Who are the Rapid Recovery Challenge semi-finalists?

  • Karmel Edmonds

    Karmel Edmonds

    Programme Manager

    View profile

15 Feb 2021

Meet the 14 teams providing better access to jobs and money for those impacted by the pandemic

Last December, we welcomed 14 fantastic organisations as semi-finalists on the Rapid Recovery Challenge. These organisations have already used their solutions to make a real difference, and believe their innovations have the potential to help the many thousands more who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

All 14 innovators are now hard at work, fine-tuning and developing their solutions ready to scale them to help even more people in need. 

Below is an introduction to our remarkable innovators, their solutions and some reactions from those they have already helped. These case studies are all from their existing provisions,  as our innovators are currently in the process of developing them further to meet the aims of the challenge and to scale from May 2021 onwards. 

Who are the teams? Click to learn more...

Evenbreak helps connect inclusive employers to disabled job candidates. It ensures that every disabled person looking for work can access relevant and effective support tailored to their needs, as well as inclusive employers that are looking to recruit disabled candidates. This support is delivered by trained careers consultants with lived experience of disability, and also includes a moderated online platform to engage peer support.

“Over a year ago, I was in a wheelchair from a 2015 car accident, wondering if I would ever get back to a fulfilling career. Thanks to Jane Hatton and Evenbreak I did, through Waitrose & Partners. Evenbreak advertises specifically those employers that are just that bit more ready to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Shout out to Jane, and Waitrose, because I feel I have been given my life back!” 

An Evenbreak end user

The Beam Hub empowers marginalised individuals to take charge of their own job search, helping them to feel prepared and confident in their applications. Designed for a post-Covid job market, tools will improve digital literacy, demonstrate how to navigate online application portals, and provide employer lists for in-demand sectors, such as healthcare and logistics. Individuals with specific financial barriers to work, such as vocational training, can launch a crowdfunding campaign on the Beam website to cover the costs.

Cherrie very suddenly lost her job as a live-in carer earlier this year, and as a result became homeless. She is currently squatting in an abandoned house with six other individuals, with no access to water or electricity. She recently raised £3,847 with Beam, which will not only support her into work, but will also cover her deposit and first month’s rent in her new home. 

The ‘Skills Bridges’ solution aims to ensure that unemployed people and those looking to reskill for new careers are given support to link their core transferable skills to job opportunities. The solution allows people who have been displaced from their roles to access potential career changes, signposting people engaged in insecure job roles to more sustainable careers. Upon completion of a Skills Bridges online learning programme, individuals will receive a City & Guilds digital credential, enabling them to access job boards and showcase their talents across social media platforms.

“Having worked in hospitality for as long as I can remember I was scared about transitioning from my current job, but the Covid-19 pandemic prompted me to explore different fields where society and my community needed me most. I decided to start working in social care and got this great opportunity from City & Guilds to retrain. I realised after a week of working in social care that my previous experience in hospitality plays a significant role in me performing my duties as an adult social carer. This has been a great step in my life, I’m going to stay in this field, get more training and look for opportunities to progress. I enjoy the fact that I’m helping people – it’s really good to be doing this job.” 

Richard, a Skills Bridges user, was awarded a City & Guilds bursary in 2020 to complete his qualification in Health and Social Care

Hastee’s solution allows employees to withdraw a portion of their pay as soon as they have earned it, breaking the outdated monthly pay-cycle that forces many into debt. Hastee will use the Rapid Recovery Challenge to build on this solution, launching a bespoke financial education platform, free for a year to all 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK. They also plan to make earnings on demand accessible to an additional 97,000 people in the Challenge’s target audiences through industry partnerships, and develop a comprehensive financial management offering within their app.

“By giving our workers access to Hastee, it has been further evidence to them that they are a valued member of our workforce and has helped reduce a very real stress for them. The integration with Hastee is so easy and now we get no requests for pay advances – we are saving time on admin, helping reduce financial stress for our people and helping to attract and retain our people and increase productivity across the board.”

