Are our rights more important than our duty to others?

This is a thought that’s been resonating with me with growing repetition during the journey of the global pandemic here in the UK.

It seems to me humankind has become more and more inward rather than outward looking over the years.

As the restrictions enforced by the pandemic have continued, the more amplified our disregard for our duty to others seems to have grown.

By that I mean consideration of the potential consequences our actions can have on others.

Each week, local small patches of council green areas outside residential houses are scattered with litter comprising fast food wrappers but lately discarded alcohol bottles. I haven’t seen people having picnics on these areas so assume it’s household fly tipping by residents, or people returning from fun in the park with their friends.

Why? Each household in the UK has rubbish collection weekly. There is no need to spoil the environment for others through laziness and/or entitlement. If there is no public rubbish bin locally, or if there is one, it’s full – why can’t people take their rubbish home and put it in for their rubbish collection?

I don’t doubt this is happening in every part of the UK.

Clearly the thought of the right to personal enjoyment of the individuals dropping these items far outweighs any thought of their impact on others. Children play on these small greens. Pet dogs are taken for walks by their owners. Residents look at these green spaces from their windows – vital when housebound or shielding. Where is the thought for the impact on others – the anxiety and isolation caused by thoughtless, ‘my right’ attitudes?

We see this time and again on a larger scale when the sun is shining in the debris left behind in parks and at coastal spots. There is a huge cost in clearly this up.

We know the dangers to the environment of discarded rubbish which has been proven to get into our water tables and food chains. By discarding rubbish thoughtlessly instead of taking it home, those individuals are potentially affecting their health and that of the ones they love. Ironic isn’t it?

Isn’t now the time to start to think of our duty to consider the impact of our behaviours on others?

Are employers solidifying employees’ fears?

The BBC News online featured a piece from the PCS (Public & Commercial Services) union today whose research suggest the majority of JobCentre Plus staff fear returning to their offices. Out of 1,299 members the PCS surveyed, their results shared showed 3 in 5 workers want to continue working at home and are fearful of returning to the workplace due to Covid.

PCS claim they should be allowed to continue to work from home as they’ve proved this is effective during Covid restrictions. Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS union warned industrial action could follow.

The fear of returning to the workplace after so long working from home or on furlough during Covid will be many employees’ fears and this is something their employers need to address BEFORE they are asked to return.

There is so much fake news on social media and possibly amongst friends, families and community leaders. Add in the continuous illogical updates from Government, it becomes completely understandable the fear that can be brewing. Trouble is, this fear and be intrusive and longterm.

We all know facing our fears are the only way to conquer them. If we give in to this, anxiety, isolation, debilitation will grow and possibly cripple individuals, business and communities.

As individuals we have to find evidence from experts we trust to enable us to make decisions and resist listening to opinions/views of non-experts.

JobCentre Plus staff do a difficult job supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. If they go on strike, what happens to those in dire circumstances?

If Employers don’t support their employees to overcome their fears and gain confidence to living their lives to the full again – what happens to those employees? Remember not every person has gone through the pandemic living in a nice, safe home, in happy, nurturing relationships. For the majority, it’s been one of the hardest, loneliest periods of their lives.

Business is a core part of our lives and communities. If businesses aren’t flourishing, growing and employing people, taxes aren’t being paid to support the vulnerable, provide healthcare, education etc. Where will the money for these come from?

For many businesses, continued working from home for their employees won’t be tenable. If work can be done from home, might some employers start to ask why can’t it be outsourced overseas to a cheaper workforce?

Giving in to fear is not an option. As actor Will Smith said some time ago –

“Success lies on the other side of fear”

What say you?

Making a positive difference when you don’t even know it….

Earlier this week I was contacted by someone who had been selected to take part in Growing Talent in 2019.  Growing Talent is an employment empowerment programme I run, which has been on hold since March 2020 due to Covid (www.growing-talent.co.uk).  

