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

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…..

What self-belief can do…… inspirational!

I’m not usually one to read the sports pages but sitting on the train this morning I flicked through the Metro and saw the excellent feature on Khadijah Mellah who won a charity race yesterday at Glorious Goodwood!

 

The 18 year old learnt to ride at a local stable in Brixton but only sat on a race horse two months ago.

 

Breaking all barriers, perceptions and assumptions, Khadijah said in the report ‘I definitely want to keep going – I’ve loved every second.  It’s been a whirlwind……Ambitious women can make it – that is what I want to represent’.

 

I think she’s achieved the status of showing every human being they can achieve want they want with self-belief, determination and encouragement.

 

Now, shouldn’t this have been front page news?

Mental Health – when do we start teaching it?

The conversation has been getting bolder and louder over the part decade or so on Mental Health.  Businesses are now putting in place some training around starting and managing a conversation when a change is noticed.  We know a lot about self-care and the importance of observing our self-care techniques as ‘non-negotiable’.

 

However, with the report published below, we can see how earlier intervention is essential. Check out the link below… the stats are shameful.

 

https://news.sky.com/story/teachers-to-work-with-nhs-to-support-mental-health-of-young-people-in-schools-11761403

 

1 in 9 of children in full-time education aged 5 to 15  has a diagnosable mental health condition.  Maybe read that again.

 

In 2017 there were 226 recorded suicides of people in full-time education including primary schools.  Again – shocking.

 

We know education about road safety has reduced road deaths.  We know regular brushing of our teeth reduces teeth decay.  We start learning these things at home before we’ve event gone to school.

 

Shouldn’t parents be talking openly to their children about feelings, kindness to others, it’s ok not to feel ok and it’s a strength to alway talk about our feelings?  Surely this would start to normalise mental health.

 

Of course not every parent is equipped to provide this guidance.

 

Schools have a lot on their curriculum.  Considering the huge cost to society, business, NHS, communities, families etc, isn’t it now worth making part of Ofsted’s school inspection look at the provision of mental health resources in our schools to nourish the future generations making them more robust in dealing with life issues?

 

The earlier the intervention the better the recovery.

 

Do we make a difference now or wait for the time bomb to stop ticking and just explode?

 

The end of the road…………

Today is the final day of Growing Talent 21.  Nine of the 13 who started the journey have completed and secured their permanent roles.

 

Their true grit and determination has paid off.

 

Congratulations and respect to:

 

Amar – joined MitieTDM – Specialist Internal Firm Services

Bernie -joined MitieTDM – Specialist Internal Firm Services

Navin -joined MitieTDM – Specialist Internal Firm Services

Kelly – joined Melia White House Hotel

Heavenly – joined Firmdale Hotel

Robert – joined Firmdale Hotel – initially as Kitchen Porter but his performance saw him start as Commis Chef

Natasha – joined Firmdale Hotel

Charlie-Ray – joined Portico at PwC

Katrina – joined Portico at PwC

 

We wish them all well in their careers ahead………………

 

 

Everything in balance…………

Isn’t life strange?  Following a trying period when everything was going wrong and I least expected it, a number of great things happened.

 

I almost thought I’d have to cancel the Holistic Week entirely for Growing Talent as there was only one person left on it!  The rest had gone into work early.  But then the employer of two of the guys agreed to let them attend for the MHFA course and a couple of managers joined us.  It went ahead and was great fun…

 

Especially great to see the feedback on my personal delivery ……

 

‘Jane delivered in an engaging thought providing and accessible way.  She was excellent!’

 

Then I had notification from Shennell on Growing Talent 6 who had nominated me for a Mayor of London Award as an Amazing Woman – what an accolade.

 

Finally a message on Linkedin from Norma who was on The Real Apprentice programme I ran previously.  She was on the programme back in  2011. She was writing to tell me that following my advice and guidance she did go to Birkbeck University and graduated!  A massive achievement from where she was.

 

It’s uplifting to know I’ve made a difference.  We all need to know when we’ve done a great job so never miss an opportunity to thank people and tell them what a difference they’ve made to you.  Not only will it make them feel great, you will too!

 

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?

 

 

8 months – what a transformation…..