Trisha Raisbeck, Business ServicesManager, Graham Care Group. 

Income Max took their long-standing and well-tested in-person services digital! IncomeMax Digital assists UK citizens to find vital sources of new income, including unclaimed benefits, grants and help for utility bills. Billions of pounds go unclaimed each year in the UK. IncomeMax digital will reunite people with these funds, helping them take control of their finances.

The team at IncomeMax recently helped Mick and Julie. Mick worked all his life as a butcher, but last year he had a stroke. Julie helped Mick to make a claim for the Personal Independence Payment but the DWP turned the claim turned down. Julie contacted IncomeMax for support to appeal the decision. They provided personal support to help Mick appeal and the appeal was successful, with a Personal Independence Payment awarded to Mick, to help support him and his wife as he continues his recovery from stroke. 

Money dashboard’s Spending Plan’ is a cash survival tool for vulnerable people. The tool helps people to spend less and save more by nudging them into effective money management. It uses machine learning technology to detect regular upcoming payments enabling a forecasted cash flow to be built with minimal user intervention. People know exactly how much they have left to spend, after they’ve paid their bills. The tool further prompts people into budgeting effectively so they can spend on the things most important to them, whilst avoiding any unnecessary spending.

“I got into bad financial habits very quickly after graduating from university and getting my first job. I wasn’t living within my means – I was constantly just a little bit more into my overdraft. I made the mistake of keeping a legacy overdraft from when I was a student and it never really reduced. I knew there were some budgeting apps where you have to put everything in yourself, but they’re very manual and I was hoping there would be one that could connect straight to your bank accounts.  I’ve been with Money Dashboard for nearly a year now and I no longer spend as much as I used to on shopping.”

Amanda, Money Dashboard user.

NestEgg is a financial health app that makes it easy for low-income workers to access affordable credit from responsible lenders and to start saving for a resilient future. The app combines data from a user’s credit file and bank accounts, and transforms them into three Financial Health Indicators: borrowing, spending and saving.

“NestEgg hasn’t just made it possible for us to offer our services more efficiently. It has opened our eyes to a world on information we didn’t know we needed. Information that doesn’t simply make it possible for us to make better decisions but allows us to investigate the appropriateness of our products and the opportunities we are missing.”
Greg Boynton, Accounts & Credit Control Manager, Knowsley Mutual Credit Union

Policy in Practice is developing a consumer facing version of their ‘My Benefits Calculator’. The calculator gives audiences a free personalised way to navigate the complex benefit system. COVID-19 has made many more of us financially insecure and in need of social security, sometimes for the first time. Often, we don’t know the full range of help we could get from the benefit system, and £10 million goes unclaimed each year. Policy in Practice’s app helps users to access the widest possible range of support, keep track of Universal Credit as payments change month to month. This puts users back in control of their finances and allows them to take steps toward financial independence. 

Gemma is a single parent from London, whose income was negatively affected by the benefits cap. She began falling behind with her finances and was served with an eviction notice by her landlady. This meant that Gemma and her young children could soon become homeless. Terrified of these consequences, Gemma reached out to her local Community Connect Advisor at a London Council for support and guidance. The Advisor helped Gemma to create a tailored action plan and using the calculator, they discovered Gemma was missing out on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) support from the benefits system. By working with the London Council, Gemma and her three children were able to avoid homelessness and stay in the family home.

Prosper 4 Business CIC is piloting an inclusive “Careers Portal”, showcasing thousands of live jobs. Their solution is to improve access to jobs for people who are marginalised – and to do it inclusively; working with young people, women, BAME participants and those experiencing unemployment. 

Chris was a psychology graduate and qualified youth justice worker who had unfortunately run into his own problems with the legal system. As a marginalised individual working through a rehabilitation programme, he needed support to return to employment.  Job coaches from Prosper4 started to meet with Chris regularly, signed him up to the jobs portal, and connected him with a start-up technology company, where he developed and wrote content for their website. Most recently, he landed an ongoing part-time position with an inclusive third sector employer.