At the time they had many personal pressures to deal with which had reduced their self-confidence to an all-time low whilst greatly increasing their anxiety – exhausting as we all know.

They worked hard to complete the Orientation Week – confidence building workshops – prior to going on the employer’s site working well with their peers on team and individual challenges.  Gradually shoots of growing self-confidence started to appear.  More importantly, a smile returned to their face.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t maintain the routine of work back in 2019 and left before completing the programme.  This made their contact this week even more thought provoking.

They have been a carer for over a year working extensive shifts caring for the vulnerable is tough enough for anyone let alone doing this role in the middle of a global pandemic.  The people this person supports all have varying stages of dementia – challenging for individuals, family, friends and carers.

Finding the strength to make decisions and changes in their personal life took massive courage.  With everything going on, they still put others first and decided to move into the care home to support their peers and residents as much as possible.  Unfortunately, they got Covid themselves and had to self-isolate.  Now the residential care home is currently Covid free – a big relief for all.

As I’m reading all of this information they sent, my pride and admiration swelled.  Their growth from 2019 to now is inspirational.  The reason they wanted to get in touch now was to not only share their journey but thank me for my teachings.

Anyway, my point is, that, no way could I have gotten through the turmoil of Covid in a Dementia Care home and self-loathing induced by personal pressures if it hadn’t been for your teachings and even that week of lessons really in prep for growing talent. Thank you for the lessons, thank you for the courage and the self-belief you instilled in me, before I could really believe in myself’.

As a trainer/facilitator passionate about encouraging people and businesses to be the best they can, I often wonder about those who aren’t ready to move forward.  I know see, even instilling a short time of self-belief and proactive personal nurturing makes a difference to them long term.

What’s the point in sharing this with you?  To share we may not always know the outcome of something we do – that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful and positive.

Never stop trying to do what you know is right.  You are having a bigger, positive impact than you may realise.

A lesson from Sicily?

I firmly believe there have been many positives to the global pandemic as well as the many well known negatives.

The world has learned a lot from each other sharing knowledge, information, research as well as stats and their process of handling infection rates. This collaboration has produced two vaccines cleared for rollout as well as India’s home produced vaccine about to be rolled out in India.

Whilst there is still a long way to go until the pandemic is managed via immunisation, I wonder if Governments will learn from the collaboration to date and continue with this going forward. Think of the positive changes that could be made.

Watching the Focus item on French 24 tv this morning, I wondered if the changes Italy is going through is something we can learn from in the UK on ‘levelling up’ areas of deprivation and past industries such as our mining towns, coastal resorts, previous manufacturing areas and so on.

Sicily experienced decades of young people leaving to work in the more prosperous North leaving. behind a growing older population and economic degeneration.

Focus explained the pandemic saw many younger people who had migrated to the North for work, returned to their parental homes in the South at the start of the pandemic. Working from co-working hubs socially distanced with fast fibre internet connection, they can work as well as if they were in their office in the North.

What they’ve noticed is the economic regeneration locally. Municipalities are rolling out fibre optic networks in their best locations to entice this positive change to become permanent. One featured a ceramic museum which now has the dual purpose of being a co-working space with fast internet and great views across to the Aeolin Islands. The quality of life for these young people has increased, there is no ‘brain drain’, older generations have their families around them and local businesses are experiencing regeneration.

The North of Italy will continue as a buoyant business hub with offices thriving after the pandemic is over. But they are aware the benefits presented by the pandemic will be permanent – a true ‘levelling-up’ of the country.

The UK has spent a lot of money because of the pandemic. Surely it’s vital to spend a little more to invest in fast internet across the UK to not only enable people to work anywhere, if their job supports remote working, but also ensure every child has access to technology to enable them to develop their careers of the future.

We have seen pockets of the UK experience decades of deprivation as businesses/industries have closed with nothing replacing them. The below picture is typical of a lot of towns left behind when businesses/industries closed or moved. We see many high streets have lost their vibes as big chains moved in and now those big chains are failing. Many high streets over the decades has lost their independent stores to large chains, pubs and betting shops.

