Roller Coasters come in all shapes….

19 July saw the start of the first Growing Talent hybrid for ten fantastically talented, currently unemployed people keen to work.

Selected by one of the ‘Big 4’ organisations for permanent roles in their growing virtual business support teams, they commenced step one – the orientation and holistic week – virtual of course!

So what did we cover over this week?

Mondaycommunication – a vital area to get right in all areas of our lives – no matter what our social status is nor our seniority in the workplace. But how much time do we put into making sure we get this right? Have you considered the following?

  • Speaking – what is the aim of the conversation? what content will you cover? where and how are you going to hold this conversation? what are the possible outcomes of this conversation? have you considered your tone, clarity, volume and pace?
  • Listening – do you automatically listen without judgement? do you ensure there will be no interruptions nor distractions? Do you listen with empathy or sympathy – do you know the difference?
  • Reflect back – paraphrasing is essential to ensure you have understood what you have heard – get the evidence, don’t just assume.
  • Body Language – did you know non verbal cues make up the biggest part of communication?
  • What method is appropriate for the conversation you are going to have?
  • What types of conflict might you encounter?
  • What’s your conflict style? accommodating, avoidance, collaboration, competitive, compromise
  • You statements – also known as the communication destroyer. Do you know why?

There is more to communication than most think!

Tuesday – invest in yourself. Critical – not selfish. Airline safety talks ‘state put the oxygen mask on you BEFORE helping others’ That makes sense, so why not scheduling in some self care windows throughout the day? This section covered:

  • Stop avoiding fear
  • Mantra and personal values
  • Overcoming negative thoughts
  • Control your brain – stop letting it control you
  • Self care toolkit
  • Dealing with imposter syndrome
  • Nurture your soul

Wednesday – nurturing your body – a car only runs on the right fuel. So does your body. Fuel it mindfully!

  • Food fads – the power of marketing vs facts
  • Superfoods – really
  • Understanding sugar – in all it’s forms
  • Exercise
  • Social media – good, bad and ugly

ThursdayMoney talks! Sharing basic financial tips together. 3 little bottles – waste and recycling, why is it so important. Moving on. Encompassing…..

  • Managing debt
  • How to increase savings
  • Ways to increase income
  • Considering credit cards, debit cards and cash
  • Money mantras
  • How to apply for new roles uniquely

Friday – I-act – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

How to look after yourself and those around you. This accredited course delivers a solid understanding of what mental health and wellbeing is, over 50 tools for self care and evaluation, robust evidence reporting – amongst a whole lot more.

So what did the fabulous 10 participants feel about the week? Below are some of the feedback – anonymous in line with GDPR:

“The content was exciting and engaging – which surprised me. I was expecting it to be a bit boring because it’s delivered by Zoom”

“The journey book which accompanied the week was clear and helped me understand the course. I can refer to it ongoing.”

“This week was so worthwhile – it’s taught me how to be more professional”

“I’ve been implementing things I learned in my personal life such as delaying my response in conversations until I understand what’s been said. It’s easy to misunderstand people if you jump in too soon.”

“The contents of the week were fantastic, very informative and engaging with loads of tools to assist me going forward”

The accompanying book was significantly relevant”

“I found everything insightful and enlightening. There were a lot of topics. I especially liked mental health and how to engage with someone who might be struggling. I feel I can now demonstrate a lot more empathy. I also really enjoyed finance considering how much I wasn’t taught much about the topic at school.”

“I’m glad to have the accompanying book as I can go back and refresh my knowledge anytime.

“This is probably the best training course I have every attended. T/he contents cover life inside and outside work”

“The book will be extremely useful going forward. On the course it enabled everyone to read at their own pace.”

What were the thoughts on the trainer?

“I loved how Jane had everyone engaged and included in all of the topic areas. She allowed us to digress within reason, which helped explore the topic further but she was also able to control anything that was not relevant to our learning.”

“Jane’s style was inclusive, warm and welcoming. Everything was clear.”

