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Team of the Month

Posted on 27 February 2018

(L-r: Chris, Jason, Martin and Mike)

Connecting Choices, Stoke-on-Trent

Started in July 2017, the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) Connecting Choices project provides holistic support for unemployed and economically inactive people in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands area using funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.

“We work with local disadvantaged people to help them into work and training and overcome personal barriers”, Progression Coach Chris Leadbeater says.

Along with fellow coaches Martin Burn, Jason Buchanan and lead Mike Smyth, the Connecting Choices team sees 30-40 people each week at our Stoke-on-Trent office based in Burslem, helping them to gain employability skills, improve their health and social inclusion and build confidence.

“We have to convince the people who are furthest away from the job market that they can achieve, overcome any personal barriers and progress in life. We do this by making them feel safe, welcomed and included- something they might not feel at other support agencies. This builds confidence, trust and keeps them coming back.”

Chris has worked for Groundwork West Midlands for six years and lives the other side of nearby Burslem Park.

“I love the freedom, trust and support this organisation gives you to make projects your own. We all see the bigger picture and what benefits the organisation as a whole. My favourite part of the job has to be our weekly Social Hub. We work with our specialist delivery partner Starfish to get everyone involved in the project together and celebrate our achievements. Because we have such a diverse client base, we get to meet a fantastic mix of people from different cultures. For example, for a birthday last week we were treated to foods from Syria and Asia!”    

  • The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people. 5 Section nine: Publicity v11.0 – 7 November 2017 Website │Twitter │Facebook │Instagram
  • The BBO project has received [insert amount of funding for your project] of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit