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
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/
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.
Chamber of Commerce Careers Event
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01562 733133 and ask for a member of the Vestia BBO team.
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
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.
Kidderminster JCP 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.
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
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.