Hidden Depths…

Do we ever really know everything about someone? Do we take the time to get to know them – or just accept the surface we see as all there is to them?

I’ve long thought we allow our assumptions about someone’s behaviour, actions, words etc to form perceptions about them without questioning what evidence we have to back this up. That doesn’t sound too fair does it?

Prince Philip is a case in point. How many formed an opinion about this individual without ever speaking to him? Taking what was reported by the press as fact? How would we feel if we were judged the same way?

As humans, we tend to judge others on their actions but ourselves on our intentions.

We make assumptions about others actions without considering what their intentions were. Does this sound fair? To me, it doesn’t. I’d hope people would check their perceptions of my intentions on any action I do was factually correct by asking me. Of course, those in the public eye can’t be approached to ask BUT we can check our thoughts and make sure we have evidence to back these thoughts up. If we don’t, shouldn’t we keep a non-judgemental open mind?

What has surprised me is the lack of coverage during Prince Philip’s lifetime of his achievements away from his ‘job’. Across different media since his death, we have learned a little more.

Amongst the nuggets of information revealed about him, was he painted and wrote 14 books. Trying to find a list of these books, I came across the 1984 publication of ‘Men Machines & Sacred Cows’ – hardback copies on Amazon for over £69 – a leap I suspect to what a copy would have cost prior to the prince’s death. This book is a collection of works focussing on science, technology and design.

The following exert is from Huffington Post’s coverage – and, for me, captures an insight to the character of Prince Philip especially his dry humour – in his own words from Men Machines & Sacred Cows…..

“Some optimists tend to assume that once you have learned the lesson that horses bite at one end and kick at the other, there is nothing further to worry about. No such luck, I’m afraid. 

“The horse is a great leveller and anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses.

“Apart from many other embarrassments there is, for instance, no more ridiculous sight than a horse performing its natural functions with someone in full dress uniform mounted on its back.”

According to a piece in the Sunday broadsheets, Prince Philip started a truffle farm on the Sandringham Estate in 2006 and was reportedly the first person to successfully grow French Perigord black truffles from British soil! Apparently, this is a big deal especially to truffle aficionados. It’s impressive to me trying to grow some chillis and squash indoors!

Various charities and individuals have spoken about how Prince Philip kept in touch with them, showing an interest in their progression long after his retirement from public life from Dame Floella Benjamin to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre shows me an integrity and empathy not shown in any press reporting prior to his death.

Talk about hidden depths.

So what thoughts has the death of Prince Philip exposed for me?

  1. Our perceptions about someone/something should be based on factual evidence not gossip, social media etc.
  2. If we can’t find the evidence to determine if our perceptions are correct, we should keep a neutral, open mind.
  3. Above all, it should be remembered everyone has hidden depths

Education – more precious than health?

It seems so to Sophie in Ghana from a report in The Sunday Times last weekend.

The report’s aim was, I think, to raise awareness of child labour in the production of gold for sale in Europe and Dubai as the picture below shows.

Sophie uses the £2.20 she earns a day to pay for her school books. I had to read that twice. In the UK, we take free education as a right. Yet we don’t always value its power. Are we too quick to exclude disruptive children without investigating and understanding what’s going on for them? Maybe families who don’t encourage their children to go to school should be supported to overcome their fears and see the value of their children having real choices and see they can access education and training if they want to.

Education enables social mobilisation, removing people from poverty enabling them to literally change their lives. Yet some of our citizens are not brought up to value and respect the offer of free education they have access to. The same offer, people like Sophie would love to have instead of risking her health to mine gold.

Equally, another thought struck me. Do we question enough where the goods we are buying comes from? Who produced them? What risks they took for a pittance? A resounding ‘no’ is the likely answer.

Shouldn’t all children have the offer of free education as an automatic right regardless of where they live? They are the future of the world. The ones that will find cures for the world’s diseases and problems. If we don’t invest in world’s children, what awaits us all?

If our children are growing up hungry – where are businesses getting their future talent from?

Listening to the radio this morning, the above question jumped into my head. I have my solution at the end of this post. What would be your thoughts?

Time for us all to have an uncomfortable conversation maybe?

The radio feature was on free school meals and the excellent spotlight the footballer Marcus Rashford has shone on this.

