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PIE: Pursuing Individual Excellence

Stockport-based social enterprise

PIE is a Stockport-based social enterprise formed by ex-teacher Beth Nunn in 2017. PIE runs various programmes that aim to make sure that vulnerable young people aged 10-19 from all backgrounds feel ready and prepared for their futures.
However, since the lockdown, they have had to make lots of changes to the way they run.

Some programmes, such as the Transition project, were due to start during the lockdown but have had to be postponed. The Transition Project is a collaboration with Stockport Council’s Neighbourhood Inclusion team and Stockport County Community Foundation, and aims to help prepare Year 6 students for the move from primary school to secondary school.

The Empower programme trains around half of the previous year’s Transition students to be peer mentors for the upcoming Transition students. This would normally consist of regular meet-ups and in-person training, however this has all had to be transferred to online Zoom sessions.

“It’s been a learning curve with lots of technical difficulties,” said Beth Nunn, founder of PIE. “But we realised how much these weekly sessions meant to the kids. It’s the little things that keep them engaged, and we want to make sure that the young people have that continued connection.”

The 7 children involved with the Empower programme are now producing a podcast, entirely remotely, which has been a very exciting experience for the group. PIE have recently secured funding to adapt the format of the Zoom calls used in the Empower project to help high schools in Manchester engage with their most vulnerable students.

collection of stories, colouring pens and activities

PIE: Pursuing Individual Excellence

We are proud to be working with the council and other VCSE organisations in Stockport. And the pandemic has helped us build stronger relationships with other community groups.

Another way in which PIE have changed the way they work during the pandemic is by producing ‘learning packs’, educational packages containing crafts, colouring and reading books, stationary and other resources to keep children busy and entertained during the lockdown. This work was funded by the Stockport Local Fund coronavirus Community Support fund, which has also helped PIE to post free daily tasks online for high school aged young people, and weekly tasks for infants, which have reached students as far away as Australia!

Beth made the educational learning packs, and then collaborated with other community organisations in Stockport to distribute them to families. “We are proud to be working with the council and other VCSE organisations in Stockport. And the pandemic has helped us build stronger relationships with other community groups,” Beth said. “PIE are now utilising funding from one of their projects to fund additional spaces on Cherry Tree Project’s Fit and Fed sessions!”

However, PIE don’t only work with young people. In collaboration with Stockport organisation The Goodness Collective, they also run a programme called Wave of Change, which works with unemployed women to help them build confidence, gain digital qualifications, and learn back-to-work skills. Although this programme started before the lockdown, PIE have ensured that every woman in the programme has a point of contact and that they do regular one-to-one meetings with PIE about their progress. They also do Zoom ‘coffee and catch-ups’ every Thursday, have a Facebook group and provide online workshops to ensure the women continue to get the support they need. “It’s about providing both emotional support and identifying what kind of skills they need to get back into work,” Beth said. “To work more closely with Simone from The Goodness Collective has been really beneficial for me and for the organisation.”

Although Beth is very busy managing all these projects in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak, she is already thinking about programmes they can do to help young people post-pandemic. “There’s been lots of talk about the impacts that coronavirus will have on children’s educations, but it’s wider than that. Young people need support more now than ever, they are feeling very worried about their futures. There will be long-term implications for young people,” Beth said. There is lots to be done post-lockdown, she added, “but what’s great about Stockport is that one little thing can turn into two little things, which can turn into two big things. It’s the best place to start a VCSE organisation.”