achieving change through enterprising solutions

What is Firm Foundations?

Firm Foundations is a five-year project funded by the Big Lottery's ‘Help Through Crisis’ Fund which helps people facing financial hardship to overcome immediate difficulties and to prepare for future opportunities and challenges. The project will provide tailored support, advice and advocacy to help people to be in a better position to improve their circumstances.

Who can it help?

Firm Foundations will help people living in Middlesbrough most at risk of crisis. Actes, with its partners Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind and the University of Teesside amongst others, will work with a network of organisations to identify those experiencing crisis.

What types of support are available?

The project will provide tailored support, advice and advocacy. Outreach workers offer support seven days a week and have the local knowledge and skills to develop a trusting relationship with individuals and families.

Working with partners, we will provide urgent support, including food, clothing and household items. Workers will provide information, advice and advocacy including access to welfare benefits advice, housing and healthcare. Person-centred support enables people to identify and prioritise the issues they face and plan for the future by drawing on their own strengths and abilities and what’s worked for them in the past.

How do I get in touch with Firm Foundations?

You can contact Firm Foundations on 01642 856030.


What is Help through Crisis

Help Through Crisis is a Big Lottery 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 draws on the strengths and personal experiences of people who have faced hardship and creates an effective partnership of organisations working together to resolve immediate crisis and help them to build long-term resilience.

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

Who can it help?

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

You can receive support from the project if you are 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 are available?

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

How do I get in touch with Help Through Crisis?

If you would like to find out how Help Through Crisis can help you, speak to your representative at a food bank you access, Stockton Borough Council, the Mental Health Crisis Team, or Bridges. If you are a representative from one of these organisations you can contact Help Through Crisis on 01642 856030.

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What is Talent Match Middlesbrough?

Talent Match Middlesbrough is a Big Lottery funded young person led project. Over five years it aims to engage, inspire and support 500 young people aged 18-24 from the most deprived wards in Middlesbrough who have been unemployed for 12 months or more. By the end of the project 400 young people will have improved confidence, motivation, self-esteem and skills, and, 100 young people will be supported into employment or enterprise sustained for six months or more.

Who can it help?

If you are aged between 18 and 24, live in Middlesbrough and have been unemployed for 12 months or more, Talent Match Middlesbrough could help you to improve your life.

What support is available?

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

As part of the project, Actes employs two Youth Advocates who engage and support targeted young people. The advocates develop meaningful connections in communities and engage with and refer young people to personal development activities to help build confidence or overcome issues. The advocates offer one-to-one support and guidance to help the young people navigate and access the available training and employment opportunities. Talent Match Middlesbrough combines a unique mix of life coaching, employment support and volunteering opportunities, and ultimately it improves lives.

How do I get in touch with Talent Match Middlesbrough?

You can contact the Talent Match Middlesbrough Youth Advocates on 01642 856030.


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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, to address barriers and ultimately to help 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 one 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.