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The Independence Initiative works with individuals, agencies and the community to facilitate the

long-term rehabilitation of people with a history of drug misuse and also provides support for

their families.


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0151 345 6639


June 22nd 2018


Bootle MP Peter Dowd Unveils The Indy's Dragonfly Mosaic


Peter Dowd MP unveiled a mosaic art work at the Independence Initiative in Bootle. The Indy as it is known locally has been providing a day programme for recovering substance misusers since 1998.

The Indy also offers a transitional housing unit (The Key) that provides housing for those who are not ready for community living or who are at risk of homelessness. They have grown form 2 units to 13 in just under 3 years, and will be opening a female only unit in Bootle in the coming months.

Local MP Peter Dowd said “I was delighted to attend the Independent Initiative today to unveil their new dragon fly mosaic, which represents transformation. The independent initiative truly achieves the goal of helping people to transform their lives. The service supports people with complex issues such as substance misuse, mental ill health and homelessness. The dedicated staff, volunteers and other professional help people to regain their lives and I would like to thank them for what they do in our community.

Jim Brett, Operations Manager, added “It was fantastic for Peter Dowd MP to come and unveil the mosaic artwork, it was great also that Roy Williams, CEO of One Vision Housing, was also in attendance. OVH are a key partner in providing the social housing for all of our residential graduates”.

The artwork called The Dragon Fly was designed and constructed by Amanda Jane Earley who explained that “In most cultures the dragonfly is a mythical insect that represents change and transformation, the mosaic shows a picture of a dragonfly in summertime following a pathway, beyond the gates are fields of golden wheat, blue skies and green pastures. My idea was to mirror optimism, the mosaic being placed on the path entrance of The Key, so service users who enter the building will be viewing a positive visual message entwined to their own personal journey to inspire change and wellbeing”


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Include-IT Mersey Project – being delivered at The Indy


What we want to achieve and how we intend to deliver it


Include-IT Mersey will provide targeted, personalised digital skills development and employment support to digitally excluded, unemployed/economically inactive residents of the Liverpool City Region (LCR) to improve their basic ICT and online skills, confidence and access to digital technologies, enabling them to overcome barriers resulting from a lack of digital skills.

Although the project’s primary focus is Digital Inclusion (DI), our delivery model is firmly set in the context of skills/employment and will ultimately support participants to progress towards employment or further training, helping those furthest from the labour market to become more job ready.


Our core delivery model involves:


1.Intelligent identification, referral and engagement, using robust data from the largest network of Housing Associations across LCR;


2.Volunteer Digital Champions for localised community engagement & support;


3.Highly experienced/effective, locally based, ICT & employment support providers, with extensive employer links;


4.Localised outreach delivery through a network of Delivery Partners (DPs), community venues and Housing Associations;


5.Digital surgeries/ IT drop-ins, aligned to our training provision, run by experienced staff and volunteers, to facilitate ongoing access to digital technologies, enabling participants to practice and apply their new found skills during and after training.

The delivery model diagram is appended (see Appendix 1).


The project will provide individually tailored, flexible programmes of support that respond to specific needs & barriers (to DI, employment & training) faced by participants.


Interesting approaches to developing basic digital skills, finding the right ‘hooks’ to engage people (e.g. social media, shopping, entertainment) will lead into more targeted, employment focused ICT delivery (e.g. online job search, universal job match, CV builder).  At this point, wider employment/ skills support will be weaved in, covering topics such as:


•Understanding recruitment & application processes, including on-line processes

•CV/ application writing

•Interview skills

•Other PSD: presentation, confidence, timekeeping, inter-personal & communication skills, teamwork, problem solving

•Workplace behaviours, rights & responsibilities

•Work experience, volunteering

•Wider progression support


Benefits to the individual (participant) include:

•Increased confidence, empowerment & inclusion through improved ability to use digital media to job search, improve skills and engage with public services, as well as friends & family.

