About us

Changing lives through learning

About Back on Track

Back on Track was founded in 1977. We have a learning centre in central Manchester, where we work with adults who are going through a process of recovery or rehabilitation. We support 1000+ people every year who have been through problems with alcohol or drugs, offending, homelessness and mental health. Our projects enable people to build the skills they need to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. 

Starter courses
These are six week courses that cover a whole range of subjects: art, photography, drama, music, basic cooking and more. In the last 12 month period we ran 42 short courses, with over 500 people taking part.

Training programmes
We run training courses in subjects including catering and hospitality, Health and Social Care and Business Administration. They run for two days a week for six weeks, normally on Thursday and Friday. They all include a qualification – Back on Track is an approved provider of Open Awards. They also build in a short workplace visit with a relevant organisation. The aim is to get people thinking about a career in a particular field and giving them a broad introduction to the range of jobs in that sector – including voluntary work.

Skills for work
Our skills for work sessions,see people get an easy-access work experience taster in one of our groups – catering, painting and decorating and admin. The painting and decorating group take on projects at charities and community projects across Manchester.

Moving on group
Our weekly Moving on Group happens on Friday afternoons. It includes presentations from guest speakers, job searches, CV writing and sessions on subjects like volunteering and budgeting skills. Regular contributors included Business in the Community and staff from Barclays and KPMG conducting interview skills sessions.

Supporting people with multiple and complex needs
Back on Track is a partner in Inspiring Change Manchester, a pioneering eight year programme funded by Big Lottery Fund and led by Shelter. Manchester has been identified as a having a high prevalence of people with severe and multiple disadvantage. The programme has a high level of user involvement, with a core group of service users contributing to strategy.

Supporting people with convictions
We are part of the Achieve North West Connect programme, ultimately funded by the European Social Fund. We support offenders through mentoring, volunteering and training. The impact of our work with offenders was recognised in November 2014 when Back on Track received a national award for our work on the project.

Information, advice and guidance
We run a weekly drop in session so people can find out more about what we offer, or go straight to attending a 1:1 initial interview.  At this interview we find out about their situation, support needs, aspirations, goals and, where appropriate, refer on to specialist support. Throughout their time at Back on Track, people attend regular meetings to review their progress. Our qualified staff offer Matrix-approved 1:1 person-centred information, advice and guidance (IAG) to ensure the best possible progression outcomes.

Volunteering
Back on Track is an organisation with volunteering at its heart. More than half of our volunteers are former service users who are getting the skills they need to move on to work. In 2017 17,000 volunteer hours were worked in Back on Track, with 27 volunteers moving on to paid work. We also promote volunteering outside Back on Track, working with other organisations to create opportunities for people to contribute to the wider community.

Service user involvement
A key principle is that the people who use our services influence how they are designed and run. We have a service user feedback week four times a year, with questionnaires and focus groups. We also have service user representation during all recruitment. We celebrate success regularly with service user events three times a year, at which people speak and perform. Over the next years we are going to increase user influence in designing and running services.

“I lived most of my life isolated and full of fear. I survived two years on the streets of Manchester. I wanted to be dead every day for over a year and came too close five times. I’m only writing this message due to Back on Track who create miracles on a daily basis.”

Darren, service user


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Our service users

76% have mental health problems
49% have a criminal conviction
43% have drug/alcohol problems
29% live in a hostel or supported accommodation
4% are street homeless