the Inspire Life Coaching service? 

Working with 49 ex-offenders, Actes helped secure work placements for 15 learners, and supported 14 into 12 weeks sustained employment over a nine-month period.  

What was Refresh? 

in 2016 Actes secured MOJ funding to deliver Refresh in HMP Holme House. Refresh delivered life coaching and practical training support. The project comprised life coaching for job readiness, incorporating the development of employability, enterprise and leadership skills; and participation in a practical One Awards accredited Level 1 qualification in Cycle Maintenance which taught learners how to restore an unusable bike to a serviceable standard.

Who did Refresh help? 

Refresh supported adult males (18 years plus) within HMP Holme House. It was delivered by Actes in partnership with Middlesbrough Environment City with the focus on preparing people to re-enter the jobs market and help people back to work.

What support did Refresh provide? 

Actes delivered 72 life coaching sessions to some of the hardest to reach offenders and 26 offenders attended training.


What was Ageing Better Middlesbrough’s Peer Friendship project?

Ageing Better Middlesbrough is a six year, £6 million programme aimed at reducing loneliness and social isolation for people aged 50 and over in Middlesbrough. It’s made up of several different projects and organisations working together to support and empower local older people. The programme collects and shares information about exciting opportunities in Middlesbrough and different ways for people to connect to their community and enjoy everything it has to offer!

Delivered by Middlesbrough based charity Actes, Peer Mentoring was one strand of the Ageing Better Middlesbrough project. It aimed to recruit and support Peer Friendship volunteers to support people to feel less lonely and isolated, helping them to reconnect with others and activities in their local community.

Who did the Peer Mentoring project help?

The Peer Friendship community support project worked with people aged 50 and over who were lonely and isolated.  Individuals who accessed the project included those who had lost a partner and those who had become ‘cut-off’ had lost their independence due to health conditions.

What support did Peer Friendship provide?

The Peer Friendship project provided volunteering jobs in Middlesbrough and Actes was responsible for recruiting volunteers and supporting them in their remit. The volunteers committed regular time to support beneficiaries, in line with the needs of the individual. Support ranged from spending time having a cuppa and a chat to help with shopping and even enjoying days out together.

What was the impact of the Peer Friendship project?

Peer Friendship volunteers contributed in excess of 1600 hours across the 21-month lifespan of the project helping 82 people in total.

Feedback from beneficiaries was extremely positive and some of the comments included:

“I was isolated and now I feel insulated, protected, safe and valued with a sense of optimism for the future.”

“The trips out have helped me restore my confidence and lifts me out of my depression and anxiety.”

Beneficiaries also reported that Peer Friendship was a positive and satisfying project to be involved with, stating:

“We call our friends beneficiaries, but really we are beneficiaries too.”

“It’s given me a raison d’etre”, (a reason to live)

How do I get in touch with Ageing Better Middlesbrough?

Ageing Better Middlesbrough continues its work to reduce loneliness and isolation to individuals in Middlesbrough.  If you are over 50 you can contact the Ageing Better Middlesbrough programme on 01642 257030 to meet someone from the team.

What was Know Your Money Middlesbrough?

Know Your Money – Keep the Change (KYM) was a Big Lottery funded money management training project that worked with young people aged 16 – 24 in Middlesbrough to improve their financial confidence. 

When did Know Your Money operate?

The KYM project operated between May 2013 and March 2017.

Who was involved in Know Your Money?

Actes worked with a number of local organisations to successfully deliver the project with Thirteen Housing group acting as the lead partner.

What practical support did Know Your Money provide?

The KYM team worked with young people on a one-to-one basis, helping them with their debts, benefits and budgeting and equipping them with the knowledge to make the best financial choices. KYM also offered accredited training programmes focused on tenancy management and employability.

In addition, KYM members were able to access the Advantage Club where they received a whole range of incentives and opportunities including access to Wi-Fi and computer equipment, social events, access to employment support and training and support with health issues.

What was the impact of Know Your Money?

Over the lifespan of the project 3032 young people engaged with the KYM, exceeding the target of 1144.  In addition, 715 people took part in accredited financial confidence training against a target of 300.  Overall the project helped those engaged to save a huge £2,496,956.39 through reduced outgoings against targets of £630,000.00.  Actes is proud to have played a key role in this hugely successful money management project which had a significant impact on the financial wellbeing of young people in Middlesbrough.

What was Market Yourself?

Market Yourself was an employability course which aimed to equip our clients with key skills to give them the confidence to promote themselves to potential employers and create new job opportunities.

Who did Market Yourself help?

The project offered practical advice and support to people aged 25 and over who had been unemployed for a period of six months or more. The course carried an NOCN Level 1 accreditation.

What types of support were available through Market Yourself?

Market Yourself offered a wide range of practical advice to guide clients through the full job application process; from preparing a CV and covering letter to exploring new opportunities to help clients expand their work history and equipping them with skills to help them to maintain a resilient and positive approach to applying for jobs. ‚Äč

The project introduced support programmes such as Wage Incentive and Work Experience to potential employers to encourage them to create employment opportunities. Practical advice provided by the course included preparing for interview including mock interviews, confidence building, dressing appropriately, communication skills and typical interview questions.