Children going hungry is shamefully not a new problem for the UK. Following the end of WWII, free school meals were introduced to ensure no child went hungry. Bearing in mind this was a time when food additives, were a lot less intensive than they are now. Basic, nutritional food that ensured healthy growth for all children in the UK was the norm.

Over the following years, we seemed to lose this ‘collective’ thinking that we are all responsible for the health of the next generation.

I well remember the endeavours of chef Jamie Oliver from 2004 to address putting ‘nutrition’ back into school dinners cost effectively. This would ensure concentration in lessons resulting ultimately in social mobility. Education on an empty stomach is totally non-productive and a complete waste of money. Children can’t concentrate with their stomachs rumbling. As adults, we know when we’re hungry we can think of nothing else. Why would we think it’s different for children?

The radio feature this morning spoke about Jamie’s work and the fact two of his chefs are working in Schools in Greenwich to help feed children nutritionally during school holidays.

Marcus has re-foccused the spotlight back on the need to feed vulnerable children during school holidays as parents struggle through coronavirus.

Many parents will feed their children fast foods because they are cheap. Quantity is better than quality thinking. We know fresh food doesn’t have to be expensive. It does take effort to buy and prepare especially when trying to hold down a number of poorly paid jobs to provide a secure home.

A few of ideas spring to my mind:

  1. Tax cheap, fast food so it becomes a ‘treat’ and heavily discount fresh foods so they become the norm.
  2. I know from experience many families won’t apply for help even when they are entitled. Pride gets in the way. Radical thought here – provide free school meals for every child so not one child is ‘singled’ out as being ‘poor’. From 5-18. Schools become community hubs. Open through school holidays. This would create:

a. Employment throughout the UK

b. Community cohesion

c. Brain power amongst all our children to take advantage of education, realise their dreams, become the innovators of tomorrow, feeding our businesses making the UK a vibrant country of integrity for all.

Of course there would be a huge cost for this. But, what is the cost of not doing it?

As a business owner, I’d be in favour of increased taxes if they were going to this worthwhile cause. I wonder if very wealthy people, would be willing to make annual donations to this cause and write this off against their taxes? Some people earn telephone number salaries and are reluctant to pay HMRC. No one likes paying taxes. But if part of their taxes went to a specific cause like this, would their attitude change if they could see the good they are doing?

A minority of the UK are living in a bubble where they have so much money they will never be able to spend it. Maybe social taxation could be the answer.

Maybe it’s time to do something radical and something different.

What would be your thoughts?

Harness their knowledge

Whose knowledge?  trailblazing heads like Mouhssin Ismail.  Previously a successful but unfulfilled City lawyer, Mouhssin re-trained for a career in teaching and is now Head of Newham Six Form College.  Creating a culture of empowerment and self-belief, striking up relationships with Ivy League universities Mouhssin has seen several of his students reject offers from Oxford and similar UK universities to accept offers from Harvard etc.

 

 

With the debacle of education in the UK currently, why are we not harnessing Mouhssin and his peers  to learn what they do and how they do it to empower education in all areas of the UK to nurture their students to be the absolute best they can be?  Not every student will get nor want offers to Ivy League universities but it seems clear with this level of success Mouhssin is doing something unique and valuable.

 

All students of Newham, London and the UK deserve the opportunity to grow into well rounded, empathetic human beings – how else are we going to grow generations who have the tools to not only look after themselves but those around them and deal with any future catastrophes?

Orientation Week – What Is it? What happens?

The Orientation Week is a series of workshops to boost confidence of those applicants selected by employers for a place on Growing Talent, delivering a permanent, full-time job on completion.  It’s carried out at a central London location prior to applicants going on site with their employers.

 

For the whole of 2019, we’ve carried out all speed dating events, orientation and holistic weeks are Etc Venues in Eastcheap.  Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea is provided along with fresh fruit, tea/coffee/hot chocolate, herbal teas and smoothies/orange juice with breakfast.

 

From the start of the Growing Talent journey, all participants – known as Growing Talent Associates – feel invested in and start increasing their self-esteem.  Their #YesICan attitude increases massively.

 

During the Orientation Week we have visiting professionals to share communication, art therapy and workplace choices to increase knowledge.

 

Within 10 minutes of arriving for the start of the Orientation Week, Associates are tasked with their first challenge.  To draw a set number of images about milestones in their life and then present them.  Yes, public speaking in front of strangers!  It works every time to showcase just how strong Associates are.  They start believing in themselves, not the perception of their labels.

