January at the Wise Group – starting 2024 as we mean to continue!

At last, we are at the end of January! While it has definitely been a long month with lots of challenges along the way, it has also been a very productive and busy month here at the Wise Group! Continue reading to hear all about what we have been up to! 

With lots of our colleagues taking very well deserved breaks at the start of the month, the last few weeks of January have been extremely busy, with lots of balls moving in several different courts. 

Our newest insight report, A way to work: Relational Mentoring and the future of employability, was launched this week and some of our colleagues had the opportunity to host an event at Parliament! Some of our mentors talked about their own experiences of mentoring individuals, identifying key areas where people need support with the most. Lots of our mentors have lived experiences of the same issues they are helping others overcome and it was a real eye opener just to see how big of an impact having the support of mentoring and what the familiarity of knowing you are not alone can do! 

Our HEAT colleagues have been working closely with our partners to provide energy advice and support in the community. Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) hosted an amazing event, Democracy Matters for Disabled People, and one of our HEAT colleagues was lucky enough to be able to attend! GDA reached out to HEAT to thank them for their support this month, saying:

Just wanted to pass on a thanks to your colleagues for coming along to our stallholder event on Friday. They were really dedicated to our members and they stayed well past the time I was saying we’d finish, helping anyone who came to their stall. We cannot stress enough how meaningful the top ups were to the members to relieve some of that anxiety around their energy bills. A massive thank you to the Wise Group for being so generous and looking forward to the next event we can invite you back to!” 

We have also had some great news from one of our mentors working with customers in the New Gorbals Housing Association. 10 customers have had support clearing all of their energy debt, totalling more than £12,000 of debt cleared! This will be life changing for these individuals and hopefully alleviate some stress for them! Well done HEAT! 

Even within our individual areas of work, collaboration is at the heart of everything we do at the Wise Group, with our HEAT, HES, Justice and Relational Mentoring teams often working hand in hand to support individuals in the community. This was the case for one customer, who was facing challenges of disability, bereavement, and mental health struggles. One of our HEAT mentors was able to secure funding through EON to address the heating costs and further to this was able to collaborate with Home Energy Scotland for the potential of a new or replacement heating system. Further to this, the mentor partnered with SGRM to support with some further hand holding support.

Our Relational Mentoring teams, in both England and Scotland, have also had a very busy month! One of our colleagues who works out in the community as a partnership executive noted that despite January usually being a pretty blue time of year they have never been so busy! Heather said: “Historically in the private sector January has always been a mmmeh month. NOT in the third sector, NOT in the Wise Group. Best January ever, more Events and Meetings with Partners than ever! Loving it! Supporting people where and when they really need it!” In Sunderland, the team have also had 40 referrals into the service! January is historically a very quiet month for referrals to a voluntary service like ours, but it just goes to show how much the service is needed. Well done team!

HES, Home Energy Scotland have also been smashing it, providing energy advice that is changing lives! The team facilitated 27 events in January! The events were for a range of organisations such as NHS GGC, NHS Forth Valley, South Lanarkshire College, St Andrew’s Hospice – and we even supported at MP events! They have already got 15 events lined up for February too!

January was also a really busy month for the Engaging People on Probation (EPOP) team. Two different events, in particular, highlighted our commitment to transforming lives but also the power of collaboration. A total of 126 probation practitioners heard from four of our Experiential Advisors (EAs) when they joined a Probation Service Development Day to share their personal narratives regarding risk processes and involvement in their own probation journeys. Their stories and insights provided a unique perspective on how probation services can positively impact individuals’ lives when approached as a partnership. Another highlight of the month was a collaborative session with a new generation of Peer Mentor graduates and probation staff at the Derby Probation Office. After an early 6 am start, the team shared their personal stories, insights into life after probation, and the ethos of The Wise Group. Their dedication and willingness to open up about their experiences provided invaluable lessons and inspiration. It was a great day that showcased the power of personal testimony in fostering understanding and growth within the probation community. Well done to the team for the

  ir hard work and impactful contributions and here’s to continuing our journey of learning, growth, and positive change in the months to come. 

As you can see, January has been a productive month for us here at the Wise Group and we cant wait to see what the next month will bring! We will report back next month, see you in a few weeks!