“Jane is very interactive and gives off a very positive vibe. I really felt like my opinion was relevant when she asked questions and she’s always very impartial so we didn’t feel like we were being judged. It was a pleasure doing my training with her”

“Jane’s compassionate and a very good listener”

“”Jane’s style was nice and precise, she knows what she is talking about and is a confident lady who taught us in a respectful professional manner.”

For me, the week was a mutually positive experienced. When we see each other as humans, we can learn so much together. Essential for work and life – don’t you agree?

Why keep doing the same old same old?

Of course ‘Mental Health’ isn’t such the taboo subject it was but there is still a huge social and self stigma fog to break down.

Back in 2017, the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, commissioned Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (CEO of Mind) to investigate and report on mental health at work. This resulted in “Thriving at Work” published in October 2017.

Some of the key findings of this report were disturbing:

  • 300,000 lose their jobs each year due to mental ill health – far higher than the incidence of physical health
  • Around 15% of people at work have symptoms

Key recommendations from this report:

  • Produce, implement and communicate positive mental health in the workplace
  • Develop mental health awareness among staff
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health
  • Provide employees with work/life balance options
  • Routinely monitor employee wellbeing

More ambitious ‘enhanced’ standards from this report include:

  • Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting
  • Demonstrate accountability
  • Improve the disclosure process
  • Ensure provision of tailored inhouse mental health support and signposting to clinical help

At the time of this report only 11% of employees discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager – meaning 89% did not feel able to disclose. In addition at the time of this report in 2017 only 11% of the Top 100 companies disclose their initiatives in their annual reports.

Only 24% of managers in 2017 received some form of training in mental health at work.

4 years later – has anything changed?

That’s what I keep asking myself. On the surface, businesses seem to feel they’ve done all that they can. They’ve usually rolled out MHFA training, assigned some people who’ve done MHFA training as ‘First Aiders’ to their peers who might be struggling. Is that effective? Is it enough?

I don’t think so. Businesses need to think about what their business and staff need to really thrive not just do a tick in the box training exercise with a proven reactive programme like MHFA just because it’s the most well known.

MHFA is an excellent programme for those interested in the subject area. It teaches in-depth information on mental health conditions, legislation and how to support, listen and signpost someone once they have experienced an issue. Devised by Betty Kitchener, a mental health nurse in Australia, and her partner Professor Anthony Jorm. With a global reach, it has become the go to product for businesses to deliver mental health training – but it was not designed for the workplace!

Selecting a unique, accredited programme like I-act, specifically written for the workplace and accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists with over 50 self care tools, guidance on how to build a mentally positive and healthy workplace as well as evaluation and development tools for those doing the training to support others – makes more sense. Cost effective and efficient.

Maybe if more employers choose to build a select menu of options for resilience, wellbeing, and positive mental health for their business and staff – the stats will be much better in another four years.

Or will we continue to kick the can down the road? Businesses are not the same. Why select the same training as your competitors when your business is different? Isn’t it better to lead than follow?

At Jane James’s Consultancy Ltd, we deliver the I-act training for managers and non-managers along with devising bespoke bolt ons to meet staff and business needs. Financial awareness, self-employment, team empowerment, financial awareness, know your purpose, what’s your journey – and many more. Financial awareness for staff is a key point in the new international guidelines ISO45003.

If you want to ensure your business and staff are thriving, why not get in touch to discuss options?

Ever had that sinking feeling because you’re missing something?

Something I’m trying to get better at is gardening. Like many others, growing up I never listened nor showed interest in grandparents trying to teach me about growing fruit, vegetables, herbs etc. For them, they learnt out of necessity – food was still scare for them growing up.

Looking back, I don’t doubt they also got a lot of calmness, wellbeing and resilience from their planting and of course harvesting even if these weren’t the primary reasons they gardened!!!!

For the last 20 plus years, the voices for environmental wellbeing, impact on the world of wrong types of food productions, water consumption etc has been a catalyst for many to embrace gardening. For some, it’s the mindfulness nurturing plants, tending soil etc. Others want to save on their food bill and /or teach their children where food comes from.

The arrival of lockdown saw many start tending their gardens, balconies and/or window sills as their previous routines had evaporated virtually overnight.