 

During this week, Jade from CCF (Customer Care First – an excellent training company Jade started) delivers her bespoke 2 hour workshop with the Associates sharing all the nuances of communication from body language, spatial awareness, tone, emphasis etc to the topics to avoid in effective communication.

 

Daniel going to Pertemps and Tequila going to Churchill Services discuss topics that are ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ to discuss with clients…..

 

Debbie and Juliet – both going to Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster, doing the same task as Daniel and Tequila above but addressee colleagues/managers….

 

Jade and the guys above discussing the importance of tongue twisters for loosening facial muscles making it easier to speak for longer.

 

Tequila and Juliet experiencing how important communication is.  Juliet is holding a picture of a pair of boots which she has to describe to Tequila who draws what she hears.  Laughter aside, it proves the point we need to ask questions and probe to make sure we have the right information to complete our tasks at work.  As Tequila said ‘I never asked if it was a pair!’

 

The Jade’s session ended with smiles all round in the knowledge the Associates have more knowhow in communication!

 

Lesley, Head of Health, Safety & Environment at PwC always delivers her excellent ‘Zest for Life’ workshop featuring the 3Rs – Refuel, Rejuvinate and Renewal.  Knowledge, information and tips for Associates to look after themselves on the Growing Talent journey and beyond!

 

 

Lesley introduces herself and shares her journey of how she got her current role which was unplanned and totally unexpected but ended up being something she loves.

 

Explaining how humans were not designed for the predominantly desk based jobs we do now, she asked the Associates to think of their roles and come up with suggestions of a body to do their tasks adequately.  As you can see the two heads/multiple arms in the drawing below look like something of a SciFi prototype!  However, if shows we must be vigilant in taking care of ourselves so our bodies do not suffer.

 

A key thing is our body bank balance!  Things such as coffee – too much is bad but if we follow each cup of coffee with a cup of water it balances out.

 

Lesley then shared tips on nutrition, saving money by making our own lunches, batch cooking and freezing as well as top tips on relaxation and finding what works for us.

 

She then set the task of each pair of Associates thinking of three questions for the opposing pair to answer based on her workshop.

 

Tequila & Daniel devising their questions…..

 

Debbie & Juliet devising their questions for Tequila and Daniel.  I’m glad to report all gave the right answers #payingattention

 

Smiles all round as Lesley left after sharing key knowledge…..

 

Emma from Unravelling Minds attends to deliver her Art Therapy workshop and join the Associates for lunch after.

 

 

Emma shares her journey from high powered/pressurised career in fashion to complete mental health breakdown.  Art was a particular feature in her recovery and she now shares her learning with others.  Previously involved with Balloons and the Brain and now Unravelling Minds, Emma runs a unique cafe.  A safe non-clinical environment for people to bake and talk together – CBT_Cafe (Cake Before Therapy – what’s not to like!). Check out the remaining dates and information on Emma’s journey below.

 

Whilst sharing her journey, Emma invites the Associates to select one of three challenges to see how art during their lunch breaks or at any quiet time calms the mind.

  1.     Heart full of favourite things
  2.     Graffiti newspaper
  3.     Illustrate your Growing Talent mantra
  4.     Start with a doodle and see where it takes you

The concentration and quiet in the room was amazing!

Daniel’s mantra with it’s hidden message uncovered

Debbie taking up the graffiti challenge!

Juliet focussing on her favourite things.

Tequila starting off with a doodle which soon filled the page!

Juliet also shared her steps of affirmation.

Time for a group shot before an interactive lunch together.

Various workshops with me continued throughout the week ending with the Social Enterprise Challenge.  Up for grabs was £50 cash.

 

The running challenge throughout the week is to devise and deliver a social enterprise to benefit a local community and vulnerable group living there.

 

Judges l-r seated are Anna – JobCentre Plus, Judith – Churchill Services, Pedro – Head Judge from Pertemps and Shennell – Growing Talent Ambassador who completed Growing Talent on the 5th programme!

Associates standing l-r are Juliet, Tequila, Debbie & Daniel.

First to present was Debbie delivering her Brighter Futures.  Based in Wandsworth it focussed on upskilling ex-offenders by teaching them skills to refurbish a venue given by Wandsworth Council.  These skills would enable them to apply for roles with the Council in maintenance as well as FM companies.  In return the ex-offenders would share their bad choices and consequences with excluded 10-13 year olds with the target of enabling them to make the right choices.  Professionals from law, social services, medical etc would attend to help with any issues the participants experienced.  A safe space to learn, grow and become more productive.

