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by Sean Duffy, the Wise Group
15 December 2021
Associate Feature: Wising up to disconnection

Associate Feature: Wising up to disconnection

At the Wise Group, we utilise hard-hitting mentorship to help people take control of their lives. Here’s how our data-driven insights and practical solutions can reconnect individuals with employment, skills, energy, and justice for a sustainable future.

Having trouble with `your connection? We’ve all been cut off mid-conversation with friends, family, and colleagues in recent times, and it can be painful to watch as the meeting makes a last-ditch attempt to re-establish connection, but finally fails. Call ended.

For many across Scotland, their connection has failed. As winter draws in, millions of households are disconnecting their energy supply, unable to access support from government and suppliers. Upon liberation, ex-offenders find themselves cut loose from the basic support necessary for a successful rehabilitation. Many younger and older people regard the job market as inaccessible, a heavily fortified castle in which they neither belong nor are welcome.

At the Wise group, one of Scotland’s leading social enterprises, we help people to holistically reconnect with services, support schemes and their own aspirations. Our work has led to thousands of individuals entering employment, has reduced the risk of prison-leavers we mentor from reoffending from over 30% to 8%, and has directed families to over £1.5 million in energy savings, fuel allowances and debt relief.

How is this replicated across tens of thousands cases every year if it all takes place at an individual level? Simply put, we follow an evidential approach to constantly improve our outcomes and share this experience with partner organisations across Scotland. An example of this is CPO Connect, an online service which allows individuals to work on their Community Payback Order online in light of mounting pressure on individuals and the justice system during the pandemic. This project is entirely self-funded, and now being offered for use across Scotland. Overall, through our various projects we have helped 41272 individuals reach positive destinations this year, including helping 4236 into work and setting 3479 prison leavers on more positive paths.  

As we have seen an unprecedented rise in demand for our services over the course of the pandemic, we are keener than ever to share these insights with politicians, policy makers and the public. To do so, we are launching a series of reports to inform how we might better support vulnerable groups across employment, justice, skills and energy.  

The first in this series of reports – Lights Off to Lights On – focussed on our energy customers. In it, we found that households disconnecting or rationing their energy, the “involuntarily greenest” in society, were over ten times more likely to have electric heating than the national average and were two times as likely to recycle. Nevertheless, a feeling of disconnection from the net zero agenda was almost unanimous, with many regarding themselves as locked out from opportunities to make their homes more energy efficient, to own an electric vehicle or to utilise solar energy.

The parliamentary mace of the Scottish Parliament has written on it “Wisdom, Justice, Compassion and Integrity”. Just as none of these can be achieved in isolation by the Scottish Parliament, neither can they be tackled in isolation by social enterprise.

Reconnection is only possible at an individual, case-by-case level, but if done right can lead to a chain reaction of pro-social, sustainable behavioural changes. The Wise Group is here to help in our national recovery. Let’s make poverty history, together.

For any enquiries or support regarding the subjects of this article, please contact the Wise Group at buildingbridges@thewisegroup.co.uk

This article is sponsored by the Wise Group.

 

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