Whatever the reason, the joy of growing something, especially from seed, seems to lighten the spirit no matter the age or background. Like laughter, gardening seems to be a universal medicine.

Personally, I’ve never been that successful growing vegetables from seeds. Either I get a frail, shrivelled seedling that doesn’t mature or nothing at all.

The universal ‘go to’ now is the internet. YouTube is perfect for step by step guidance in many things from plumbing to gardening. Here I learned about a method to increase germination of seeds to help growth. Using a mixture of 1:10 hydrogen peroxide to water mix, dampen some kitchen towel and wrap the seeds in this before placing them into a plastic bag for two days. The film showed not all seeds would germinate but most would. It seemed worth a try. The only thing was no hydrogen peroxide. I had that sinking feeling. So I went with just water and it worked!

The reason for sharing this is to show just because you haven’t got all the ingredients for something, you can improvise and still get great results.

Don’t let any ‘sinking feeling’ deter you from trying.

“Thousands of jobs & no one to fill them” – can that really be true?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57349802  This features a report by KPMG on the situation UK PLC finds itself in: “thousands of job vacancies but no people to fill them” How can that be so?

In other reports from @BBC we know there are 1.7m unemployed and over 4m on furlough who may not have jobs to return to when furlough finally ends.

There seems a huge disconnect.

From the people I’ve spoken to over the past fourteen months I think there’s an elephant in the room we are not addressing.  Fear.  

Fear of stepping outside their door.

Fear of leaving their family.

Fear of stepping onto public transport.

Fear of walking into a new environment.

Fear of getting to learn a new role.

Fear of a new routine

Fear of not being respected by colleagues

Fear of not ‘gelling’ with the team/management

Fear of losing this new job

Fear of failing

There is an expectation employers will address this fear. Those integrating the new ISO45003 guidelines will go a long way to achieving this. Using Growing Talent to gain new talent will see them go even further in achieving the goal of sustainable new talent who have grown into the available role through the methods taught on Growing Talent to flourishing adding real value to everyone.

If you have a real job to fill, why not consider www.growing-talent.co.uk?  It’s completely free and not a Government funded programme. 

The global pandemic has seen businesses change the way they operate to get the results they want. 

Isn’t now the time to change the way you recruit to reveal those hidden gems of talent you’ve potentially been missing?

#psychosocial #risks #business #leadership #talent #socialmobility #inclusion #diversity

What has fairy tales got to do with business?

Everything if we want workplaces, people, profits, brand reputation to flourish.

After reading the Stevenson Farmer 2017 report ‘Thriving at Work”, the ISO45003 new international standard guidelines “Psychological Health & Safety at Work – Guidelines for Managing Psychosocial Risks” and CIPD’s April 2021 member’s survey report it’s clear business has to slay a few dragons to truly thrive.

Let’s look at those three core pieces of work a little more closely. What are the core results of each?

Thriving At Work – 2017

  • 300,000 staff lose their jobs each year through longer term mental health – far higher than those who have lost their role through physical issues.
  • Around 15% of staff have symptoms of mental ill health
  • Over half the cost to employers estimated £33bn-£42bn is due to presenteeism
  • Deloitte’s estimated for every £1 invested in management training for workplace mental health and wellbeing the return is £9.98
  • Only 11% of staff discussed a recent mental ill health issue with their line manager
  • Staff fear disclosing will lead to discrimination. Line managers fear getting involved will make matters worse.
  • Only 11% of the Top 100 companies disclose their initiatives for wellbeing and mental health in their annual reports.