Next to present was Daniel with his Health Hotspot based in Orpington.  Daniel described the location and need for information and choices for better health.  Many people develop intolerances to certain food groups.  Learning from others with the same intolerance on recipes, adapting ingredients etc would be hugely beneficial and break down barriers.  Equally people making choices based on media/fashion such as ‘clean’ diet, ‘sugar free’ – often includes sugar under a different name!, ‘vegan’ – how to ensure you get enough protein and so on.  Learning together builds community spirit.

Juliet’s presentation ‘Brotherhood Marching Together’ targeting the stigma within the Afro Caribbean community towards prostrate cancer using colour, music, joy and information was delivered with passion based on Juliet’s own family experience of the disease.  ‘Afro Caribbean men don’t talk about such things’. Mindful of inclusivity Juliet wanted all men in the Brixton area where she lives to be included.  So men can support men regardless of their cultural background.  Using the 02 at Brixton for the end music extravaganza, the day would start at the Museum of Black History with cancer charity specialists in place to talk about the stigma.  Affected men and their families can ask questions in a non-clinical environment.  Moving to the square where a plethora of stalls for music, food, clothes would highlight all cultures in the area breaking down barriers.  All money raised from entry fees etc would go to research.  The event would build support structures for all concerned.

Finally, Tequila shared her vision of Take Action.  A unique idea to upskill low income parents in turning their houses into homes and also making them more employable with these new skills such as painting and decorating, tiling, plumbing and so on.  Tequila shared her view that children of low income families are often introverted and don’t have a voice.  Take Action would enable the children to design their bedrooms to be their ‘space’ and give them confidence in using their voice.  Supported by local colleges and organisations like B&Q the change delivered would be lifelong and really make a different.

The judges had a tough time whittling down these great ideas to just one winner.  Who was it????

Juliet collecting her £50 prize from head judge Pedro….

Ahead of lunch with the Associates, the judges shared their journey to the current roles along with their top tips for shining at work.

 

After completing their evaluations after lunch, the Associates left to relax over the weekend ahead of starting on their employer sites.

 

Check back to see how they get on…..

BBC London People – #GreaterLondoners ……..

Really proud to be nominated to @bbclondonpeople Instagram project #greaterlondoners.

 

Although the journalist got a few things wrong, including it was an unpaid week trial I did for the accountant not paid it made me reflect on what I have achieved.  Through the Real Apprentice and its successor Growing Talent, I’ve got over 600 people into permanent full-time jobs – literally changing their lives – as they tell me.  All with barriers.  All without the confidence to secure a job the traditional route.  One of these, Shennell, nominated me for this #greaterlonder project. #proud #humble

 

I drew on my experience years later when devising the Real Apprentice which run from 2004 to 2013 and won multiple awards including the best of Europe to Growing Talent – 2014-Present.

 

It’s amazing the difference we can make to others without realising the impact we make.  I’m guilty of not reflecting on what I do enough.  I believe most of us don’t reflect on our actions and affirm just how great we are!

 

Take time to nurture yourself.

Check out the feature below:  

Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking – What I’ve learnt….

Today I did an online two hour course by High Speed Training – and thankfully passed!

 

The modules were broken down into clear, informative parts for the lay person.  We all make assumptions about terms such as ‘Modern Slavery’ ‘Trafficking’ ‘Exploitation’.  The misconception is this goes on in hidden areas – not in our circles.  However, key industries these issues have been found in include hospitality, fishing, factory work, food processing, leaflet delivery, tarmac, paving, agriculture, cannabis farms (these are in residential houses), domestic servitude, sex industry and criminal gangs – ATM thefts etc.

 

In 2000 the UN met in Palermo, Italy to agree three protocols.  Clearly 18 years later, the problem is still there.  So learning some possible signs and what agencies to involve has got to be a good thing.  Knowledge is power after all.

 

Learning about the tools used by traffickers, including religious beliefs, has been an eye opener.  Equally understanding and supporting someone who has experienced any kind of trauma/abuse can be misunderstood as lying due to not always being able to recall events easily or in the right order.  We must remember trauma interferes with this process – people aren’t always lying.

 

Let’s not assume.

 

If you are interested in doing this online course check out http://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk.

 

 

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