Author Archives: Kathleen Sandford

What Happened During August 2017

Apprentice Mentor Training

On Tuesday 8th August 2017 we delivered an Apprentice Mentor training course to our colleagues across The Community Housing Group that mentor Apprentices as part of our Apprenticeship Programme.

The course, which was developed by our internal Training Officer focused on:

  • Identifying skills of a good Mentor
  • Identifying different ways of instructing
  • Reviewing the Apprentice Paperwork

By the end of the course delegates were able to:

  • Understand the role and responsibilities of an Apprentice Mentor
  • Understand different learning styles

The course was very well received with all delegates rating the course either satisfied or very satisfied.

 

Community Events

On Tuesday 22nd August and Thursday 24th August Vestia supported colleagues across the Group with their annual summer community events.

Members of the Neighbourhood Team and Resident Involvement were there to support the events along with a number of tenant representatives and local Councillors

The two events, which were hosted at the Walshes and Springfield Park, gave residents an opportunity to speak to colleagues from the Group as well as seek employment support from our Job Coaches.

The events were a great success with lots of residents getting involved in the free activities!

What Happened During July 2017

Supporting Local Schools with Work Experience

As part of TCHG’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Vestia organises work experience with local schools.  This work experience is invaluable to the students as it is often their first taste of the working environment.

Without the continued support of our Group colleagues this would not be possible and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your help, support and time with the students. Thank you!

 

Employment Services

It has been our most successful academic year to date with over 151 Wyre Forest residents successfully completing the Vestia Employability Skills course. Of those 49 are TCHG residents, with 43% of those residents going on to find paid employment following the course.

 

Building Better Opportunities (BBO)

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small local projects. Building Better Opportunities (BBO) is a National Lottery and ESF funded project designed to tackle poverty and promote social inclusion throughout Worcestershire.

Since its launch in October 2016; BBO continues to make a real difference to people’s lives in the Wyre Forest and across Worcestershire. The two BBO Jobs Coaches have so far worked with 50 TCHG residents, many facing multiple barriers to returning to the work place. With the bespoke one to one support package offered to all people joining the programme 9 TCHG residents have found long term sustained employment, as a direct result of the Building Better Opportunities Programme.

If you or anyone you know would benefit from the support of a dedicated Job Coach who will work with you to build on your own strengths and abilities to gain the confidence and skills to move into work please get in touch now, we are waiting to hear from you.

If you would like to know more about any of the services offered by Vestia Employment Services Team, or know of anyone who might benefit from some support, speak to one of the team on 01562 733133 or email jobscoach@vestia.org.uk.

 

Baxter College Careers Event

On Thursday 13th July 2017, The Community Housing Group supported Baxter College’s summer Careers Event. This annual event gives pupils the opportunity to understand the world of work and get first-hand advice from local employers.

Apprentices and staff from Oakleaf and Vestia were able to give pupils the chance to learn about Apprenticeships at TCHG, as well as general employment advice.

Thank you to all that supported the event and those Apprentices that acted as Ambassadors for the Group.

Apprenticeship Success

A double congratulations to Megan Hill for successfully completing her Level 4 Association of Accounting Techniques Apprenticeship and for now progressing to the role of Finance Assistant. Well done Megan.

 

 

What Happened During June 2017

The Community Housing Group – Managing Safely Refresher Training

On Thursday 8th June 2017 we delivered a Managing Safely Refresher course. This is an internal course that our Health & Safety qualified trainer developed.

The course updates managers on changes to legislation and helps them review health and safety in their teams, looking specifically at procedures in place at TCHG.

By replacing the IOSH Managing Safely Refresher with our own tailored refresher it enables us to look at our own policies and systems.

The feedback we received from this course is very positive with 100% being satisfied or very satisfied with the training with the following comments;

“I preferred this course to other accredited courses – felt relevant and just the right amount of information. It wasn’t too overwhelming”

“I thought the revamped refresher worked really well compared previous courses”.

 

Oakleaf Commercial Services Apprenticeship and Trainee Event

On Thursday 15th June 2017, Oakleaf hosted an Apprentice and Trainee Event at Kidderminster Town Hall, with support from Vestia and the Group.

The purpose of the event was to advertise for 5 Apprenticeship positions and 1 Trainee position within Oakleaf Commercial Services.

