Employability and the Outcomes Stars

According to the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the latest official labour market data shows that “in September to November of 2020 unemployment hit 5 per cent, with redundancies at a record high of 395,000”. While the government’s Job Retention Scheme has no doubt helped many businesses and other organisations that may otherwise have made even more jobs redundant, there is significant uncertainty over what the future may hold.

As creators of the Outcomes Star, Triangle works with many of the organisations that provide front-line employability services, particularly those whose services focus on more vulnerable individuals and groups. People who are unemployed and struggling with issues such as mental illness, addiction or homelessness face significant challenges with finding employment at the best of times; now their prospects of finding meaningful work may seem more remote. Others may have recently found themselves facing family difficulties, trauma or other complex issues as a result of the pandemic that create barriers to finding employment.

It is widely reported that already disadvantaged groups have generally fared worse than others over the last year, exacerbating already existing inequalities. For example, ERSA reports that “disabled jobseekers are now more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people” and that “the UK jobless rate for young black people has also risen by more than a third, to 35 per cent” over the past year.

In 2021 there is a significant need for traditional forms of employment support to help those people who have recently become unemployed or who face the risk of redundancy. However, we must also ensure that the longer term unemployed are not overlooked in the process. There is a need for holistic, person-centred services that engage with the range of complex, and often related, issues that are the underlying reason why an individual may be unemployed. These innovative programmes offer bespoke one-to-one help for people with complex needs, focusing on helping individuals to overcome the specific challenges they face. This is where the popular Outcomes Star can be most useful.

Triangle has developed two versions of the Outcomes Star for providers of employability services: the Work Star and the Pathway Star.

Employment support services have been using the Work Star for many years to support people to return to work or to find a job for the first time. The original Work Star was developed with service providers and commissioners from Camden, Islington and Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council. Now in its 3rd edition, the Work Star covers the traditional areas of employment support – skills and experience, aspiration and motivation, job search skills and the like, but also has two areas for drilling down into the person’s context – their health and well-being and the level of stability they have in their life. The current version was published in 2017 with input from the Department of Work and Pensions, Prospects, Hounslow Council and The LightBulb.

Launched in late 2019, the Pathway Star was developed by Triangle with service providers and commissioners from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as part of its Households Into Work (HIW) programme; a unique and innovative programme of support for people who, because of their circumstances, have difficulty finding and sustaining employment.

The Pathway Star is designed for use with people who need considerable support if they are to move towards work. It is an outcomes tool that helps guide keywork and conversations, with the focus on helping people move towards work rather than necessarily finding a job. It’s structured around the individual and the barriers they face to employment – things like stability at home, household finances, family and relationships and emotional well-being.

For service users, working with either the Work Star or the Pathway Star, seeing their situation and their progress in a simple visual form can be powerful. “I got a surprise regarding my progress over the last few months,” said one person on the HIW pilot. “I’m pleased I’ve got some change in my life where I wanted help.”

“The Work Star is ideal for mainstream services or for people who need help with navigating job search or brushing up on skills. But if you’re a service working with people who are far from being job-ready and you’re offering in-depth, holistic support, take a look at the Pathway Star. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s a really persuasive tool in helping people to change.”
Juliet Kemp
Implementation Lead

For managers and commissioners of employability services, there are additional benefits in the form of the management information that these tools provide. Using the Outcomes Star can provide organisations with a unique and valuable data set around meaningful outcomes for service users and the progress they have made. Analysing and evaluating the holistic dataset collected by the Outcomes Star can be useful in a number of ways:

  • Demonstrating and evidencing the impact of services to a range of stakeholders
  • Learning about what is working well and what can be improved for the future
  • Providing motivation for service users and for staff by highlighting the change that has been achieved

Ultimately, though, the most significant benefit of implementing the Outcomes Star may be the change that this encourages towards more of an enabling approach to service delivery. Employability services that focus on a strengths-based, holistic and person-centred way of working enable individual service users to focus on the outcomes that they to wish to achieve.

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If you have any questions or queries about the Work Star or Pathway Star, or you would just like find out more about how the Stars can support your service users, keyworkers and organisation, please contact us on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

Meet the team…Jane Borer, Client Services Manager

We have a vacancy for another Client Services Advisor. Jane Borer shares some insights on her team and what her best piece of advice to her younger self would be

The Client Services team plays a vital role in achieving Triangle's mission and vision. We aim to listen and learn from our clients to support Triangle in creating effective tools which can support service providers to help people achieve sustainable change, whatever the future may hold.

Jane Borer

Firstly, tell us a bit about the Client Services team, and how it works with Triangle…

How has the Triangle and the Client Services team changed over the years? Why is this? 

