Chef Omari

Flicking through the papers this weekend, I came across this fabulous story within the cooking section.

In my view, it should be front page news – uplifting, encouraging children they are never too young to achieve and oozes the thought they do not need to be held back by any ‘labels’!

Omari wants to be the ‘next Gordon Ramsey without the meat or swearing’.

Home schooled because his teachers brandied Omari an ‘underachiever’ who could not do his SATS because he has Dyslexia, Omari’s interest in vegan cooking took off. He has a cook book due for release in January 2021, his own TV show ‘What’s Cooking Omari’ and his own brand of dips.

What an achiever! I hope the teachers who told Omari he was an ‘under achiever’ will realise their mistake and start seeing the individual talent within every child – which will not always be academic but just as valuable if not more so.

Check out What’s Cooking Omari – CBBC 9.30am on Sundays and BBC iPlayer.

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?

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…..

New look Growing Talent is open!

To mark our 5th anniversary in February 2019 of our planned one-off pilot in 2014, we have streamlined the framework of Growing Talent.

 

It retains all the core elements including selection without cvs, provisional permanent job offer upfront on selection by an employer, orientation week before going on site, a total of four weeks training in the vacant role and a holistic week during which life skills including personal finance, fitness, nutrition on a budget and qualification as a mental health first aider.  So what has changed? instead of 12 weeks, it’s now six weeks long.  All parts have to be completed.  There is no uncertainty when someone will be employed.

 

This will deliver transparency for employers, participants and those referring them.  Provision has been put in place to enable an extension based on individual circumstances and only by agreement with all parties.  Equally, those going into roles requiring minimum training, such as barista, will be employed after the orientation week and return for the mental health first aider qualification on the holistic week – again, by arrangement.

 

This year we move to a new training venue – etc venues – away from Southwark Cathedral.  As a public venue the facilities at the Cathedral were not appropriate.

 

Those selected by employers – known as Growing Talent Associates – will enjoy a breakfast, choice of lunches, afternoon tea plus unlimited refreshments throughout the day.  This investment should return commitment and focus thereby pushing numbers up of those going into work.

 

Diverse employers took part in 2018 including Ballymore, Connect Plus Services M25, Acuity Services, Portico, MitieTDM, Pertemps, Harris & Hoole, Scotscape, ME Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, Harrow Green & many more.

 

Some great life changing stories lie ahead no doubt………

Growing Talent’s Holistic Week…….

The definition of ‘holistic’ aptly fits what we cover on Growing Talent’s Holistic Week……. Dealing with the mind as well as the body delivers lifelong learning and empowerment.

 

18-23 June inclusive saw our return to Southwark Cathedral for this element of the Growing Talent programme.  We generally start with the two day Mental Health First Aider course which delivers a qualification.  An intense two days of growth in how we see mental health.  This time we were joined by Sirio an employer from Ballymore.  The MHFA is so thick, the guys get a gym workout by default – who needs weights!

 

‘I think it was very informative and raises awareness on the importance of our mental health’

 

‘I felt confident in my knowledge of mental health before the course but I had no idea how to deal with it.  I do now!’

 

After an intense couple of days, we relaxed a little with ‘fun learning’.  In Everyday Finance we cover amongst other things bank accounts, standing orders, direct debit, credit and debit cards, debt management, the power of money, saving and basic investing options – generally how to make the most of our money.

 

‘This workshop made me more penny conscious!’  ‘It made me challenge the way I currently bank’.

 

Just as putting the right petrol in a car is key to it’s efficient running, so is eating/drinking the right things for us humans!  Kate from HBN (Health Bites Nutrition) shared some myth busting knowledge as well as healthy swaps and eating nutritionally on a budget.  The practical was making a healthy pot noodle which the guys reported on the following day as being great and something they would repeat.  Shae even said she might reduce her visits to the chicken shop!!!

 

 

A curve ball on the Holistic Week is always the Art project.  The guys have to agree on which art gallery they will visit – The Tate Modern or The National.  Armed with their project sheet, they pick a piece which ‘speaks to them’.  Either love it or hate it.  They then have to ask a series of questions and bring their completed sheet in the following day.  The purpose of this is to make everyone make use of these free institutions we’re lucky to have in London.  By asking questions whilst looking at exhibitions, it makes appreciation easier and effectively reduces stress levels without even realising it!  Although there was some hesitancy at the start, all the guys enjoyed this exercise…..

 

 

‘It wasn’t something I’d choose to do but it was a new experience.  I enjoyed it.  Art is a tool to de-stress’.