Clients were shown how to set up an email account for job applications and how to use Universal Job Match. Practical advice was given as to how to approach online applications and create a digital identity, including how to upload a CV and covering letter to a job website. Support was provided on how to research skills and techniques, how and where to look for jobs and how to target specific sectors that may suit transferable skills, alongside valuable websites to enable clients to help themselves and how to research potential employers.

Course instructors ensured that clients understood their responsibilities in marketing themselves for employment and provided clients with a portfolio upon completion of their training, which highlighted any potential gaps that Jobcentre Plus Advisors may have wanted to review.

What was the impact of Market Yourself?

Between December 2013 and March 2018, 1351 learners completed the Market Yourself course.

What were the Work Clubs?

The Work Clubs provided information, advice and guidance to residents of Middlesbrough looking for employment to help them move closer to or into work. They were funded by Actes as part of our charitable objectives.

When did the Work Clubs operate?

Funding was initially approved by the Actes board in 2012 and ran until March 2017. In 2014/15 the Work Clubs were partly funded by Middlesbrough Community Learning from their Community Learning Fund.

Who was involved in the Work Clubs?

To deliver the Work Clubs service Actes worked in partnership with Middlesbrough Council who provide access to venues and Job Centre Plus who provide small amounts of funding for laptops and promotional materials.

What practical support did the Work Clubs provide?

The Work Clubs provided support in job journey planning and job searching techniques including CV development, interview skills and mock interviews, setting up e-mails and Universal Job Match access. Through the Work Clubs clients were also signposted to other job opportunities, such as volunteering. The Work Clubs also provided support with soft skills like social skills and self-confidence which can act as a barrier to employment and volunteering.

The work clubs operated five days a week at various venues across the town with mornings free for clients to ‘drop in’ with the afternoons for individual one-to-one appointments.

What was the impact of the Work Clubs?

Between April 2014 and February 2017 the Work Clubs were responsible for 11,709 client contacts.  In 2015-16 alone 421 individuals were given support to develop their CVs, and in its last two years 31.03% of Work Club clients received support with training, while many were given access to volunteering opportunities which provided valuable work experience. Aside from providing Information, Advice and Guidance, the Work Clubs provided a supportive and sociable environment to Middlesbrough residents, many of whom were among the furthest away from the job market.

What was Defining Futures?

Supported by a grant from the Virgin Money Foundation, Actes developed and delivered Defining Futures; a Level 2 One Award accredited employability qualification. The training course included personal skills development, including communication, teamwork and problem solving and the use of social media to build a personal brand.  It also helped people to develop an understanding of what it means to be enterprising including an exploration of self-employment as an alternative to paid employment.

Who did Defining Futures help?

Defining Futures was aimed at long term unemployed young people in Middlesbrough who would benefit from in-depth support in exploring their strengths and preparing to enter the world of work.

What types of support were available through Defining Futures?

Delivered flexibly from venues across Middlesbrough, the training course covered the following elements:

  • developing practical employability skills such as preparing and tailoring CVs, job search techniques and interview preparation;
  • enhancing personal skills such as communication, resilience, team work and problem solving;
  • the use of social media to  build and promote a personal brand; and,
  • what it means to be enterprising and an exploration of self-employment.

Clients were encouraged to provide feedback to ensure the course was tailored to their needs.

What was the impact of Defining Futures?

Between its launch in July 2017 and March 2018, outcomes for Defining Futures were as follows:

  • 95 learners completed the training course, surpassing the project target of 80;
  • 38 learners who completed the training course went on to secure employment;
  • 55 leaners who completed the training course went on to positive destinations (work or training);
  • Defining Futures received significant support from Jobcentre Plus staff, third party organisations and the wider VCSE community who ensured that the course continued to be well promoted and attended.

NB: Those in employment are contacted again after three and six months.

What was Talent Match Middlesbrough?

Talent Match Middlesbrough was a Big Lottery funded young person led project. Over five years it aimed to engage, inspire and support 500 young people aged 18-24 from the most deprived wards in Middlesbrough who had been unemployed for 12 months or more. It set out to help 400 young people with improved confidence, motivation, self-esteem and skills, and, it set out to support100 young people into employment or enterprise sustained for six months or more.

Who did Talent Match Middlesbrough support?

Talent Match Middlesbrough helpe3d 18 and 24 year-olds living in Middlesbrough who had been unemployed for 12 months or more.

When did Talent Match Middlesbrough operate?

Talent Match Middlesbrough operated between December 2013 and December 2018.

Who was involved in Talent Match Middlesbrough?

The project was based on a partnership approach between charity Actes and the Prince's Trust, with the latter acting as lead partner. Young people actively engaged in the development, design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the project.

What practical support did Talent Match Middlesbrough provide?

As part of the project, Actes employed two Youth Advocates who engaged and supported targeted young people. The advocates developed meaningful connections in communities and engage with and refer young people to personal development activities to help build confidence or overcome issues. The advocates offered one-to-one support and guidance to help the young people navigate and access the available training and employment opportunities. Talent Match Middlesbrough combined a unique mix of life coaching, employment support and volunteering opportunities.

What was the impact of Talent Match Middlesbrough?

During the lifespan of the project it supported 457 young people and helped 105 into sustained employment, 137 into training and 186 into volunteering roles.