Author Archives: Kathleen Sandford

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.

What Happened During January 2017

Employment Services

During January 2017 we ran our eleventh and twelfth On Your Marks programmes, in partnership with the Job Centre. Seventeen learners successfully completed these courses up to certificate level, and four of these learners have already secured paid employment.

During the nine day programme learners receive help and advice with finding work, CV writing, mock interviews and a recognised qualification.

One learner who was very satisfied with the course said; “This course was really useful for me, as I haven’t attended an interview for over eight years. I learnt how to be more confident with interviews and how to prepare for them”.

National Apprenticeship Service Awards Finals & Top 100

On Friday 20th January 2017 the national finals of the National Apprenticeship Services Awards 2016 were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

Kathleen Sandford, Learning and Development Administrator and Vikki Greenfield, Head of Learning and Development were on the judging panel for the National Awards and represented for The Community Housing Group (TCHG) on the evening, along with Karen Lowry-Hall,
Learning and Development Manager and Evie Brookes, Assistant Human Resources Advisor.

During the awards the Centrica Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer list was announced and TCHG are very proud to be recognised on this prestigious list for the fourth year running.

Compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service, the list recognises excellence in businesses that employ apprentices. After a competitive selection process, the most exceptional Apprenticeship employers from all of the National Apprenticeship Awards categories went forward to feature in the list, which showcases the breadth of employers who now offer Apprenticeships.

I.T Beginners Course

During January 2017 we started an eight week I.T beginners course for nine local residents, in–conjunction with Heart of Worcestershire College.

The course which will cover the basics of using a computer will run one session per week for eight weeks.

Our I.T learners are now on week seven and they have made great progress so far, including setting up their own email addresses and using the internet.

Inter Generations Worcester Launch Event

On Friday 27th January 2017 a launch event for Inter Generations Worcester was held at The Hive, Worcester. Inter Generations Worcester, a partnership between Vestia Community Trust (part of The Community Housing Group) and the University of Worcester, is a home sharing scheme which matches people aged 55 and over who have a spare room in their home with students from the University. In exchange for accommodation, the student agrees to spend at least 10 hours per week with the householder and provide companionship or support in the home for everyday tasks.

The event, which was opened by Elizabeth Mills OBE, the Honorary Director of Homeshare International also saw Guest speaker, Sophie Pryce, from Age UK’s Reconnections service, welcome the new scheme.

Marina Banner, Executive Director Vestia & Corporate Services, said: “Although the team carry out regular visits and checks to make sure that everything is running smoothly and help to resolve any issues, we find that once a pattern has been established in the household, the support needed is minimal. We are very encouraged by the positive response we have received from the participants and their families so far and look forward to welcoming new home sharers.”

Cllr John Smith, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Worcestershire County Council, added: “We are delighted to be supporting this pilot project.  This is a great example of the council working innovatively with partners to develop ways for older people to live well in their own homes. While it is a new solution for the county, there has been success in other countries with this type of solution.  Worcestershire has a large number of university students and isolated older people, so this solution should make perfect sense.”

Find further information about Inter Generations Worcester on their website; www.vestia.org.uk/intergen.

What Happened During December 2016

Kidderminster JCP Event

On Friday 2nd December 2016 Vestia Training’s Employment Services team supportedjob-centre-logo Kidderminster Job Centre’s employment event.

During the event we were able to speak to Wyre Forest residents about finding employment with support from Vestia Community Trust.

IOSH Managing Safely

During December we ran our third IOSH Managing Safely course of 2016, in-conjunction with KeyOstas.

This 4 day course is delivered by Karen Evans, our Training and Development Officer and helps iosh-msour Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders understand their responsibilities around health and safety.

In total 17 managers have successfully completed the course in 2016, this is a great achievement for us.

West Midlands Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (WMAAN) Meeting

On Friday 9th December 2016 the WMAAN met for the fourth time during 2016.wmaan-logos

The Community Housing Group supports this Network alongside other West Midland based organisations in an aim to grow the Apprenticeship programme.

The meeting, chaired by Vikki Greenfield, Head of Learning and Development was hosted by Sanctuary Group, and important items such as the Apprenticeship Levy and National Apprenticeship Week were discussed.

The Community Housing Group Learning and Development Awards 2016

On Thursday 22nd December 2016 we held our annual Learning and Development awards. These awards are a celebration of the fantastic achievements during the past year including, Professional Qualifications, Work Based Learning and Apprenticeships.

At The Community Housing Group Learning and Development continues to be an important part of our culture. The Board and Director team recognise skilled employees are vital in delivering our business plans and to the sustainability and growth of our organisation.

Everyone recognised at the awards worked extremely hard to achieve their individual qualifications whilst holding down busy day jobs. Their dedication and commitment to achieve their qualifications is to be admired.

l&d-awards

 

What Happened During November 2016

Employment Services

During November 2016 we ran our eighth, ninth and tenth On Your Marks programmes, ines-figure conjunction with the Job Centre.

The 9 day programme which involves CV writing, mock interviews and confidence building is available to all Wyre Forest residents who are aged 19+.

In total thirteen learners successful completed the programme during November, this is a great achievement for us, and pushes our total number of completions for the 16/17 academic year up to 56.

National Apprenticeship Service awards Judging

During November colleagues from Vestia Training, Vikki Greenfield, Head of Learning and Development, and Kathleen Sandford, Learning and Development Administrator took part in the National Judging for the National Apprenticeship Awards 2016.

