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Nesta forming coalition to support workers hardest hit by the pandemic

THE Big Issue Group, Do it Now Now, and Youth Fed have been revealed as the first organisations to join Nesta’s Rapid Recovery Network. Each of these three not-for-profits leading the charge will receive JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic support to help them meet their ambitious targets.

The newly formed network is tasked with supporting the Rapid Recovery Challenge – a  £3m Challenge funded by Nesta with support from JPMorgan Chase, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It focuses on supporting and scaling solutions from 14 organisations and charities, which improve the job prospects and financial situation of those in the most precarious positions due to COVID-19, including young people and marginalised groups. Nesta’s ambition is to reach one million people by 2023, and the Rapid Recovery Network is crucial to reach this goal.

The innovative solutions that the coalition will raise awareness of include tools that help entry-level candidates access job opportunities make identifying and matching skills easier, and make job searches more tailored to the needs of individuals, including marginalised groups such as disabled people, young people and homeless individuals. Other tools use smart data and open banking technologies to help individuals manage money, access responsible credit and benefits, and smooth income.

The three initial members of the Rapid Recovery Network will help reach the end-users of these solutions through individual, tailored engagement campaigns reaching people in communities up and down the UK:

  • The Big Issue Group – through its Ride out the Recession Alliance (RORA) initiative, social investment network and well-known publications, the Big Issue Group will work to engage directly with those who will benefit from these tools as well as drawing on their vast and growing alliance to reach diverse groups of people across the UK.
  • Do It Now Now – a community interest company tackling the root of financial insecurity in the Black community – particularly among Black women, Black LGBTQ+ and Black non-binary people. Do it Now Now is experienced in direct engagement to reach a range of people and will use these methods alongside the support of an existing network of 75 providers across the UK to showcase relevant solutions and tools to this key audience who have been particularly hit by the economic impact of COVID-19.
  • Youth Fed – a charity focused on helping young people – particularly in the North West of England – to overcome barriers to education, training and employability. Youth Fed have tried and tested methods of engagement which they will use to help young people interact with the innovators’ tools and services, and will liaise with other youth-focused organisations across the UK to ensure as many young people are reached as possible.

Tris Dyson, Managing Director, Nesta Challenges, said:

“While the end of lockdown may be in sight, the impacts of long Covid on the economy and people’s jobs and finances are still to be felt. Innovative solutions designed with people at their core are what we need right now to help people recover. The Rapid Recovery Challenge solutions have been selected by leaders in the field as well as tested extensively with individuals, but we now need to get these tools into people’s hands without delay. With the support of our Rapid Recovery Network, we hope to reach one million people by 2023, and we hope more organisations will join us in this mission.”

It’s well known that the economic impact of COVID-19 is hitting some groups of society particularly hard, including those in low paid work, younger workers and those in insecure roles, such as gig workers or those on temporary contracts. Previous research from Nesta found 35% of gig economy workers, freelancers, and people in temporary or zero-hour contracts said their finances suffered in the November 2020 lockdown, as did 41% of 18-24-year-olds – both higher than the 30% national average. Meanwhile, half (49%) of all people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds said they were terrified about their financial future – compared to 32% of people from white backgrounds.

To meet the size of the problem across the UK, Nesta is calling for more organisations to join the Rapid Recovery Network. It is looking for organisations who have direct access to individuals and communities who have been hit hard by the pandemic and could use some support with access to jobs as all as assistance managing their finances. Nesta hopes to engage with organisations from a wide variety of sectors and industries to reach as many people as possible – from banks and supermarkets to housing associations and food banks. The learnings and experience of the Rapid Recovery Network members will also feed into policy recommendations Nesta will be producing at the end of the Challenge.

Hang Ho, Head of Global Philanthropy EMEA and LATAM, J.P. Morgan said:

“COVID-19 has exacerbated structural barriers to opportunity for youth, low-paid workers and other people in underserved communities. At JPMorgan Chase, we are committed to advancing an inclusive recovery by collaborating with government and community leaders, and collaboration with organisations like Nesta to identify innovative solutions for economic opportunity are a key component of this work.” 

The goal of the coalition and Challenge reflects MaPS’ UK strategy for financial wellbeing through its engagement with young people, encouraging them to embrace good savings habits and to consider alternatives to credit.

For more information, and to find out how to join the Rapid Recovery Network, please visit: rapidrecovery.challenges.org/.

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