Whilst in the London office, I bumped into Phil – one of the Mitie managers in Service Solutions – seen on the right with Jamie ex-Growing Talent Associate.

 

Phil selected Jamie in July 2017 on the 13th programme.  Jamie had never held a permanent, full-time role but had a strong work ethic.  He was really confident at home and with friends, but it was a different story in the corporate glass building that  he would be based in.

 

Jamie picked up the role really quickly.  He has been so supportive of his team from day 1 that when it came to the annual Graduation in December, Jamie didn’t stick around for the adulation and photos.  He wanted to get back to his team as they were so busy with the Christmas rush!

 

Today, I bumped into Phil who gave a glowing report on Jamie. ‘He always works late if necessary, supports the team and even covered two departments on his own.  He really is up there with the great personalities  we’ve had on Growing Talent’.

 

It’s lovely to hear how well everyone continues to do.  Jamie truly is a fab role model for others to follow.

Social Mobility – What is it exactly?

I was thinking about this the other day.  Maybe my definition is different to others….

 

So what prompted this thought?  I’d been invited by a global financial services organisation with a multi £bn turnover and global presence to share my work with their Social Mobility team.

 

During this meeting I explained how I devised and run Growing Talent which has got over 120 people from the ranks of the unemployed into permanent jobs which they have flourished in.  Over four years, many have returned to encourage those following them and shared how much Growing Talent had changed their lives.  Some have started their own business.

 

I gave many examples from graduates who had no direction, self belief nor understanding of what the world of employment looked like to people like Richard – mid 30s, never worked – who not only completed the programme but has been employed for over two years now.

 

People on Growing Talent come from all social backgrounds including the homeless, single parents, people who have experienced mental health issues and so on.

 

With nurturing and encouragement they have secured employment, got savings, taken back control of their lives and have immense self-belief.  To me, this is social mobility.

 

At the end of the meeting, the Social Mobility team said Growing Talent was good but what about clothes?  Clothes do not bring about change.  A mindset, encouragement into work and self belief do as my evidence shows.

 

So what does Social Mobility mean to you?  Is it a new set of clothes or is it giving the tools to someone to literally change their lives?

 

I sincerely hope the money being invested into these Social Mobility teams actually delivers real change and doesn’t just become a tick box exercise….

New Year = New Opportunity!

At the start of 2017, there were 27 people who really wanted to change their lives and get into permanent work – but being unemployed – they had no idea how.

 

At the same time there were a number of employers including some from the world of hospitality, business moves, recruitment, data management and business services looking to add new talent to their businesses but not knowing how to confidently recruit people with knowledge of their current and future potential as well as their commitment and reliability.

 

Growing Talent is the bridge between the two.  A supported journey for both sides to evaluate the other delivering sustainable recruitment and no surprises!

 

All 27 people mentioned above at the start of 2017, completed Growing Talent and went into work.  Their employers were confident they had the right match for their roles, teams and business.

 

To date, Growing Talent has seen 121 people from diverse backgrounds go into permanent jobs changing their lives and their employer’s perception on the talent that is missed in the ranks of our unemployed population.

 

It’s so difficult ‘selling’ your skills and potential on a faceless cv.  It’s even harder if confidence has dropped due to unemployment.  Some of the success stories of Growing Talent below………

 

Richard – mid-30s and never worked.  Dropped school at 15.  Secured a role with Harrow Green – still working there almost 2 years later.

 

Dan – a graduate who didn’t know what career he wanted.  Joined a front of house team on a corporate site as a Welcome Host.  18 months later – on their fastback programme progressing to team leader.

 

Chris – a little over 3 years ago, had a series of temp jobs in retail and some volunteering.  Was unwell with depression.  When asked why he should be given a chance on Growing Talent, he replied ‘I honestly don’t know’.  He joined a business solutions organisation on a corporate site.  After two years he moved to a hotel reception role and is now Supervisor there  managing a team!  He’s also started a degree course in his spare time.

 

If you are looking to get into work in 2018 and don’t know how – check http://www.growing-talent.co.uk.

 

As an employer, if you don’t recruit through Growing Talent, do you want to continue missing out on great talent like Chris, Dan and Richard?  It costs nothing other than time, open mind and commitment.

 

What are you going to change in 2018?

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