•Renewed motivation to learn & progress in life; gaining what will, in many cases, be a first qualification

•Greater confidence in self-ability to judge & combat risks associated with online activity

•Better access to digital technology/ services and support in convenient locations

•Improved digital skills leading to:

•Financial: budgeting capability, savings through online shopping & cheaper communication

•Social: reduced isolation through social media; access to entertainment; ability to pursue interests online

•Health: access to online health services/advice

•Employment benefits:

•Ability to search & apply online, work-related IT skills

•Improved employability & workplace ICT skills, increasing employment prospects

•Work experience & volunteering opportunities as a pathway to employment

•Gaining employment

include it merseyside national lottery

July 2nd 2018

July 25th 2018


A great big thank you goes out to Hugh Baird and the painting & decorating students. 



They very kindly painted the exterior of our building on Balliol Road, Bootle, free of charge!. As a charity we struggle to find the funding for such maintenance jobs – so this has been a real help to us and our service users.

And they did a brilliant job too – thanks again

hugh baird decorators

Sept 17th 2018



Quaker Housing Trust helps The Key to grow


Thanks to a grant of £10,000 a brand new en-suite room has been added to The Key at the Indy. Quaker Housing Trust is a small charity offering support and loans/ grants to projects who might have difficulty getting funding elsewhere.


With this assistance from QHT we have redeveloped an old learning room into a self-contained modern living space with its own bathroom. This will provide transitional housing accommodation for people who are recovering from substance misuse and are at risk of homelessness, and who are looking to settle in the community. We provide ongoing support to these people and when the time is ready we will look to place them with our housing partners, One Vision Housing.


The additional room will no doubt add to the ongoing success of The Key as we continue to become a premier service across Merseyside. We now have 9 rooms on site, a 4 bed house in the local community, and a 4 bed female only unit due to open in October 18.


So a great big thank you to Quaker Housing Trust!


For any information regarding The Key please contact us directly on 0151 284 1100. We are here to help in whatever way we can.


And finally - if anybody wants to help furnish the room/s please get in touch

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Liverpool City Region’s Digital Inclusion Project (Building Better Opportunities)


The Independence Initiative has now finished its first Digital Inclusion course, 9 weeks of hard work for the four successful students.




























If you are looking to be one of our next successful students contact Paulene at the Independence Initiative to add your name to the list, new course starting soon.

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Sept 27th 2018




Active Communities Funding Programme


We are now at the midpoint of our funding from the People’s Health Trust using money raised through The Health Lottery in the North West.

This has allowed us to establish a mutual support networks, enabling people in recovery to build connections and support to stabilise recovery.

We are developing a self-sustaining recovery community, and challenging stigma through active citizenship and provide peer-led crisis support for vulnerable people. It is led by people in/transitioning to abstinence from substance misuse in South Sefton, Merseyside.

Active Communities supports people to create and shape local projects that will help their community or neighbourhood to become even better. Active Communities projects aim to develop social links and ties and supports residents to discuss and act on things thatv are important to them

Peoples Health Trust is an independent charity investing in local neighbourhoods to create a society without health inequalities. It works closely with each of the regional and country lotteries raising money through The Health Lottery, and distributes grants.



February 7th 2019

Feb 11th 2019


Become a Trustee at The Indy


The Independence Initiative are looking to recruit new trustees – please follow link below




How to apply


Applications should be made via the TrusteeWorks team in the first instance.  To apply please submit your CV along with a covering letter stating why you wish to join the organisation, how your skills would add value to the board and any other relevant information.  


Please email applications to [email protected]












The Indy reaches 21 years landmark


The Indy celebrated 21 years of trading this week (registered on 12/3/1998). We will be holding an open day for the local community, all local services and current funders, and anyone who just wants to come along and see what we do. We want it to be a celebration so we will wait until warmer weather arrives.


Please keep an eye on the local press for further announcements – and please remember we are nothing without your continued support! ...


Thank You


















A big "Thank You" to Regenerus for funding a new lawn mower and over 120 plants for our garden. The mower is allowing our volunteers to help with the upkeep of our lawns while the plants will provide a lot of much needed colour to our borders in the summer.






