Back on Track is a Manchester charity that supports disadvantaged people through education, training, work experience, volunteering – helping them move on from problems in their past towards a meaningful and fulfilled life. We work with people who are going through a process of recovery or rehabilitation, because of problems with alcohol or drugs, offending, homelessness and/or mental health.
This mural on the wall of our centre was created to raise awareness of mental health problems, and depicts one of our service users.
Our training: helping people to learn and grow
Our model is to enable people to build up confidence and skills through exposure to gradually more challenging experiences. So we run a changing programme of short courses in all kinds of subjects, from local history to arts, drama and cookery, to spark an interest in learning and get people thinking about what to do next. We also teach English and Maths courses that help people overcome barriers in everyday life as well as work – enabling people to reach their potential. Then we have our vocational courses in subjects including Catering and Hospitality and Health and Social Care. These courses are designed as the first step towards working in those sectors and include work placements and qualifications.
Helping people improve their mental health
In 2015 two thirds of our service users had mental health problems, more than ever before. Our new Heads Up course was designed for adults with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, helping people to improve their wellbeing and make positive life choices.
Working with employers
We are constantly making connections across the city to create pathways to work. Local businesses also work with our service users hands-on, by running workshops and mock interviews.
Support for young people
Our Talent Coaches support young people not in employment, education or training. We give young people 1:1 support, working on goals and job skills, and support employers to set up apprenticeships.
In late 2015 we opened a café in our training centre, which has now evolved into a full blown catering social enterprise. We can now provide practical training and experience while providing cheap and healthy food in a welcoming, social environment.
Making a difference
Back on Track is a life-changing experience. In 2016 alone we have seen people leave homelessness and a lifetime of offending behind them and move on to jobs at local employers – including names such as Manchester City FC and the Midland Hotel. The social impact of this cannot be overstated: finding a job cuts the risk of reoffending by half. Since we started our work experience project two years ago 71 people – 20% of those on the project – have already completed the long and difficult journey from homelessness, addiction or prison to paid employment. And our new catering social enterprise is a particular success story. It’s staffed by former service users who are ready to take the next step – and of the 25 who joined the team this year 84% have moved into work, volunteering or further training, including a third who have found paid work.