ISO45003 – guidance notes available now. Certification available later in 2021

  • Understand and identify what is a psychosocial risk/hazard, then mitigate it – ISO 3.1
  • Understand legal requirements – ISO 4.1.1
  • Ensure appointed staff to be first aiders and listening ears for mental health and wellbeing are not only trained but competent too – ISO 8.2(B)
  • Address staff working location – isolation, IT issues – home working responsibility – ISO 4.1.3
  • Management of change – ISO 8.1.3
  • Return to work – psychosocial risk assessment – ISO8.3
  • Emergency response -(examples – terror acts, dismissal, suicide) ISO 8.2
  • Ensure staff can identify signs in themselves of psychosocial risks – ISO 8.1.25

CIPD April 2021 Report – member survey

  • Financial wellbeing is still lacking. Only 19% of companies have financial wellbeing information in place
  • Employers’ are the key financial provider to their employees and should have a menu of information/training to reflect the make-up of their staff to reflect key requirements.
  • Just over 77% of respondents believe their company is actively promoting positive mental health and wellbeing BUT less than half of these felt it was effective.
  • Many employees don’t feel their managers are comfortable supporting someone experiencing a mental health issue.
  • Stress remains the biggest issue for staff. 71% of staff said they had taken sick days due to workplace stress. This percentage rose to 91% for companies over 250 staff.
  • COVID has been the. biggest cause of workplace stress
  • In November 2020 Mind said more people had experienced a mental health crisis than ever previously recorded pre-Covid.
  • Overwhelming majority of respondents have observed presenteeism – 75% in the workplace and 77% whilst working at home over the past 12 months.
  • Seven in 10 people have observed leaveism – working outside contracted hours, during annual leave.

Conclusion

Clearly there are many adults from all backgrounds experiencing their own ‘dragons’. The snapshots of the above three documents show employers’ role in slaying those dragons are clear.

Having worked in the field of training in positive mental health, wellbeing, resilience building, finance building blocks for a great many years, I’ve seen a shift from some employers keen to address some of this and roll out training. 

But is it the right training? For well over the 10 years I was involved in MHFAEngland whose mission is to ‘train 1:10 of the population’ in their reactive first aider programme. 

But what if the wrong people are being trained? 

If staff do not feel their line manager is comfortable speaking about mental ill health issues, they won’t disclose even when they know that manager has been trained. First Aider programmes inform on what to do when something has happened. They don’t inform how to build resilience, improve wellbeing, mitigate psychosocial risks. I-act does. Check out what is covered in i-act’s courses and make sure you are buying something as robust when looking at mental health and wellbeing training in your workplace:

1.     Bespoke courses for both those managing teams and those not 

2.     Accredited by Royal College of Psychiatrists and carries CPD points

3.     Proactive – teaches resilience building not just reactive when there is an issue

4.     Those receiving the training improve the quality of their own lives, those around them and makes the workplace inclusive and resilient

5.     Evidence based, systematically reviewed every three years

6.     Both courses have an accompanying 168 page evidenced-based training manual, toolkit and resource pack 

7.     Participants gain access to i-act’s website to download resources

8.     Virtual delivery – saves time, money and anxiety for staff who find travelling difficult

9.     Has over 50 practical step-by-step tools and over 95 organisations to refer to

10.  Can be delivered nationally and internationally – ideal for global organisations wanting uniform training

11.  Whilst it teaches how to support someone in distress, it uniquely focuses on improving wellbeing and building resilience to reduce the risk of becoming unwell – hence the name i-act rather than re-act.

12.  Has unique evaluation and development tools for those team members supporting other team members so collectively the pillars give the acronym of i-acted:

I – Improve wellbeing

A – Advocate help and signpost

C – Connect with people

T – Take tools and advice

E – Evaluate and monitor

D – Develop further

If you are interested in learning more to grow the resilience of your business and teams, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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.

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.

 

 

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…..

Orientation – the fun way!

After 5 years, 2019 saw the introduction of a sleek new format for Growing Talent.  Now 6 weeks long with, in exceptional circumstances, the ability to lengthen this to a max 12 weeks, it still has the two core elements essential to completing the Growing Talent journey – Orientation Week & Holistic Week.

 

The Orientation Week takes place after selection but prior to going on the employer’s site and training in the vacant role.  This is designed to build confidence, set challenges, raise self-esteem and of course building team work.

 

A new venue as well at Etc Venues in Eastcheap saw the additional of breakfast for all Growing Talent Associates each morning on the Orientation !

 

A selection of cereals, cold meats, cheese, pastries and of course a smoothie corner!

