How's it Going?


22 July 2021

We can help to find a new job

During the past year, we've been providing much-needed help to those whose work has been affected by the pandemic.

If you're looking for a career change, or to boost your skills, We've access to a range of free training courses, including:

  • Work in the construction industry: CSCS Site Safety certificate
  • Build yourself course for youth with CSCS and DIY workshops
  • Food Safety & Hygiene Level 2 for Catering
  • Manual Handling
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Introduction to Housing Management
  • Cyber Security
  • PA & Secretarial Training
  • 5 day hospitality training 

Our Employment Support Team can also help you look for a new job, improve your CV and help you hone your interview skills. 

In difficult times, never lose hope

Croydon-resident Emekay had been working as a Microsoft product advisor and security adviser until the pandemic hit and he was made unemployed.

After registering with our Employment Support Team in London, he was paired up with Project Officer Suleiman, who set to work on creating an action plan into a new job.

Suleiman was able to identify opportunities that would be most suitable, as well as review Emekay’s CV. He also set up a mock interview session to help ease anxieties and boost confidence.

As a result, Emekay found a job as an electric scooter engineer with Pure Electric. Suleiman was also able to offer further support through uniform and travel allowance for his new role.

Emekay said: “I’m grateful for the help Suleiman and Optivo has given me. With the help of team, I was able the build on my confidence and find another job during the lockdown. On top of that, I appreciate all the extra support given to me. They paid for my uniform and travel allowance for the first month. This is an amazing team that helped me through a challenging time.”

Interested in starting your own business?

We can also help you make money doing what you love with our free course from Increase VS

Sessions are currently held online and are guided by industry experts. 

You'll learn:

  • How to start your own business without any money,
  • how to generate sales from social media,
  • how to make a website without any technical skills
  • and much more!

Our next courses:

  • July 26-30
  • September 20-24
  • ​November 1-5

Life is precious, you’ve got to embrace it

C-Tooley-Optivo-Pic.jpgIt can take a lot of courage to start up your own business. Someone who knows this better than anyone is Caroline, who launched her own virtual assistant business last year after attending our free course with Increase VS.

Caroline admits she’d been thinking about becoming her own boss for a long time. But she didn’t take the big step until a serious car accident made her realise she’d been given a second chance.

Now, the mum from Worthing, Sussex, is busier than ever as a virtual assistant to clients across the UK – all from the comfort of her own home.

Caroline said: “Now, I work on my own terms. I’ve the freedom to work around my family, the hours that suit us. I don’t spend long days commuting to and from work. Life is precious – whether you’ve been through something like I have or not. I think the pandemic will certainly have made people think differently now. It’s made us realise there’s more to life; you only get one life, you should live it fully and embrace it while you can.”

For more information about Increase VS,​ email us. 

There are lots of other ways we can help too!

We’ve included lots of information and links on this page, which will hopefully help you make positive changes if you’re:

•    not eligible for furlough
•    on a low income and your work has been affected by self-isolation
•    self-employed
•    worried about paying your bills
•    seeking health and wellbeing support.

And there's more information on our site here: Money and benefits guidance

If you’re not eligible for furlough

The furlough scheme has been extended until 30th September. If you're not eligible for furlough, you may be entitled to some assistance under Universal Credit.
The government has increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit by £20 per week and has extended this to 30 Sep 2021. If you are receiving Working Tax Credits, you will be given the equivalent support in the form of a one-off payment of £500.
Find out more about eligibility criteria and what you could be entitled to.
If you’re on a low income and your work has been affected by self-isolation

You can apply for a £500 payment under the Test and Trace Support Scheme. 

There's more information here.

If you’re self employed

  • Claim fifth grant if you think that your business profit will be impacted by COVID-19 between 1 May 2021 and 30 September 2021 If you're eligable based on your tax returns, HMRC should contact you in mid-July 
There's more information here.

If you’re worried about paying your bills at the moment

Energy Bills

Energy suppliers are also offering help to those who may struggle to pay bills as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis – both prepay and credit meter customers. 

Energy regulator Ofgem has also introduced new rules from 15 December to help vulnerable customers who struggle to pay their energy bills this winter.  Please visit Ofgem’s website for more details

If you’re not on a prepayment meter, and you’re struggling, we may be able to help you. We’ve also some useful advice on how to save energy on our website.


Take the first step to addressing debt worries with leading debt advice charity StepChange.

The support they offer is free, impartial and confidential, and every client receives expert personalised advice to help them deal with their debts.

If you need free advice about a debt problem, want some support with tackling a persistent debt, or are worried about the impact of coronavirus on their finances:

Visit their website , or call them on 0800 138 1111 Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm.

Need health and wellbeing support?

The pandemic has had a huge impact on our mental health, and, more than ever, it's important to look after yourself. 

We've free courses and sessions to help give you a much-needed boost, including:

  • Wellbeing One-to-One - Share your wellbeing goals with a Health and Wellbeing Officer. Build a stronger, more active, more connected future. There'll be regular check-ins to support and encourage you.
  • 24-hour mental health support - Chat online anonymously to a  mental health service with 24-hour peer support moderated by trained clinicians. 
  • Free courses - learn how to manage your anxiety and cope with stress, build your self esteem, manage your children's behaviour, or encourage more positive communication in your home.
  • Healthy living - Access free exercise classes online, and learn how to improve your diet.  
See our full programme of wellbeing events and activities for May. 

Become a Wellbeing Champion

We're looking for volunteers with an interest in wellbeing to help support our residents in need. If you're interested in hearing more, email us. ​

Get in touch today

There are lots of different ways for you to contact us:

Online form

Complete the online form below:

How can we help?: 




Enter security code:
 Security code


Log in to MyAccount. You can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week on MyAccount. Once you've made a request, it will go directly to the team who can help. If you don't have an account, register here

Call us

Call us on 0800 121 6060