What does quality mean?

I’m thinking in the field of training.

Is accreditation important? To know a specific level of learning has been met and that an industry body endorses the training.

Is it. more important to do a course that is more well-known but unaccredited just giving a Certificate of Attendance?

Does it matter so long as some learning has been achieved?

Well, these were the questions I have grappled with over the years (more than 10!) that I have been a Mental Health First Aid Instructor with MHFAEngland.

You’ll see from my earlier posts ‘Learning together…..virtually’ and ‘The benefits of virtual learning’ I did something about it and re-trained.

It’s a great feeling to be able to deliver five new accredited courses for First Aider in Mental Health at three levels and the excellent Managing and Promoting Mental Health and WELLbeing & Understanding and Promoting Mental Health and WELLbeing.

It’s kind of seemed unreal until I received my certificates from FAA today!

Below is the kind of accredited certificate delegates receive so they know they’ve achieved a certain level of qualification regulated by Ofqual and SQA in Scotland.

I feel really proud to have done this training and succeeded in the challenges I set myself. No matter how much self-doubt you may have to make a change, the only thing to fear is fear itself.

I can hardly wait to start delivering these courses virtually!

Learning together….virtually!

It’s strange how Coronavirus has managed to change my mind completely on virtual training. I know some remote locations globally have used virtual methods to deliver skills, training and education in all areas for many years.

Up until March this year when the Coronavirus curve ball hit us all, I didn’t feel I personally could deliver valuable training online. How wrong was I?

Having done nothing but virtual training over the last six months I see how much more inclusive and nurturing it is. It gives a much wider reach enabling people based throughout the UK and beyond to join from the comfort of their home sharing their knowledge and experiences.

I know see 90% of my business going forward will be on a virtual platform rather than classroom environment. So many more advantages to the virtual stage. All being there is good internet access of course!

At the start of the pandemic I made the decision to find an exact product to replace MHFAEngland’s three courses I’m licensed to deliver. Their half day awareness course, one day champion course and two day adult First Aider course. None of which are accredited.

I discovered http://www.nucotraining.com which recently added three accredited courses which match what I was looking for. Nuco has a solid reputation in the first aid, H&S and associated environments.

However, there was a few steps first! I had to apply and be screened against Nuco’s criteria. I also had to do a L3 formal Education and Training course with CTC before I could be accepted for Instructor training. I was a little deflated as I’m pretty impatient when it comes to me getting things done! CTC’s website showed the L3 qualification took unto a year. I really didn’t want to wait that long!!!

Thankfully with the curve ball of Coronavirus and home working, I managed to complete the L3 in under three months! Once I had this qualification I was able to get accepted by Nuco on their last virtual training session for Mental Health First Aid planned for 2020.

Everything fell into place beautifully!

Level 1 is a four hour workshop to raise awareness which a written paper at the end to prove knowledge and attain the Level 3 qualification.

Level 2 is six hours with a written paper and practical session to gain the

Level 3 qualifies someone to be the First Aider and is 12 hours long with 2 papers to complete and a practical session.

The beauty of virtual training is illustrated by people on the Instructor’s course with me. Based throughout the UK as well as Guernsey and in Afghanistan!

Martin, the Nuco Instructor, shared techniques and resources. Engaging, challenging and robust.

An exhausting but strangely energising experience.

Now I have a 5 accredited courses on mental health and wellbeing to add to my portfolio of workshops available for clients wishing to ensure the wellbeing of their staff.

Opportunity presents itself in the most unexpected ways.

The benefits of virtual learning

For the 10+ years I’ve been a MHFAEngland Instructor, I’ve been looking for a mental health and wellbeing programme to deliver which was accredited by a qualifying body delivering real value rather than the usual courses that just end with a Certificate of Attendance.

I stumbled across http://www.i-act.co.uk who devised mental health and well-being products specifically for the workplace. Both courses come with a 168 page manual, 50 self-help tools to use and 95 referral organisations for different mental health issues.

Having done the manager’s course – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and WELLBeing – accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists with CPD points – I knew this was a key product which would deliver real value to my clients.

I decided to apply for the Instructor’s accreditation to deliver both the manager course and the ‘Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health and WELLbeing in the Workplace’ for non-management employees.

At the start of this week myself and others from all corners of the UK, Bahrain and Hong Kong met online with one of the co-founders Pete – a Clinical Psychiatrist and mine of information – also our Instructor. After watching Pete deliver, we then had to deliver the whole programme in our own style with a couple of peers giving feedback.

Solid connections were made. Messages of encouragement flowed over WhatsApp as we all became accredited instructors.

I now intend adding these two excellent courses to my portfolio of training to employers looking to ensure their staff at all levels are maintaining optimum levels of wellbeing duding real value to their bottom line and brand reputation.