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Fire Safety Awareness training for all Indy residents and staff


The Indy is providing training to all of its' residents and staff in Fire Safety Awareness. Jim Brett (Operations Manager) says "as a provider of specialist transitional housing we fully understand the need for fire safety in our premises. And by providing this training to all residents and staff we can both reduce the obvious risks, and bring much-needed awareness to everyone. As our residents move on into the community this awareness will be a great asset".



















The training is being provided by MSC Consultancy Services who are a Liverpool based firm offering great rates as well as high-quality training and advice. (0151 384 0407)


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Liverpool City Region Digital Inclusion (Building Better Opportunities)



The second of our Digital inclusion course has now finished. The hard work and dedication of the three students on the course has given them the skills to move on in the digital world.

Congratulations to Carl, Greg and Mark.  

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The Indy Garden is awarded Level 3 advancing by the Royal Horticultural Society.










Congratulations to our gardening team on gaining a level 3 award at the 2019 RHS In Bloom awards. Volunteer Lee (left) and our gardener / Housing Liasion Officer Ian were presented with the certificate at the awards ceremony in Southport.


Our garden has undergone a transformation in the last 12 months, following a complete re-design last winter. It has been mainained to a very high standard by a number of our residents who are keen to improve on things this summer.


The garden provides a safe haven for wildlife as well as providing an oasis of colour in the middle of a built up area.



                                Our thanks to Regenerus for supplying funding to assist us with our gardening activities

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January 14th 2020

Feb 12th 2020



INDY recognised as one of the STARS of SEFTON




The Indy are proud to display our Certificate of Recognition for supporting people back into work.

We have a long history of working with [email protected], and have found some amazing staff as a result.




March 26th 2020


Covid 19 Update from Independence Initiative


At this time of uncertainty and amidst the terrible issues surrounding the Covid 19 virus, we have taken the decision to go into lockdown. Behind the scenes we will be monitoring the situation very closely and will be in touch with our major stakeholders as and when needed.


We have had to make this decision based on the government’s new rules to tackle COVID-19, a coronavirus that can affect your lungs and airways. It is important everyone has the right information at this time, so please read the information as set out below:


Stay at Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives


Everyone must now stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.

The only reasons to leave home are:-


To shop for basic necessities or pick up medicine  

Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person  

To travel to work if you absolutely cannot work from home  

To exercise once a day on your own or with people in your household  


Please telephone rather than visiting people in hospital where at all possible.


If you have to go out for one of these reasons


Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people  

Wash your hands for 20 seconds as soon as you get home  


Please watch this short government video for a summary of the changes that they have put in place as of today.


The situation is changing often so please check on the NHS website for the latest information on what everyone should be doing and what to do if you have symptoms (a high temperature and/or a new continuous cough).


Advice for People at Higher Risk

You may be at high risk from coronavirus if you:


have had an organ transplant  

are having certain types of cancer treatment  

have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia  

have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma  

have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections  

are taking medicine that weakens your immune system  

are pregnant and have a serious heart condition  


Advice for people at high risk is to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks. Find out more about additional action for vulnerable people by reading this guidance.



Getting Help to Stay at Home – with or without symptoms


Staying at home will slow the spread of the virus, help the NHS to cope and save lives. Ask family, friends and neighbours to get what you need such as shopping or prescriptions, and use online services.


Liverpool City Council has volunteers geared up to support people too, so you can also call Liverpool City Council on 0151 233

3066 from 8am to 6pm, seven days a week or request help online.

Liverpool City Council also want to identify more volunteers. If you are free to offer to help someone the number is 0151 233 3068 or register to volunteer online.


Getting Medical Help


If you need medical help not related to coronavirus, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital in person.

For health information and advice, please use these internet and phone options:-


The NHS website to check symptoms and for health advice  

Your GP surgery website ( use this link to find it ) and use their online support where possible.  

For same-day medical help, use the NHS 111 online service. Call 111  unable to get help online.  

For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance.









Steve Morgan Foundation - emergency relief fund


I am extremely pleased to announce receipt of a grant for £7800 from the Steve Morgan Foundation. This is most welcome as we deal with the ongoing Covid 19 crisis. It will help us to continue providing vital services for our residents and clients. Steve is providing up to £1 million pounds per week for an initial 12 weeks - an astonishing show of support for our sector!


