Supporting you back into work

We can refer you to partner organisations who can give advice, support and training to help you learn new skills and get back into work.

Housing Employment Network North East (HENNE)

HENNE is a partnership of 13 housing providers across the North East that are responsible for more than 190,000 homes. The partnership and its providers work with tenants, residents, communities, and stakeholders to achieve a strategic, co-ordinated approach to employability.

Research shows that 4 in 10 people living in social housing are economically inactive, compared with about 2 in 10 people living in other types of housing.

HENNE aims to support tenants and residents with direct access to the local labour market and help people develop skills and experience too. HENNE will work with people who are economically inactive to help support and explore how they can prepare for, find, and get quality jobs.

Aside from Gentoo, the providers on the partnership are:

Each housing provider has a careers or jobs page.

Wise Group - Regional mentoring

The Wise Group is now delivering its free-to-access, holistic, and evidenced Relational Mentoring support to economically inactive people with multiple barriers to employment in Sunderland City Council area. By working with people across a diverse set of 15 needs, ranging from housing, wellbeing, health and heating, multiple barriers can be tackled at once to give people the foundations to move forward with their lives.

Customers are matched with a locally based and experienced mentor, working compassionately and 1:1 to support them in identifying their specific barriers, developing a bespoke plan with key interventions, and creating a personalised journey with individual goals. Customer benefit entitlements are not affected by participation in the service.

Each journey is unique but examples of support can include:-

  • Access to counselling and mental health support
  • Help to improve physical health and wellbeing
  • Advocacy and support with finance, benefits and debt
  • Basic and life skills and training, including Maths & English qualifications
  • Involvement in fun social inclusion events
  • Personal wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence-building activities
  • Energy advice and advocacy, including access to crisis funding
  • Housing support and guidance
  • CV writing, job search, volunteering and work experience
  • Signposting to other suitable services in the community


Economically Inactive customers in receipt of any disability/sickness benefits, carers, lone parents in the non-work group, people not in receipt of benefits. You must be a resident in the Sunderland City Council area.

The project has 14 mentors across the city including delivery partners such as Springboard, Pallion Action Group, Humankind plus specialist providers such as CAB and NE BIC and some additional training providers.

Anyone interested or who could benefit from this support can self-refer on the Wise Group website or emailing

Foundation of Light programmes

The Foundation of Light offers programmes at the Beacon of Light to help young people aged 16 to 19 get qualifications, skills and practical work experience.

Back on Track helps young people aged 16 to 19 get qualifications, skills and practical work experience. Find out more about the Back on Track programme.

Back in the Game helps people aged 19 and over to get skills, improve their confidence and help them apply for work. It is a mix of classroom and practical activities. Find out more about the Back in Game programme.

If you want to start your own business

The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has information and support for people who want to start their own business. Find out more about the support to start your own business from North East BIC.