Fighting on…………..

Like most people at this time of year, I’ve been hit by the dreaded ‘bad cold’ – as if there was a good version?  Why is it this common germ has the power to reduce us to shivering wrecks?  After ‘plenty of fluids and rest’ I’m now back to 80% capacity.  which is just as well – I have site visits next week.

The Growing Talent Associates are thriving.  I’m hearing nothing but good things from their managers.  Above and beyond support including Daoud who sprained his ankle over the weekend but still managed to get to and stay at work on Monday! The power of mind over matter – puts my cold into touch!

The Latimer Vibe part of Growing Talent is just over a week away – yikes!  Health Nutrition Bites are booked to do their workshop on healthy lunches, energising snacks, the manager is booked to deliver the personal finance workshop and the H&S expert is primed to deliver – fitness without the gym.  Leaving me to deliver the two day mental health first aid certificate course and wellbeing workshops.  Although exhausting, this is my favourite part of Growing Talent.  All the Associates come back together for the first times since the Orientation Week to share their experiences and support each other.

The website seems to be running well although we do need to get more exposure.  A meeting with the media team tomorrow should help!

Monday morning blues – no way!

So yesterday was day one of the operational section of the Growing Talent Associates journey.  I think I was more nervous than the Associates!  Like a new mum at the school gates waiting to see if their child liked their first day at school!

Would the Associates like their sites, teams and employers?  Would they have the ‘Monday morning blues’?  Of course not!  What was I thinking.

7am dawned with a text from Joshua ‘just wanted to say a big thank you for this opportunity, because it feels good to finally wake to go to work on a Monday morning’.  This made me realise just how much, those of us with paid employment, take our jobs for granted and what a huge impact on someone’s self-esteem when they aren’t working.

Later in the day I had a meeting with Rosie on the elements of social media I didn’t even know existed, let alone thought about.  ‘Linking strategies’, ‘Rule of Thirds’, ‘Tweet Rules’, ‘Google Analytics’ the list goes on!

With my mind reeling from so much information, I had a lovely chat with Daoud on his first day with Harrow Green – all good!

Mitchell popped in mid-morning to receive his trophy from Jon Barnes here at PwC’s offices.  Mitchell was part of A Better Place – the winning idea from Friday’s Social Enterprise ideas.  Due to a long standing volunteering engagement Mitchell couldn’t be present but his hard work supporting and collaborating with his team mates – Sinead, Joshua and Michael didn’t go unrecognised!

Mitchell and Jon

Following my final minute taking duties for the Energy Team i ended the day reflecting on what a fab Monday it had been!

A triumph – Friday 6 February


The final day of the Orientation Week – 4th generation dawned with some trepidation from the Growing Talent Associates.  After preparation, planning, run through after run through the Social Enterprise Judging Panel had arrived!


Coffee and adrenaline flowed as did the nerves and bravado! at 10am the judges started to arrive – Jon Barnes – PwC, Simon Pratt – Portico, Greg Bramwell – Baxter Storey, Chloe Crudgington – Iron Mountain, Patti Sidhu – Pertemps and Jo Gadian – JCP.  Armed with score sheets, questions and feedback, the panel listed intently to the three ideas:


A Better Place was the first to go.  Sinead, Michael and Joshua delivered a sensitive presentation on rape and the social stigma for all involved.  Next up was Growing Hope a knit of ideas based on the individual interests of Maxine – allotments, Daoud – football coaching, Jessica – dance classes for all ages and abilities and Selwyn in charge of transport.  The third presentation by Kit, Jane, Courtney and Kaith was to develop a unified bike scheme in Ealing.


The panel had five minutes to decide the winning idea – but took over 20 – such was the calibre!  Finally A Better Place was announced as the overall winner and Jon presented silver cups to team members.


winners 2


Some judges comments taken from their score sheets include:  ‘engaged immediately- great presentation’, ‘professional and passionate’, ‘great team support for each other’.  To think the Growing Talent Associates had only known each other for a few short days!


Comments from the Associates themselves reflecting on Growing Talent so far:

‘Job seeking really knocks your confidence, so this is a great way to build people up again and make them feel worthy of work’

‘I am very happy to be on this programme, I feel very positive about the future’


‘Great scheme’

‘I hope it continues’

‘Thank you for this great opportunity’

‘This scheme is brilliant – it helps us gain confidence’

‘Fantastic organisation and inspiring Growing Talent should replace all JobCentres’

‘This scheme has helped me and I know it has helped others’

‘This is a fantastic experience.  It’s a really good way of gaining confidence and getting doors open for the future which we don’t usually believe can happen.’

Growing Talent – The Fourth Generation…………

January 23rd saw 67 applicants take part in initial screening and assessment tasks with employers to secure one of the places on Growing Talent.

With a final total of 20 jobs for drivers, administrators, catering and hospitality assistants to services solution operatives and recruitment resourcers across London and Basildon – the heat was on!

You would assume something like this would be intense and cause nerves.  The opposite was true!  Applicants had the time to let their true personalities shine through, have a laugh and get to know other people in the same unemployed position as them.

The employers leading the assessment had a tough job but eventually managed to select 47 to go forward to the final stage on 26 January.  Some employers were taking part for the first time.  Hesitant on how to select people for their roles in the knowledge that if the guys completed the job was theirs and they would join their companies.  Trying to find those ‘rough’ gems they thought would be hard.

Actually, it was easy.  There was so much talent in the room and when you see people having fun and being themselves – not putting on a mask for a short interview – matching is quite natural.

The biggest problem was some employers chose the same candidate!  What it is to be wanted – a great boost to the ego!  Some chose not to select alternative candidates so 12 went forward to the Orientation Week.

Today is Day 2.  Yesterday accomplished a lot.  All 12, from ages ranging from late teens up to the mid-fifties, worked well together breaking down some of those misconceptions we all have about people.  They had to do presentations on each other within 20 minutes of walking into the room – talk about pressure!

Three course lunch was amazing – and a welcome change from cheese sandwiches!!!

They entered the room pretty much as strangers, but left with the seeds of camaraderie growing!

What will today bring……