All our thanks must go to Steve for his amazing generosity, and to Jane and all the staff for the speed that they have processed this application. After all they are in the same situation and deserve much praise


Thank you from everyone connected with the Indy!


April 1 2020

April 28th 2020


May 1st 2020


Thanks to funders Steve Morgan Foundation and LCR Cares we are delivering food and essentials to our residents.

Thanks again guys!!

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May 13th 2020

Another food parcel for our residents at Balliol Road. Thanks to all the grant funders during Covid 19. Helping John here as he is keeping our garden looking lovely!

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June 2nd 2020



We are incredibly pleased to announce financial support in the sum of £15,000 from AB Charitable Trust.  The funding will support our latest pilot project. The aim is to pilot an approach to working with people released from prison that improves the likelihood of them remaining in stable accommodation beyond the first month.

When dealing with people recently released from prison, the psychological impact of 'freedom' can be to encourage people to take flight. Even where prison staff and prisoners have identified and set out clear plans prior to release (to settle, to address drug problems, to avoid toxic social networks etc), the impact of release can be transformational.

The AB Charitable Trust are hoping to create a fair and just criminal justice system with a significantly reduced prison population, which considers individual needs and potential, and places a focus on prevention and rehabilitation. They support charities that work with people at any stage of the criminal justice system, that support individuals to resettle successfully in the community, and charities which promote a fair and just system.

Hopefully this will be the start of a long, happy, and successful partnership


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Aug 20th 2020

Gill Tollitt, Include-IT Mersey project tutor triumphs at national employability awards


Local IT tutor Gill Tollitt, employed by the WEA, has scooped a prestigious national award for her work in supporting ever-growing numbers of jobseekers. The accolade was awarded online by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the membership body for the employment support sector.


Winning the crown of Frontline Adviser of the Year, sponsored by The Digital College, industry experts judged Ms Tollitt to have demonstrated exceptional commitment in a frontline advisory role, winning the prestigious award from a shortlist of 15 nominees.


The awards, now in their eight year, applaud the dedication, expertise and innovation shown by everyone working to get Britain back to work. This year there were 145 award submissions across 12 categories, showcasing the holistic support required to help people, often with complex barriers to employment, into or closer work.


Gill is a tutor employed by the WEA, one of 14 delivery partners involved with the Include-IT Mersey project.  Established in 2017 the project, funded by the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund supports workless residents of the Liverpool City Region to learn essential IT and online skills to help them become more job-ready and move into or closer to work.  


VOLA’s Stuart McGrory said “When our team first discussed the ERSA award categories, there was an overwhelming consensus that we should nominate Gill for this particular award.  We have some fantastic tutors working on the project, all doing amazing work, but Gill stands out! Gill does exceptional work that is creative, flexible and innovative, but most importantly, she consistently goes the extra mile.”


WEA Manager Graham Barker said “Gill was successful in securing the position of tutor on our project and very quickly became integral in the project team.  She brought a flare to the role in her organisational skills, understanding of what we are trying to achieve and her empathy for the people we are trying to help.


Gill has the knack of understanding what people need, not just in developing their IT and employability skills, but all of the background things that people need to get on in life.  Gill’s award is very much deserved and all of us at the WEA are extremely proud of her achievement!”


Some quotes from Gill’s learners include:


“Since starting the course my life has gone so fast-paced into a better lifestyle, I couldn’t have done it without Gill’s help and support. I have better confidence, a better life and am not looking back. Two years ago I lost everything and turned to alcohol and drugs. I’ve come so far and I am so grateful for Gill’s support.”


“There was a relaxed, safe, fun environment and you learn best when you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself.  I found the course informative in a relaxed atmosphere.  It gave me the permission to widen my horizons and think bigger.  Gill was incredibly welcoming and inspiring, encouraging me to think outside the box and that all my goals are achievable.”