Sortyourfuture.com is an online platform with a mission to support over 1 million young people from all backgrounds and regions of the UK to get into work they want over the next three years. Their transferable skills matching system helps young people identify skills they have and skills they might need to develop, and show them jobs they can apply for right now or online courses and training they can access to help them quickly upskill. 

During the Rapid Recovery Challenge they’ll be adding new features to Sortyourfuture.com designed specifically to tackle the current issues young people are facing – in particular the challenge of getting immediate work that keeps them financially stable, whilst also looking to future career goals.

“I was extremely fortunate to discover Sort as a tool in searching for careers and opportunities, especially in recent times. With opportunities becoming increasingly scarce and the outlook on certain jobs shifting to being viewed as essential, I was forced to reconsider my career prospects and whether I wished to proceed to further education. After creating an account on Sort, you are greeted with a page in which you select your interests and skills, so a list of careers suited to you can be fetched. Sort also has a separate page for opportunities, here you are presented with qualifications and courses you can complete to strengthen your CV and increase employability. I look forward to how this will benefit me in the future, especially with the new upcoming features.”

Hamza, Sort Your Future user.

Turning grant delivery digital will enable Turn2us to deliver easier and faster financial support from their various grant programmes to a larger number of people who are in financially vulnerable circumstances.

The new digital grants delivery platform will enable those in need to apply online with a few simple steps, be verified and, if approved, to receive instant financial support on the same day. This rapid response to the many challenging and difficult personal income shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic will enable people in financial hardship to cope more quickly and effectively.

“In 2016 I was battling depression, struggling to navigate the complex benefits system and trying desperately to keep food on the table for myself and my little girl. Because I needed to go from full-time work to part-time hours, I was only earning only £400 per month which wasn’t enough to get by. Being a working single mum is stressful enough, but this felt impossible. I looked for help and eventually came across the Turn2us grants search and applied. I was lucky enough to get a cash grant so I was then able to afford our family’s living costs, plus cover debts.”

A Turn2Us grant recipient.

Udrafter is an online platform where businesses can access student and graduate talent on-demand and students are paid to complete degree relevant micro-internships which provide them with crucial work experience. Udrafter removes the ‘who you know’ barriers to work experience and provides equal opportunities for all students.

Take a look at Udrafter cast studies.

UK Youth has teamed up with Snook to transform their previously face-to-face financial education programme, ‘Money for Life’, into an innovative blended learning model which will give UK Youth the ability to scale and reach young people across the UK.

“[Before Money for Life], I was looking for work but worrying about my future and if I will ever be making the money I think I need for a decent life. I got involved in Money for Life to understand how to manage the little money I have. No one had ever explained to me how this works and I felt I would never have or make enough money. Money for Life was a great experience for me. We all come from backgrounds where no one is around to explain how to budget and save. I am now more confident about handing money. I have already started to see me being better with money and I have more available. I now feel I can plan and be careful with money.” 

A UK Youth’s ‘Money for Life’ user, aged 21.

TryTech enables young people in insecure or low-paid jobs to access free support to secure knowledge-based roles in tech startups. Its innovative online platform provides access to curated content and intensive support through ‘Learn’, ‘Apply’ and ‘Work’ phases, and matches individuals to live roles.

Hamza is an 18-year-old from London and is currently studying his A levels in college. He is also one of Sort Your Future’s Youth Advisory panelists who provides monthly user feedback on the Sort Your Future platform.

A young Black man in a black hooded sweatshirt sits in a black and white computer chair, in front of a shelving unit

The £3 million Rapid Recovery Challenge will find and scale tools and services that improve access to jobs and money for people within the UK, focusing on those hardest hit by the economic shock resulting from COVID-19. It is funded by Nesta, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Money and Pensions Service.

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