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18 March 2021


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
  • Delivery driving: CPC Driving training certificate
  • Start a career in the care industry: Care certificate
  • Become a security guard: SIA badge and licence
  • Covid-19 Essentials: Infection Prevention & PPE
  • Food Safety & Hygiene Level 2 for Catering
  • Manual Handling
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Housing Management
  • Cyber Security
  • PA & Secretarial 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

EMEKAY-2.jpgCroydon-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:

  • April 26-30
  • June 14-18
  • August 9-13
  • ​August 23-27

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.

If you’re not eligible for furlough

The furlough scheme has been extended the 30th September. If you're not eligible for furlough, you may be entitled to some assistance with Universal Credit, and there are hospitality grants available so you could be entitled to more.

The government has increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit by £20 per week and has extended this to 30th 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 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

  • fourth Self-Employment Income Support Grant is available if you're self employed and your business has been affected by the pandemic. In addition, a fifth and final grant will also be available covering May to September. 
  • Did you know about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme? It helps small and medium-sized businesses access loans and other kinds of funding. It’s open until 31 March 2021. 
  • Did you know about the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)? This enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak and is open until 31 March 2021.
There's more information here.

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

Council Tax

Lots of local authorities are offering an option to extend your payments from 10 to 12 months. 
Have you thought about whether you’re eligible for a Council Tax reduction?


Did you know you can request a further three month mortgage repayment holiday from your lender? Applications need to be made by 31 March 2021. Find out more about payment holidays.

Utility Bills

Your utility provider may be able to help you with your bills if you’re out of work or if you’ve suffered a loss of income. It’s worth getting in contact with them to discuss this. You’ll also find more information here.

If you’ve a prepayment meter, Ofgem has introduced new rules to help vulnerable customers struggling to pay their winter bills. Your supplier is required to offer emergency credit to you’re unable to top up your meter. Speak to them for more information. 

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 www.stepchange.org/start.aspx , 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 April. 

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. ​

Win a £50 shopping voucher

Complete our survey to help us shape our support for residents now and in the future. We’ll enter you into a prize draw to win a £50 voucher*: https://bit.ly/3cdWE8V

*Survey closes at midnight on 5, April 2021. The prize draw is open to Optivo residents only. The winner of the prize draw will be notified by 19, April 2021. You may not be eligible to win if there are outstanding issues with your tenancy.

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