Thank you to all those that supported the event, it was a great success, which saw attendance from a lot of interested applicants.

For further information on our Apprenticeship programme please call the Vestia training team on 01562 733133.

 

Opening Doors Careers Event

On Wednesday 28th June 2017 we hosted a careers event as part of the Opening Doors for Business partnership with OGL. The event, which saw 15 pupils attend Foley Grove, was a huge success.

Dave Hanman, Director of Independent Living Services, was a part of the line-up for the event, taking part in a ‘Day in the Life of a Director’ interactive activity, this gave the pupils an opportunity to learn all about a Director’s role and details of Dave’s own career path.

Other Apprentices and staff from Oakleaf Grounds and Vestia also supported the event, giving pupils the chance to learn about Apprenticeships at The Community Housing Group, as well as CV and interview skills.

Thank you to all that supported the event and those Apprentices that acted as Ambassadors for the Group.

 

Welcome to Nathan Hatch – Web Development Apprentice

Nathan joined The Community Housing Group in June 2017, as a Web Development Apprentice.

Nathan is currently studying towards a Higher Apprenticeship in Software Development, whilst working in the I.T department.

 

 

What Happened During May 2017

Vestia Jobs Clubs

Following the success of our Kidderminster based Jobs Club we have now started a second, based in Stourport.

Vestia Jobs Club is available to anyone living in the Wyre Forest, and is aimed at those who would like to receive help, advice and guidance with finding employment in a relaxed environment, including;

  • Improving interview techniques
  • Perfecting CVs
  • Assistance completing application forms
  • Support with looking for advertised vacancies
  • Access to the internet and computers
  • One-to-one support and advice

If you are interested in attending one of our Jobs Clubs all you need to do is let us know the time you are coming and we’ll make sure there is someone available to help.

Digital Drop-In Sessions

During May 2017 we launched Digital Drop-In Sessions for employees across the Group, the aim of these Drop-In Sessions is to provide our employees with a quiet space and the support needed to complete Core training via E-Learning.

The Drop-In Sessions have been very well received, and as a result we are looking at organising another date at the start of the week.

 

What Happened During April 2017

Employment Services

During April 2017 we delivered the seventeenth and eighteenth On Your Mark Programmes, which saw twelve learners successfully complete the course and achieve a Level 1 City and Guilds in Employability Skills.

Jack, one of the two learners from April who has since gained employment said; “Thanks for everything! You have really helped me, and I consider you and this course the main reason I have a job!”

MoodMasters – 12 Week Stress and Worry Programme

On Tuesdays 3rd April we, alongside HR colleagues, commenced the first of two pilot programmes for the MoodMasters 12 Week Stress and Worry Programme, as part of the Group’s absence management programme & employee well-being commitment.

Running weekly, the MoodMaster programme aims to provide a range of simple tools and techniques to help improve ‘resilience’ to stressors for attendees, enabling them to better manage life’s (and work’s) emotional ups and downs more effectively, cope better with everyday stresses and worries and improve their overall quality of life.

So far the first two programmes have been running extremely well, with attendees benefiting from the tools and techniques learnt.

Baxter College Careers Event

On Tuesday 4th April we hosted a careers event for Baxter College, the event helped support Baxter’s year 8 pupils in their selection of options and possible careers choices.

During the event, pupils were able to get involved with a number of interactive stands, including Grounds Maintenance – Pot your own Sunflower Plant, Construction – Knock in the Nail and an Interview and CV Writing workshop, with two of our Job Coaches.

The pupils were also able to speak with different Apprentices from across the Group, and get an insight into the skills and expectations an employer would want from an applicant.

Following the successful day, the school commented; “Our students gained a valuable first insight into the expectations employers have, including the need for good communication skills and a positive attitude to work reflected by a good attendance and punctuality record. We would like to thank Kathleen Sandford and the rest of the team at TCHG for organising this annual event and for their continuing support, helping students at Baxter”

Worcestershire TeleCare Customer Care

On Tuesday 25th April 2017, our Training and Development Officer, Karen Evans delivered a bespoke Customer Care Workshop, for Worcestershire TeleCare (WTC).

