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Kensington and Chelsea is seen as a rich area. However, the wards in the north of the borough are in stark contrast and are among the most deprived wards in the country.Nova is based in the St helens Ward

[quote a few stats about St Helens and neighbouring wards]

Socio-economic deprivation is ingrained: up to 60% live in social housing, up to 70% of school children are in workless households and 50% of children live in overcrowded homes. People living in our wards have an average life expectancy more than 10 years lower than those in the healthiest wards. High levels of worklessness mean the area is predominately characterised as being significantly deprived (within the worst 10% in England). The diversity of our population – over 60% are from BME communities – also has implications for community cohesion. It has a high proportion of ethnic minorities and recent immigrants whose English is poor. Deprivation also exhibits as a lack of access to experiences that nurture and inspire, including engagement and participation in cultural activities. Low levels of cultural participation means families have less opportunity for self-expression, learning new and transferable skills, enjoying and achieving and, consequently, raising confidence and self-esteem.


NOVA is far from the only charity working in this area. But it tends to deal with the people with the particularly problematic backgrounds who have not found help elsewhere, including those with mental health difficulties, and provides a unique holistic approach. This includes not just courses to gain basic skills, but a nurturing environment in which our clients can interact socially and develop their confidence, and also develop civic awareness. Our aim is to encourage our clients to become more independent and confident in tackling the issues they face and less reliant on support services, and also better integrated into the community.


 A community-based group like ours, working in a flexible, informal and multi-ethnic setting, is in a good position to offer individuals locally the type of flexible services that they need to ensure they can be included and go forward in life with confidence. Apart from the formal setting of the local college of further education there is nowhere in the area which offers the combination of services which we offer. NOVA is run by a close and dedicated team. The majority of staff are local people who have come through the organisation as students and volunteers (65%) and we consistently progress learners and service users on to volunteering and then paid work within NOVA. This model ensures the organisation keeps a close connection and remains embedded in the community and has a profound understanding of the community’s needs.


Recent changes in state support mean that the need for our services is increasing.


  • Job Centres are no longer providing as many services to job-seekers as before and they are increasingly referring people to NOVA and similar organisations for help. The North Kensington Job Centre referred xx people to NOVA in 2015-16. Nova’s advisers help people who find it difficult to make applications online; provides telephones for their use in talking to possible future employers; and helps them draft CVs.


  • The new requirement under the Universal Credit system for job-seekers to spend 35 hours a week looking for employment has also caused consternation for many, especially the long term unemployed (who often have little idea how to proceed) and those suffering from health issues or with family commitments. Nova’s IAG team have been able to help people organise their time and access employment websites and other sources.


  • The removal of disability benefits from large numbers of people has also led those affected locally to seek advice from Nova about their next steps. Many have never been employed or have not worked for many years and need a lot of help to adjust to their new circumstances. Nova is also able to refer those who wish to challenge the removal of their benefits to Citizens Advice Bureaux and other organisations.