The opportunities that open up when you least expect them can lead to incredible places.

‘Success lies on the other side of fear’ – said Actor Will Smith

Personally, I totally agree with this thought and highlight the importance of ‘facing the fear’ in all of my wellbeing and mental health training.  Many people have said  something along the lines of ‘it’s not things in themselves that affects us but our reaction to these things’  for centuries – literally!  Epictetus a Greek slave  50-135AD said it, so did Shakespeare and many others.  It has stood the test of time.

 

For many the impact on Coronavirus has been negative especially where there are vulnerabilities already present.  For others they have seen the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on where they are and do something completely different.

 

Check out the feature below from the BBC News website this morning.   Reflect on where you are.  Is now the time for you to do something different too?

 

Coronavirus: The women who started businesses in lockdown

 

Natalie James, Charlie Pears-Wallace, Mya Wander and Caroline Haegeman
Image captionNatalie James, Charlie Pears-Wallace, Mya Wander and Caroline Haegeman

The coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard, leading to sweeping numbers of redundancies and millions of workers being furloughed.

Despite the downturn, some people have decided to take the brave step of starting a business.

We spoke to four women about why they did it and how their ideas are progressing.

‘I started it on a whim but it’s become like my child’

Young entrepreneur Natalie JamesImage copyrightNATALIE JAMES
Image captionNatalie started a subscription service to bring people the beauty, makeup and self-care products they were missing during lockdown

Natalie James, 30, from Wanstead in East London works in fashion PR. Although she continued working through lockdown from home, she didn’t like the fact that she wasn’t able to pamper herself with her favourite beauty products as all the shops were shut.

Realising “a lot of other people felt the same”, she decided to start a £10-a-month subscription box service called Tingle, which offers a curated selection of beauty, makeup and skincare products sent to your door.

“I started to get cabin fever and hated that the only place I could go to was the supermarket,” Natalie adds about her decision to open a business.

She invested £300 in building her own website on Wix and designing the packaging for the box. She also approached beauty brands and managed to get most products gifted, while others were bought at cost price.

The companies that partner with Tingle get to include information about their brand in each box, along with discount coupons for further purchases.

Natalie says she has had 400 orders to date and made £5,000 in sales, but it has been hard work.

“I do literally everything – I’m staying up until 3am on some nights, but it’s worth it.”

‘I needed something to keep me going through lockdown’

Young entrepreneur Mya Leonie WanderImage copyrightMYA WANDER
Image captionMya started a Caribbean takeaway meal service during lockdown

Student Mya Leonie Wander, 20, had always fancied starting her own business and is a “big foodie”.

So in June she decided to start MJ Eats, a part-time Caribbean “soul food” takeaway service, cooking from home two or three days a week.

Mya, who advertises on Instagram, has so far had around 20 orders a week and made £500 in sales. She also says she broke even after just two months.

“I started my business because I needed something to keep me going through lockdown,” she tells the BBC.

She had been a competitive athlete most of her life, but not being able to do sport or find work “took its toll”.

Mya plans to continue running her business part-time and studying for her degree when the new academic year starts in October.

‘I finally had the time to commit to launching a business’

Young entrepreneur Caroline Haegeman and her partner JaiImage copyrightCAROLINE HAEGEMAN
Image captionCaroline Haegeman and her partner Jai pose with her “date night” subscription box product

Caroline Haegeman, 25, is studying for a PhD in oncology at Imperial College London.

Part of her work requires her to carry out experiments in the laboratory at university, but her course was put on hold for three months during lockdown and she had to stay at home.

Spending so much time indoors with her partner made her realise that even if they couldn’t go out, the couple needed to have “fun date nights” for the health of their relationship, but there weren’t many activities to do.

So she set up subscription box service Box42 “to bring back the romance”. Each one-off box retails for £33, or £29 for a monthly subscription, and comes with two fun activities following a theme, as well as snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, curated playlists and “mood setters” like candles.

“I started the company during lockdown because that’s when I started really seeing a gap in the market,” says Caroline, who partnered with independent food and drink companies and negotiated wholesale prices on the items.

“Previously, although I’d had different ideas, I’d never had enough time to commit to launching a business.”

Caroline has so far invested £1,100 in the business and her sales total £950. She hopes to break even soon.

‘It started as a necessity and then I decided it was brilliant’

Young entrepreneur Charlie Pears-WallaceImage copyrightCHARLIE PEARS-WALLACE
Image captionCharlie Pears-Wallace forged a new career for herself during lockdown

Charlie Pears-Wallace, 34, from Newcastle had come from a sales and marketing background and quit her job just before the coronavirus crisis.

She had hoped to change careers and get a new job that allowed her to use her French, but the pandemic made this very difficult.

But during lockdown she began helping small businesses with their social media strategies and marketing, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations.