 

‘I haven’t visited an art gallery for years.  I liked this visit and it made we realise my appetite for art is maturing and growing.  I found the drawing exercises therapeutic and will use my drawing kit as an escape from my work life’.

 

Next time you think of grabbing a quick bite at your desk, why not grab a quick bite outside with a pad and pencil.  Just drawing what you see is a great de-stresser, reboots your energy levels and makes you way more productive in the afternoon.  Why not try it?

 

 

Solution to all problems……

How often do you hear ‘you’ll feel better after a strong cup of tea’? or ‘cup of tea with plenty of sugar – it’s good for the shock’……

 

Whatever situation we are going through, a cup of tea is thought to ease the way.

 

So, a pretty sobering piece in The Metro this morning!  ……… which published findings ‘office teabags have 17 times more germs than a loo seat’

 

When you consider that statement remember office teabags are usually stored in an open jar which everyone can help themselves to.  How many times have you been in the toilets at work and seen people come out of a cubicle and leave the area without washing their hands…………. then they make a cup of team – ouch!

 

I can see how the findings could be right – what do you think?

 

Maybe think twice before accepting that cuppa!  Better still, bring your own cup and T-Bags in!

Affirmation you are doing ok!…….

The best part of running Growing Talent is to see the growth in Associates on the journey.  So my favourite part is reading their evaluations at the end of the Orientation Week.

 

This is carried out prior to them going on site and is intended to boost self-esteem and give guidance on communication in the workplace etc.

 

So what did they learn?

‘I am positive in the eyes of others as well as myself’

‘That I still have the fight and strength within to achieve any goal I aim for’

‘I can be more confident than I thought I could be’

‘That I am capable of more’

‘I REALLY love recycling’

‘It’s ok to be afraid, it’s how you overcome that obstacle’

‘I can do it!’

‘I  learnt I am pretty well spoken and ow to be a little more confident’

‘I’m stronger than I thought’

‘Determination has set in’

‘I can do things I never thought possible’

‘Yes I can do anything with a bit of motivation’

‘It made me a better person and how to deal with things better’

‘I can meet new people and enjoy time spent with they’.

 

Having written and deliver Growing Talent, I’m not complacent to believe I do everything right.  I include a section on me as a trainer on the Associates end evaluation forms just to keep me on my toes and effective…… What did you think of Jane James, the trainer?

 

‘Great guide, really clear and helpful’

‘Hardworking, caring, 100% behind all of growing talent associates, very good at her role’

‘Jane is very helpful and insightful but also nice to talk to about anything that’s bothering us’

‘Very helpful and knowledgeable’

‘Brilliant, nurturing, encouraging – an amazing mentor’

‘Brilliant mentor and very inspiring’

‘Fantastic!’

‘Jane has been huge help and I feel very comfortable with telling her about any difficulties.  She has been very supportive’.

‘Lovely, strong, supporting lady.  Would love to be kept in contact with her for many years’.

‘A bundle of information, knowledge & strength’

‘Such an inspiration – amazing!’

 

It’s good to know from those we work with how we are doing.  Why not try giving those you work with an evaluation on you?

Holistic Week – Growing Talent…..

This is the ‘soft skills’ section of Growing Talent’s 12 week programme.  Usually carried out halfway through.  It’s a time for the Growing Talent Associates to meet up again and encourage each other face-to-face as well as learn some wellbeing techniques and ‘kick back’ a little from their usual work timetable!

 

We returned to Southwark Cathedral were we held the Orientation Week back in early February!  At least no more presentations before senior managers!

So what did we cover?:

Monday – parts 1 & s of Mental Health First Aid – a global course resulting in a qualification as a MHFAider.  This is an intense four part global programme so we lightened the learning a little with Lesley’s 3Rs!

 

Lesley, seen above, is part of the Health & Safety team at PwC.  Her 3Rs are Refuel, Recycle and  Refresh. It’s all about what to eat, how much sleep, exercise all the usual things we need to consider when making choices.  It’s especially difficult doing this on a strict budget!

‘I got a lot of information which I’ll put into practice!’ ‘Another important segment that allowed growth within the unknown.’

Tuesday – saw parts 3 and 4 of the MHFA programme be completed.  This time, Healthy Bites  Nutrition was sandwiched  between the two sections.  This invaluable workshop by Kate from HBN (www.hbnutrition.org) dispels myths around diets, the latest fads and new guidelines – such as only 7 tsp of sugar a day.  Kate shares the cost savings in making your own food, cost comparison and ingredients as well as how to eat quickly prepared nutritious meals on a budget!