Isn’t this an ideal time to turn the tide?

What could these communities look like with the right investment?

Inspiring….

Despite Growing Talent, an inclusive employment programme I run, being on hold due to the pandemic, it’s always lovely to catch-up with some of the people who have participated over the years on how they are doing especially now.

Amongst the doom and gloom, uncertainty and insecurity the global pandemic has spread, some heart warming news!

Catching up with Jane, Debbie & Sharlene from past Growing Talent programmes, it was great to see their ignited self-belief and drive for personal growth has not been diminished by the challenges presented by Coronavirus.

Jane updated me on her current role. Still with Baxter Storey, who she joined on completion of Growing Talent 4, but now at a different account, she decided to use some of her personal time volunteering in her local community to help young people. Despite the application and joining process – rightly thorough screening – Jane is determined to support and encourage those that need it. Just as enthused as she was at the start of her journey all those years ago, it was a joy to learn how well she’s doing.

Debbie contacted me to share she had made it into print! Yes, her Christmas jumper, almost as bright as her smile, lights up the PwC welcome floor in the Welcome Team’s newsletter to raise money for charity on the annual ‘Christmas Jumper Day! Despite a challenging year – more so for Debbie who loves her intrepid travelling to far flung places, Debbie has also just won a new internal role after being interviewed by a Partner at PwC! Fearless as a lion and always up for a challenge – Go Debbie!

Just this week I learned Sharlene had come full circle. After completing Growing Talent in 2019 she joined a national facilities company in their facilities administration team. Unfortunately, like so many, Sharlene was made redundant earlier this year. Did she retreat into herself? Of course not! She moved house and got a job with Department of Work and Pensions as a Work Coach encouraging unemployed people to find the right role for them – and hopefully referring some to Growing Talent once the pandemic is over!

I am always in awe of the spirit, determination, innovative, empathetic DNA of the amazing people I work with on Growing Talent.

I know the next chapter for Jane, Debbie & Sharlene is going to be amazing because they will make it so.

For more information on Growing Talent check out – http://www.growing-talent.co.uk

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?

Growing Talent 25 has completed…… bring on GT26!

In January, we started off with 40 enthused, unemployed people applying for Growing Talent.  Following the Employer Speed Dating held mid-January, 15 were selected by employers for a 1-2-1 second stage meeting.  Offers were made, some rejected so we commenced Growing Talent 25 with three participants from diverse backgrounds who all shared one thing in common – they wanted to work!

 

Michelle & Tara from PwC joined the session and selected Annarita , below, to join them!

This is a big departure for Annarita.  Following a background in textile design she is now part of PwC’s secretarial community.

 

Kate – a regular recruiter on Growing Talent – from Firmdale Hotels, selected Kerry to join their Haymarket hotel within the housekeeping team.  Kerry is loving the role and already got her eye on progression not to mention the staff perks!

 

Annarita & Kerry – trained first aiders in Mental Health during the holistic part of Growing Talent.

 

Lastly, Sergio and Lina from ISS selected Nazzarriey to join their waste and segregation team.  Naazzaariey – seen below with Kerry is getting used to the routine of working and planning things she can do with her wages….

 

 

We wish them well on their adventures ahead now they have a regular salary coming in…..

Highlights of their journey include:

Awaiting feedback on their excellent Social Enterprise presentation and more importantly the winner!

 

Emma from Unravelling Minds showing how art helps with wellbeing….

 

Lesley mid-flow delivering her 3Rs – techniques for staying healthy in the workplace.

 

This is one of the few times Growing Talent has experienced 100% who started completed and went into work!  Great outcome for all…

 

What does the road ahead hold for them? who knows – but that’s part of the excitement of life – right?

The 26th programme starts in March…. watch this space!

 

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.

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