She now works as a marketing and PR consultant under the brand Charliecomms, and says she has brought in enough revenue to break even, pay her bills and put some money aside.

“I guess it started as a necessity and then I decided it was actually brilliant,” she says.

“I think if this year has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what might happen. But I like to think that I’ve safeguarded myself in a way, as I’m not a full-time wage to anyone.”

 

History repeating itself? Technology helping or crushing humans?

Watching a feature on a news channel this morning about the pros and cons of capitalism has left me wondering if we have learned anything from the Industrial Revolution to the financial markets crash of 2008.

 

I’m not sure I’m any clearer on an answer!

 

Hundreds of years ago machines started replacing humans’ physical labour.  Less people were employed which more was produced.  But workers laid off faced destitution with no money to feed, clothe themselves or provide shelter – remember this was before state unemployment benefits.

 

With the advancement of machines cracking codes in WW2, computers reducing in size from huge rooms to pocket size and robots being used in medical sciences we’ve seen many pluses to this technology.  But is it now going too far?

 

The online news feature showed Bob Pisani, On-Air Stock Editor for CNBC – American news channel who liaises with stock traders and explains the markets to the general population.  Bob passionately believes in capitalism without which he feels  there would be no financial support within the economy.  Markus Koch a Stock Market Correspondence stated traders have been reduced from thousands to hundreds in recent years as machines have taken over.  More thought provoking for me was Tarek Mashhour, Audi Plant Germany explaining their goal is to have a production network of communicating robots meaning increased productivity with the same resources.  But if less humans are working – who is buying the Audi cars?

 

Dirk Heitmann of IBM Germany explained they are developing cognitive machines capable of learning on their own!  Dirk feels this increases human creativity capabilities.  But could this be at the price of human jobs?

 

Anthony Scaramucci, Hedge Fund owner believes capitalism is the only system which works.  ‘There is tremendous opportunity for growth over the next fifty years.  We can mine for minerals essential in technology in asteroids in space’.  Now that idea might sound completely out there but we have computers that can talk with each other, robots used in manufacturing, healthcare and so on.  Is it really out of reach?

 

An interesting thought concluded the news feature by Professor Tim Jackson – Economist at University of Surrey who believes ‘we live on a finite planet therefore the expectation we can all grow and profit from capitalism is false – we can’t’.

 

We seem to get richer in technological advancements but the divide between rich and poor seems just as wide and just as unbalanced.

 

We watched with baited breath…..

 

The two sides of cancer during Coronavirus

A disturbing headline.  250,000 lives condemned because they couldn’t get tested/their treatment during the Coronavirus pandemic.  More families will be deprived of loved ones.  Some will never recover.  Questions will always be asked

 

‘with Nightingale Hospitals, why didn’t my …….. get their test/treatment in hospital? or why wasn’t I given the choice to go ahead with my treatment and the threat of Coronavirus in hospital or holdout and risk the spread – it’s my life, my choice?’

 

Heart wrenching for all involved.  Decision makers will have to bear the weight of their decisions going forward.  This, for me was the worst side of Coronavirus reported in the Sunday papers.

 

Below was an innovative feature alongside the one above which for me shows the best face of cancer during this period.  Medical professionals thinking outside the box to treating reassure their patients.

 

 

Whatever your view, one thing is for sure, a lot of long lasting pain will be caused by this pandemic which we don’t event realise the full extent of yet.

Graduate Powerhouse!

Approached by JobCentre Plus – South East to write a week long programme aimed at Graduates who were unsure of their next steps, I wrote the workshops to be delivered by Zoom to highlight key thinking not usually discussed in a family, education nor business environments.

 

Through my work on Growing Talent, and before it The Real Apprentice, I’ve long known the fabulous hidden talent amongst us that employers are missing out on because people do not know how to share what’s inside them.  After much preparation, research, scheduling, I finally had an Agenda to deliver 27 – 31July 2020 that I was happy with – but would the participants be?

 

Covering a different, but related theme, each day including employment, empowerment and wellbeing each day using a variety of discussion, whiteboard feedback, powerpoint, films and polls, firm connections were quickly built with a sound commitment to stay in touch.

 

The empathy, encouragement, strength and bravery in each session between all participants for each other was palpable.  This was a joy to witness.  People helping people no matter their background, culture, religion or ethnicity.

 

So what did we cover?

 

Monday – Who are you, elevator pitch – what is it, why is it important, how do you compose one effectively, what do employers look for?

 

Tuesday – Where are you, where do you want to be, what’s in-between?  Your career plan, self-evaluation as a tool for choosing a career.

 

Wednesday – cvs – the good, the bad and the ugly, how to ace a virtual interview, what’s a personal brand?  why are they important?