This was a great experience for Vikki and Kath as they continue to support the National Apprenticeship Service and promote apprentices in the region.

TCHG Managing Safely Refresher

On Wednesday 2nd November 2016 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;

“much better than IOSH as more specific to company and job role”

“useful to be focused directly on TCHG approach rather than generic”

ContinU Schools Apprenticeship Seminar

On Thursday 3rd November 2016 Vestia supported the ContinU Schools Apprenticeship Seminar at Kidderminster College.

continu-plusKathleen Sandford, Learning and Development Administrator from Vestia Training and ex Apprentice spoke at the event about her journey.

Kath completed her Level 2 Apprenticeship with Kidderminster College, and then progressed on to higher level qualifications.

The event was well attended by pupils from local high schools, during which they heard from local Apprenticeship providers, employers and Apprentice ambassadors. The pupils were also given the opportunity to ask questions during a Q&A section of the Seminar.

Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards 2016

The finals of the Worcestershire Apprentice Awards were held on 18th November at West Midlands Safari Park, our colleague Evie Brookes was up for Higher Apprentice of the Year 2016, following the completion of her Level 5 Apprenticeship in Human Resource Management.

Although not winning this particular award, getting to the finals was a great achievement as Evie has been our first Degree level apprenticeship success.

Also on the night Vikki Greenfield, Head of Learning and Development, and Kathleen Sandford, Learning and Development Administrator took part in a live Q&A representing Vestia and TCHG.

This was a great opportunity as it enabled us to showcase our achievements and successes since being named Employer of the Year at last year’s awards.kath-and-vikki-on-stageworcs-apprentices

 

 

 

What Happened During October 2016

National Apprenticeship Service – Regional Awards 2016 Success

On Wednesday 5th October 2016 employees from The Community Housing Group (TCHG) attended the National Apprenticeship Service Regional Apprenticeship Awards held at Sketchley Grange Hotel in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

The Awards, now in their thirteenth year, are run by the National Apprenticeship Service and nas-regional-photo-2016recognise excellence in two areas: businesses that grow their own talent with apprentices and apprentices who have made a significant contribution to their workplaces.

During the ceremony TCHG were named West Midlands Large Employer of the Year 2016, a great achievement for the Group.

Marina Banner, Executive Director of Vestia and Corporate Services at TCHG, commented: “This is another fantastic result for the company. Our apprentice scheme is one which we cherish and value. Our apprentices are our employees and managers of the future and it is a great progression route, providing them and our business with the skills and qualifications needed to succeed in today’s competitive market”.

Job Centre Plus Event

On Friday 7th October 2016 Vestia Training’s Employment Services team supported Kidderminster Job Centre with an 18-24 In to Work Event.

Claimants were able to meet various employers, agencies and training providers from the local job-centre-logoarea, giving them a chance to find out information on upcoming employment opportunities, training courses and Apprenticeships.

The event was a success for us; we were able to recruit a number of claimants on to our Employment Services course, where we will be able to support them further.

Baxter College Community Project

Back in September we commenced a community project at Baxter College in-conjunction with Keepmoat. During phase one of the project we transformed an un-used section of the playground in to a seating area using raised flower beds.

On Wednesday 19th October 2016 we returned to Baxter College to complete phase one, where we spent the morning filling in the flower beds with some Baxter College pupils and were able to get some pupils from the Wyre Forest School involved.

We were given the opportunity to promote Apprenticeships and talk to the Baxter College pupilsandy-pupil about the importance of GCSE’s.

The pupils also got a chance to hear first-hand from Andy Snowdon. Andy, an ex-pupil of Baxter College started his Apprenticeship with us back in September 2016. He is now working as a Grounds Maintenance Apprentice in the Oakleaf Grounds Team; he previously completed two years of work experience, one day per week, with the team whilst at school. Andy found the school environment challenging and was therefore given this opportunity by TCHG and Oakleaf.  This gave him the chance to complete his GCSE’s, whilst gaining valuable grounds maintenance experience, which will now help him excel over the next two years.

 

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West Midlands Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (WMYAAN) Meeting

On Friday 28th October 2016 employees from The Community Housing Group attended the third WMYAAN meeting, held at the Skills Funding Agency in Birmingham.

Kathleen Sandford, Learning and Development Administrator at Vestia Training is the Chair of the Network, and Evie Brookes, Assistant HR Advisor is also an active member.

The Community Housing Group supports this Network alongside other West Midland based organisations such as Jaguar Land Rover, BT, Sanctuary Housing and the AA.

The aim of the West Midlands Young Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network is to grow the Apprenticeships programme by promoting all aspects of Apprenticeships. Ambassadors do this by attending/supporting events, promoting Apprenticeships online and talking amongst colleagues and/or peers.

Following on from this meeting, we joined Twitter @WestMidsYAAN and created a personalised email account (Info@WMYAAN.co.uk).

If you have an interest in this Network send us an email, we welcome all Apprentices from within the West Midlands.

Welcome to Luke Skett, our Grounds Maintenance Apprentice

On Monday 24th October 2016 we welcomed Luke Skett, the latest Apprentice to join our ogsProgramme. Luke is the last Grounds Maintenance Apprentice to be recruited for this year’s Programme.

Over the next two years Luke will be working towards a Level 2 in Horticulture, whilst working full time in the Oakleaf Grounds team.