The workshop, which Karen initially designed and delivered in 2016 focuses on telephony-based services and assistive technology.

Since the initially delivery, the workshops have helped raise awareness of WTC’s customers and the challenges they face and positive feedback from customers have increased.

Dress Down Friday

On Friday 28th April 2017, we had our first dress down Friday, in aid of the Kidderminster Food Bank, which is short of supplies. Visitors to Community House also joined in with the spirit of dress down Friday by bringing a gift for the food bank!

Food banks handed out a record number of meals over the last 12 months and need your support wherever possible!

Visit Kidderminster Food Bank’s website for further details on how you can support this important cause; https://kidderminster.foodbank.org.uk/

What Happened During March 2017

National Apprenticeship Week 2017

The 10th National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2017) was celebrated Monday 6th March – Friday 10th March 2017. The week brings together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the success of Apprenticeships, whilst encouraging even more people to choose Apprenticeships. During the week, apprentices from across the Group got involved by attending various events.

We started the week with Ambassadors from across the organisation logging in and listening live to The Big Assembly webinar on Apprenticeships. The webinar was organised by East Midlands and West Midlands Apprentice Ambassador Networks and was targeted at schools, parents and future Apprentices. The Big Assembly was a great success and gave listeners a chance to hear first-hand from Apprentices and employers.

On Wednesday 8th we then supported the Worcestershire Skills Show, along with various other employers, training and apprenticeships organisations from across Worcestershire.  The event which attracted more than 1,600 young people and students was the third held annually. The young people and students in attendance really enjoyed our ‘have a go’ activities; they also found great value in talking to various Apprentices from across the Group about their roles.

And finally, on Friday 10th March we supported Kidderminster Job Centre’s Apprenticeship event. Our Job Coaches were on hand to provide information, advice and guidance on Apprenticeships to job seekers.

Successful Grounds Seasonal Learners

On Monday 20th March 2017 Oakleaf Grounds Services welcomed twelve Seasonal Gardener/Environmental Maintenance Operatives to the team. These Operatives will be working for Oakleaf Grounds providing grounds maintenance and landscaping service during the spring and summer months.

Three of these twelve successful candidates were supported with their applications by our Employment Services Team, either by completing our nine day Employability Programme or attending our Jobs Club.

Apprenticeship Levy Event

On Tuesday 28th March 2017, Learning and Development Manager Karen Lowry-Hall spoke at an Apprenticeship Levy Event, organised by Worcestershire Apprenticeships.

Karen was able to share best practice with local employers, around The Community Housing Group’s Apprenticeship programme and how we are preparing for the Apprenticeship Levy.

 

What Happened During February 2017

Chamber of Commerce Careers Event

On Tuesday 7th February The Community Housing Group (TCHG) supported a careers event, which was organised by the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce at King Charles High School.

The event which was targeted at year 8, year 9 and Sixth Form pupils was a great success. Our TCHG representatives were able to talk to the pupils about post-16 options, including Apprenticeships.

Building Better Opportunities

On the 6th February we welcomed Jo Hodgson, BBO Jobs Coach to the Vestia Training team, over the next two years Jo will work alongside Kirsty Thorpe, who is also a BBO Jobs Coach.

The Jobs Coaches will work 1-1 with participants, supporting them with an agreed individual plan, helping local people move into employment, improving their lives and securing future prosperity.

Building Better Opportunities (BBO) is a European Social Fund (ESF) and Big Lottery funded project which aims to deliver parts of a European Social programme that focuses on employment and skills. The project will be delivered by Fusion, a Housing and Voluntary and Community Sector (VCT) led consortium.

Vestia Community Trust led the work to establish Fusion and acted as lead in the bids to deliver ESF/Lottery contracts in a Worcestershire. The organisations within Fusion are working together to deliver Worcestershire wide programmes and provide better, more comprehensive and coherent services; producing better outcomes for residents in need of help moving into sustainable paid employment.

In addition to Housing and VCS, Fusion also has the support of strategic partners, including the District Councils, Heart of Worcestershire College and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce.

If you know of someone who is long term unemployed or ‘economically inactive’ (not currently seeking employment) and would benefit from BBO support, please contact Vestia at fusion@vestia.org.uk or call 01562 733133 and ask for a member of the Vestia BBO team.