To date, Gill has supported 175 digitally excluded people to gain IT and employment skills and move on in life in a more positive direction.  What makes Gill stand out above the rest is her ‘over and above’, or her ‘extra mile’! Gill’s learners leave with motivation, passion and a zest for life they didn’t have before.


Everyone involved in VOLA, the WEA and the Include-IT Mersey project would like to congratulate Gill on her prestigious and well deserved award!



VOLA Consortium and the Include-IT Mersey project triumph at national employability awards


A Liverpool City Region based consortium of voluntary sector skills and employment support providers and its Include-IT Mersey digital inclusion project has scooped a prestigious national award for its work in supporting ever-growing numbers of jobseekers. The accolade was awarded online by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the membership body for the employment support sector.


Winning the crown of Team of the Year, industry experts judged VOLA and the Include-IT Mersey team to have demonstrated outstanding commitment in meeting and exceeding the delivery aims of an employment provider. The Team of Year award category was sponsored by Leeds University Business School.


The awards, now in their eight year, applaud the dedication, expertise and innovation shown by everyone working to get Britain back to work. This year there were 145 award submissions across 12 categories, showcasing the holistic support required to help people, often with complex barriers to employment, into or closer work.


Include-IT Mersey is a digital inclusion project funded by the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund to support digitally excluded, workless residents of the Liverpool City Region to learn essential IT skills to help them get into or closer to work.


Established in 2017, the project helps people to improve basic ICT and online skills, confidence and access to digital technologies, with the ultimate aim of supporting progression towards employment or further training, helping those furthest from the labour market to become more job-ready.


Led by Sefton CVS in partnership with VOLA Consortium and 14 other not-for-profit providers, to date, the project has supported 1,299 socially and digitally excluded residents to upskill and move on in life in a more positive direction.  


Project partners include: Age UK Wirral, Alt Valley Development Trust, Big Help Project, Everton Development Trust, Greenbank College, Granby Toxteth Development Trust, Independence Initiatives, Rotunda College, Speke Training and Education Centre, St. Helens Chamber, Torus Foundation, Worker’s Educational Association, Halton & St Helens Voluntary and Community Action and Good Things Foundation.


To date, 563 participants have progressed to work, further training or active job search, with 174 currently on programme, surpassing total project targets.


Elizabeth Taylor, Chief Executive of ERSA said: “Every nomination we received this year was worthy of recognition. The winners and those highly commended epitomise the best of the best work across the employability sector. Both before and during the Coronavirus crisis, and most definitely as we emerge into challenging times ahead, everyone recognised by these awards is playing their part in getting the economy moving, people working and communities thriving.


I want to thank our sponsors and everyone who took time to submit an entry for enabling us to celebrate this exemplary work.”


Consortium Manager, Stuart McGrory said “My Board, consortium members, funders and strategic partners always tell me that we never shout about ourselves enough for the excellent, crucial work we do to support the city region’s most disadvantaged residents; and we have certainly never applied for an award before!


But in recent months, with the challenging circumstances presented by the Coronavirus crisis, the way I have seen my project team – at all levels – proactively spring in to action to change the ways we work to ensure continued remote support for learners during the lock-down, has just inspired and encouraged me, and filled me with pride!  I have genuinely thought ‘what a team.’ “


The project has 42 staff in the wider delivery team, the vast majority of which in front-line delivery roles, supported by VOLA’s six-strong central management unit based in Sefton CVS.  37 volunteer Digital Champions, equally respected and embraced as team members, support and enhance the work of the project, running digital drop-ins, supporting course delivery and even providing phone support to IT beginners during the recent lock-down.


On being asked why he thinks they are such a good team, Stuart McGrory said “First and foremost, it’s the shared sense of ownership and common goal that exists throughout the project team of our mission to help socially and digitally excluded people to move on in life.  We are committed, proactive and professional people – at all levels - who really care about the learners we support.  We pride ourselves on the extremely positive working culture that is apparent across all project partners and team members.  There are high levels of trust, collaboration, flexibility and creative approaches to problem solving.  All of these result in the high performing project and wider consortium that makes such a difference to people’s lives and of which I am proud to lead.”


For more information about the project visit www.includeitmersey.org.uk.