Triangle has grown so quickly, when I started working with Sara and Joy back in 2010 I was covering maybe one or two calls a day, organizing training courses, sending out packs of Star materials to clients, and preparing invoices and licences. It soon became unsustainable, so more people were recruited, then we started to take on broader tasks and we became involved in many different aspects of client support as the business grew in response to the needs of our clients and demand for the Stars. We have evolved in to a thriving team, with skills that have added immense value to how Triangle has been able to both support existing clients, and attract new ones.

How does Client Services integrate with other teams at Triangle? 

As we are the first point of contact for the majority of interested and existing clients, and we provide planning and co-ordination support to the setting up of new accounts and the ongoing maintenance of existing ones,  we work closely with every other team – we have to liaise closely with the Training team, we are in constant contact with the Implementation team to share knowledge about clients, we work closely with the marketing and comms team to engage with new campaigns and disseminate important information about the Star, and we then respond to the follow up from that. We are also closely linked with our internal systems team as heavy users of the CRM, and of course our finance colleagues to ensure clients are receiving their invoices. Another aspect of our work is to share knowledge across the teams, especially for the Directors, so they can use it for making strategic decisions.

What qualities do you and the team have in abundance? 

We are a diverse team of professionals with varied backgrounds and skills, and we all complement each other – the main common qualities that I feel we all share are warmth, the ability to build relationships, empathy, flexibility, and we all have a VERY good sense of humour!

Where do you see the Outcomes Star and the Client Services team five years from now? 

I see continued increase in demand for the Outcomes Star, across many diverse sectors. In Triangle’s mission statement one of the goals is that we are “responding to a changing world” and I see the Client Services team as a key element in achieving this goal – we will listen and learn from our clients, and share this learning across Triangle so that we are continuing to produce tools that can support service providers to help people achieve sustainable change, whatever the future may hold.

And on a lighter note… we’d love to know more about you…

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?  

I would want to help people to see the joy and fun in everything, and remember to always be NICE! 

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would they be and why? 

Oh easy –1) David Bowie – just because 2)  Clint Eastwood – for all the stories of Hollywood – and 3) Yootha Joyce – my favourite British comedy actress and one who is often totally underrated.

What did you want to be/do when you were growing up? 

I swayed between wanting to be a ballerina, an air hostess and a nurse. I didn’t do any dance classes as a child so the ballerina was not even a remote possibility! The air hostess and nursing options were probably more to do with the uniforms and the TV shows I watched at the time!

What book are you reading at the moment?

I used to read all the time when I commuted from Brighton to London for work back in the day, then I struggled to find the time when I had my son, but like so many other people lockdown has given me the chance to reignite my enjoyment, and I’ve read more since March 2020 than I have for the last 18 years! I’m currently reading  two books, “The Last Thing to Burn” by Will Dean which is excellent, and the latest autobiography of Michael J Fox, which is really inspirational, as he describes living with Parkinson’s Disease.

What’s your favourite film?

I have many – “Some Like it Hot”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, any of the Peter Sellers Clouseau/Pink Panther films, and Wayne’s World – 1 and 2 – a rather strange mix but one that pretty much sums me up!

Best piece of advice you’d give to your younger self? 

Stop caring so much about what other people think about you, and always do your own research and be confident to make up your own mind!

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For more information on our current vacancies please visit our Careers page. To find out more about the team and what it’s like working at Triangle take a look at our blog series and meet some of our other staff.

Better outcomes for refugees

The genesis of the Integration Star

In a follow-up to our webinar introducing the Integration Star, research analyst Dr Anna Good tells the story of how the new Star for refugees came into being.

Help for refugees to integrate into this country has long been under-resourced and patchy. Specialist refugee organisations are doing brilliant work, but many other services struggle to work out how best to support refugees. And until recently, there’s been little in the way of solid outcomes data that can help shape service delivery.

It’s this context that spurred the creation of the Integration Star – a tool for services working with refugees that enables both better conversations and better outcomes.

The new Star has come out of an exciting and timely meeting of minds. For some years, Triangle had been interested in developing a Star for refugees. “It was on our radar, and several refugee organisations had said it would be great to have an Outcomes Star,” says Triangle director Sara Burns. “I could see it could really work. But because refugee support services tend to be small organisations and quite poorly funded, there was never the support necessary for the collaboration.”

“So I was delighted when in 2018 the Refugee Council approached us and said they wanted to collaborate on a Star. They’d just received a tranche of European funding for a refugee integration programme, and as part of that they had undertaken a commitment to collaboratively create a tool for refugee integration.”

The wider integration and employment programme, New Roots, was led by the Refugee Council in partnership with organisations in Yorkshire and Humberside, and has supported some 2700 refugees, often with complex and multiple needs. In our recent webinar, Better Conversations, Better Outcomes, Refugee Council head of integration Andrew Lawton explains that this programme gave the organisation an excellent opportunity ”to consider how we assessed the impact of our services, not just for the Refugee Council but also for its clients and for others working in the same space”.

“We had often felt that there was more we as an organisation could do to demonstrate a consistent way of measuring an individual’s progression as a result of our support,” he says.