 

Thursday – Understanding our brain, how it functions and how it can stop us moving forward, fake it until you become it, use the Power Pose, self care, wellbeing toolkits, manage pressure

 

Friday – Perfecting our elevator pitch and personal brand, constructive feedback to partners.

 

So what were some of the thoughts at the end of this great week?

 

“Good afternoon Jane, I would like to just thank you once again. It honestly changed my life and helped so much. I wish you the best and I hope I can stay in contact.”

 

“Just wanted to thank you again. It was an amazing and impactful time.”

 

“I wanted to say thank you for this amazing week. You have helped and encouraged me to look at things in a different light. I think you’re an amazing women and I can’t thank you enough for giving me and the other girls your valuable time. 
Keep doing what you are doing and making other people feel great. Thank you for also introducing me to some new amazing humans! “

 

The power of sharing knowledge – inspirational and can be life changing.

 

 

Thoughtful moment – Profits over health?

A feature on Aljazeera TV this morning – @AJStream – featuring the ongoing battle for truth and justice between USA and indigenous American Indians – resonated with me in many areas.  Guests on @AJStream included three people from different indigenous tribes who have been fighting against oil pipelines through their lands, poisoning water via toxic waste leaks.

 

Jacqueline Keeler, one of the guests and a journalist, explained only sovereign states can have treaties between them and that treaty is supreme law under the American constitution.  I hadn’t realised the indigenous tribes were a sovereign state – something I don’t think is known by many outside the tribes themselves.  Therefore, the treaties drawn us and written into the constitution are supreme law.  To ignore this position is to break the Constitution, isn’t it?

 

Joye Braun  – @joyem_braun – explained the ‘fake news’ oil companies put out through marketing such as the pipeline ‘will bring jobs and prosperity locally, the oil is needed locally, and it’s safe – no leaks for the past three years’.  Joye said the truth is any jobs are temporary, no money goes into the local community – instead it goes to oil companies profits, the local community doesn’t need the oil – in fact there is an oil glut right not.  The oil is sold outside the USA and lastly, the thing that resonated the most with me, Joye explained the reason the oil companies report no leaks in the last three years is because the oil companies got the level at which they need to report leakages increased! – so there have been leaks just at a lower rate than the companies have to report.

 

This last point resonated the most with me.  The Government in the UK at start of the Coronavirus pandemic promised a set number of daily tests by a set date.  When they were clearly not going to reach their target, they included all tests posted out to people.  So it seems all figures can be ‘fudged’ which we all know but is it right to fudge the figures when peoples’ health is in danger?

 

As Joye and her peers say ‘Water is Life’ – would you be happy drinking toxic water?

 

 

Equality or stats for stats sake?

A feature on Aljazeera Tv showed Germany’s Christian Democrat Union – Germany’s current ruling party CDU – have indicated wanting 50% of women in Government.  This goes to a vote in December.

Angela Merkle, current leader, is stepping down.  Known as the Mother of Germany, she has built up her experience over many years in various political posts.  She has broke many glass ceilings.

 

On the face of it, this seems like a noble idea.  But opposition is present from many including women themselves who don’t want to be given a position because of their sex only on their merit and ability.  Astrid Hamker, President of the Economic Council for CDU, is against the idea of giving posts to women based on their gender.

 

Who is right?  Will women just be put into meaningless roles without responsibility to make decisions to tick a box?  How will women be sure they have earned the right and respect to their role.

 

Women like Angle Merkel have shown grit, determination and staying power to break glass ceilings.  Time will tell what happens in December.  Whatever the outcome, I hope everyone, feels empowered to believe in themselves to see they deserve the opportunities that are out there – they just need to find those opportunities, grab them and grow them.

 

Will humans ever start seeing each other just as another human being?

Thinking outside the box when you business takes a hit

Coronavirus and Covid-19 have put some businesses into positions of having to explore new markets and make themselves attractive to new customers whilst still being accessible financially to their new customers.

 

One such business is a ‘club’ of fishermen and women who had their usual market stopped overnight due to the pandemic with the immediate shutdown of restaurants, gastro pubs etc.  Under the Pesky Fish website, the daily catch is advertised at 8am each morning – be quick though most things are sold by 9am!  You can elect to have the fish filleted or left whole.

 

I made my first order a little nervously.  How can fish be delivered by courier and still be good quality and fresh?  I need not have worried.  My first order arrived today.  Sealed in an insulated box – full recyclable with a really nice touch of information cards about who caught the fish, their boats etc.

 

Not only have I got a good quality selection of fish that will last 4-5 days, it’s cheaper than supermarkets and higher grade but I also feel I’m supporting a niche industry too.

 

So Dean caught my Pollack fillets:

 

 

Matt caught my Mussels

 

Ian smoked my Salmon!

 

 

Fancy some fish? why not check these guys out and support our fishing industry as well

 

https://www.peskyfish.co.uk

 

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