 

Kate below preparing the Associates for making their own Pot Noodle!

 

A good workshop for sustaining health both in and out of work” ” I know what food groups are now!’

 

Sharing why recycling waste is so important was Dan from Suez, on the left below, on Wednesday.  This got everyone thinking.  A quick roundtable showed the difference between residential recycling across boroughs.  Indeed one of the Associates who has never recycled was inspired to go through her bins!

 

 

Thursday we talked finance.  Covering the basics we should know around debt, regular payments budgets, and so on. It’s surprising how well received this workshop is but on reflection maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising.  After all, where do you learn this stuff if you don’t have supportive, informed parents? Does the Education system have the time to do this?

 

‘The 3 x thirds will be really useful’, ‘I learnt about saving money and ISAs – really useful when we start earning’, ‘this was the most important topic covered for me’ ‘I learnt how to plan ahead’ ‘One million % worth it.  I understand now how to be financially stable.’

In the afternoon it was off to do an Art project!  Terrifying for some!  Their task was to visit Tate Gallery in Bankside and select an item that ‘spoke’ to them.  This could be in a good or bad way.

 

Left to right above inside the Tate are Mokhtar, Leon, Zainab, Ilamathy, Stefan, Ashley, Sebastien & John.

 

Friday morning we had a good discussion on their visit to the Tate, why they selected their piece of art and what they would ask the artist……… then they had to draw it!  You can see the results in the feature photo.  So much laughter in the room.  For some it ignited a childhood love of drawing for others it opened their eyes to a possible new creative way to feed their soul during lunchtime break and outside of work.

 

After some paperwork we finished up the week at lunchtime.They guys presented me with a lovely gift before going home for a well deserved break!

 

On Monday they returned to their employer sites:  Zainab, Ashley & Mokhtar – Harrow Green, Craig, John & Ashling – Iron Mountain – Ashling had to work this week, Leon – Pertemps, Ilamathy – Red Personnel, Stefan – Mitie Connect and Sebastien at Invest In Buy To Let.

 

Pick a colour!……..

Whilst surfing the Internet, I came across this great ‘colour chart’ for vegetables.

 

It’s the first I’ve seen that not only give you the calories, all the vitamins/minerals contained by ideas on how to eat them as well.

 

Easy to carry around, I will definitely be using this in my holistic week of Growing Talent as well as my own weekly shop!

 

Why not try using it too and see if there is a positive impact on you!

GROWING TALENT – BUMPER CROP!

eMPLOYERS SELECTION

Growing Talent 7 kicked on with an initial assessment on 24 August for close to 70 people followed by the Employers’ Selection day on 26 August – snapshot of the action above!

After two full-on days, 18 people were selected to take part in Growing Talent – our biggest complement yet.

Amongst the employers there were:

Trev and sharon

Harrow Green represented by Trev & Sharon

Jamie and team

Jamie & the team from Pertemps

Portico

Julie & Martin from Portico before Parissa joined them

Invest In Buy To Let, Baxter Storey and Wilson James were also ‘speed interviewing’!

With different assessments at each table, nerves were soon replaced by laughter!  This is a great way to see personalities and outlooks.

After a tough decision making process, the employers selected their Growing Talent Associates.  All 18 commenced the Orientation Week on Tuesday 1 September with workshops, challenges, case studies were undertaken to hone communication and team player skills.

This culminated with a presentation of a Social Enterprise ideas before a panel of judges.  10 well thought out ideas to benefit a community, be easily managed and generate a revenue stream – a tall order!  You can see the guys with the judges in the feature photo.

Ideas included:

Aquaponics – taking over a disused building to grow food responsibly

Online Over 60s a tutorial club to engage this group with technology especially Skype

Bake-off – A quarterly community competition to learn how to make healthy cakes

Artsation – using art therapy for wellbeing

Game Changer – elected overall winner!  An idea by Jerome on using game platforms starting in the Middle Ages to current date.  However, resources deplete – how do we use them efficiently?

All are now on site learning their future roles within the employer’s businesses.  In some cases, Growing Talent Associates are working alongside and being mentored by previous Associates – so a lot of support going on!

These 18 are due to complete on 20 November and join the 45 others that have secured their permanent roles through Growing Talent ready for the Graduation ceremony on 26 November!

My work devising, developing and delivering Growing Talent has seen PwC I&P shortlisted for a Personnel Today award:

Finalist_AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN RECRUITMENT

Amazingly, Jane James Consultancy Limited has also been shortlisted in another category:

Personnel Today

Winners will be announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 30 November 2015.

Watch this space…………………………………!

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