At the time, the Home Office was working on a new framework to support its integration strategy, Indicators of Integration. However, that didn’t include a practical tool for service delivery organisations to measure outcomes. So the participants in the New Roots programme decided to collaborate on a tool that could work for people providing help on the ground, aligned with the Home Office Indicators of Integration.

“We wanted to work towards a set of outcomes that could be used across a range of front line services and that could be shared with other services doing similar work,” says Andrew Lawton.

The Refugee Council was already aware of the Outcomes Stars and approached Triangle about a new Star for refugees. And so the collaboration – between Triangle, the Refugee Council, four New Roots partners and ten refugee community organisations – was born.

These organisations formed the expert committee that helped develop the outcome areas and Journey of Change for the Integration Star. As research analyst at Triangle, I carried out an initial literature review around important outcome areas for working with refugees and mapped these onto the domains in the Home Office’s framework. This research was used to inform Triangle’s tried and tested iterative process of working closely with managers, practitioners and service users to draft and refine the new version of the Star.

“The result? ‘An evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey.’”

Andrew Lawton

Throughout the process we were careful to make sure that new Star could work both for refugees arriving through a government resettlement programme and for those who enter the asylum process after arrival. While resettlement refugees receive a package of support that starts with meeting them at the airports and encompasses finding accommodation and providing day-to-day integration casework, the same specialist support doesn’t exist for other refugees. “It’s left to refugee support organisations and the wider voluntary sector to intervene depending on capacity, funding and services they have available,” says Andrew Lawton.

The result of the collaboration? In Andrew Lawton’s words, “an evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey, providing them with a tool that is visual, that helps them recognise their own achievements, and really track their own progress with the support of an adviser”.

Following extensive testing and revision, the final version of the Integration Star was published in autumn last year.

“It was a long time coming,” says Sara Burns. “But we’re delighted it happened – it’s a really important tool for the refugee sector.”

Collaborators in developing the Integration Star 
The Refugee Council
RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service), Leeds
PATH Yorkshire
Humber Community Advice Services (H-CAS)
Goodwin Development Trust.

10 community refugee organisations
Leeds Refugee Forum, Refugee Action Kingston, Iranian Association, Diversity Living Services, Bahar Women’s Association, Action for Community Development, West Yorkshire Somali Association, DAMASQ, Stepping Stone 4 and Leeds Swahili Community.

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The Integration Star was published at the end of 2020. A separate version, for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, the Planning Star, was published in July 2020. Both Stars are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

A day in the life of… the client services team

We asked our Client Services Manager, Jane Borer what a day in the life of her team looks like...

One of the best parts of working in client services at Triangle is that I get to speak to people (keyworkers, managers and organisations) that really inspire me.

Jane Borer

What’s a typical day look like in Client Services? 

A typical day involves checking the new enquiries that have come in, both via email and the phone, and planning how to respond, also catching up with work in progress, arranging training and licenses, and having Zoom/Teams calls with clients or colleagues. It’s busy, and you have to be prepared to be sidelined away from something, it’s rarely possible to focus on one thing and get it completed. This can be frustrating, but there’s never a dull moment. I’m often heard to be saying “Now, what was I doing before I got distracted…”! 

How do you ensure you provide a first rate customer service to clients and colleagues? 

Client Care is our mantra, every email and phone call is either a potential new Star user, or someone who can be supported by Triangle to use the Star even better than they already do, and if we get that right, then the people THEY support are going to benefit. It’s all about ensuring we respond in a responsive and timely way. Any query that comes in to us is responded to within 24 hours if at all possible, at least with an initial contact, to arrange a conversation, which increasingly since lock down now happens via Zoom rather than the traditional phone call! We troubleshoot for our colleagues too, and have a similar approach in our responsiveness to their requests for support.

What top three things about the Outcomes Star do you get asked by potential clients? 

Mainly 1) – how does it work? 2) – what will the benefits be to my service and the people I support? and 3) – who are the other services just like mine who are using it, and how does it benefit them?

What’s the most challenging thing about working in Client Services? 

The pace is very demanding, you have to be responsive to whatever comes your way, and you never really know what that might be. You also have to be prepared to juggle many different tasks and keep lots of plates spinning.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working in Client Services? 

Hearing the back stories from clients about how they started their charities, what drives them, their passion for what they do – and gaining a huge understanding for the difficulties and challenges that so many people face on a daily basis. Also, when a client tells you how using the Star has had an impact on not only their service users but on them as a team, then that is fantastic and gives you that “this is why I do my job” buzz.

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Sign up for our newsletter for more information, updates and news about vacancies. Take a look at our our other blogs to find out more about Triangle, our other teams and their members. We are currently recruiting for a Client Services Advisor to work with Jane and the team: visit our vacancy page for more information and a job description or contact us for a chat about the role.