 

The coffee centre for cappuccino, lattes as well as teas was a welcome shot of caffeine during the week!

 

Monday saw Lesley – Head of H&S at PwC join us to deliver her invigorating 3Rs (Refresh, Renewal and Rejuvenate) workshop designed to enhance wellbeing.

 

Lesley shared her top tips on healthy choices, staying awake and energised as well as the amount of ingredients in a shop brought muffin (you really don’t want to know the answer!)

 

On Tuesday we were joined by Emma from Unravelling Minds who delivered not only her experience of intense workload causing her mental health issues but how she used art therapy as a recovery tool and now uses it as a solid wellbeing tool.

 

You could hear a pin drop as Emma set tasks for the guys to complete.  All agreed they were so much more relaxed after Emma’s workshop and would use the tools she’d given them during lunch breaks etc to stay mindful of their own wellbeing – a crucial attribute for us all.

 

Wednesday we focused on public speaking and presentations as well as discussing all ideas for the Social Enterprise challenge at the end of the week.  This comprises each Growing Talent Associate devising and delivering an idea to benefit a local community.  It must have a revenue stream and be ‘doable’.  This is delivered before a panel of managers from their employer sites who decide on the winner for the £50 cash prize!

 

Case studies, communication, skills gap analysis, conflict management, employment etiquette, challenges under the Equalities Act 2010, what if scenarios, networking tasks as well as how to do a good handshake made up middle of the week.

 

Jade from Customer Care First (CCF) joined us on Thursday to share knowledge of the intricacies of speaking, listening, annunciation, body language etc – communication is pretty tough to do right!

 

Jade above explaining the core elements of communication.

Estela, Joseph and Abraham above with Jade trying to list what conversations are ok to have with colleagues – not as easy as you might thing under the Equalities Act 2010 – challenges can be made by third parties who overhear what you say!

 

Empowered by the week and what they had achieved, we were ready for the Social Enterprise challenge.

 

Judges l-r Antonia – Portico, Jamie – Red Personnel, Adam – PwC, Julie – Portico, Ebb – Crown Plaza & Mark – PwC

 

The judges listened to six excellent ideas before deciding Jess’s ‘Wake up – to Make-up’ was the winner.

 

 Jess collecting her prize from Adam of PwC

 

To finish off, we had an excellent networking lunch.

 

So what did the guys think of the week?  Just a few comments below…..

 

‘The Orientation Week helps you gain confidence, learn about the work culture and polish our own skills.  It is a good way to prepare yourself for going into/back to work.  Growing Talent offers  high quality training.  It takes Associates seriously and acknowledges their talent.  I have never been on anything like this before.  I feel valued.’

 

‘The Orientation Week is so worth doing because it helps you build confidence for your workplace so you can be even better at what you do.’

 

‘I’m glad Growing Talent exists’

 

‘The Orientation Week enables you to transition into work more smoothly.  It gives you skills you can use as a head start in your role.  Fab – what an amazing opportunity!’

 

 

 

 

What an honour!

Running Growing Talent, it’s my responsibility and privilege to mentor and support vulnerable people to successfully complete and secure the permanent job on offer – literally changing their lives.

 

Like most things we experience vulnerability is on a scale.  People on Growing Talent come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some will be very vulnerable others not so.

 

This support doesn’t end with the programme.  I continue to mentor and support long after the programme has finished.

 

It’s been a difficult few months for one graduate of the programme from seven programmes ago.  Still employed and doing well at work but experiencing some personal issues.  A pendulum of events and emotions over the past few months will continue a while longer.  I have no doubt the person concerned will conquer this period and be a much more empathetic force.

 

I am very proud to have received this award and know that I do make a difference.

 

We should follow Action for Happiness’s view on automatic living.  We bundle through live without actually living it.  Taking a breath to take in our surroundings and live in the moment is so key to our wellbeing and strength.  I personally believe affirmation every day and a reflective period on what we have done well at the end of each day boosts out self-esteem and positivity.

 

I’ll look at my award every now and then to remind myself I do make a difference and do a good job.  Why don’t you try it and see how your self-esteem increases?

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