Category Archives: What happened during…

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.

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.

 

after

 

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.

 

What Happened During September 2016

Welcome to Grounds Apprentices

On Thursday 1st September 2016 we welcomed six new Grounds Maintenance Apprentices to the organisation, with one more still in recruitment.ogs

These Apprentices have been recruited following the successful completion of our first Grounds Maintenance Apprenticeship Programme back in April 2016.

The new Apprentices will be studying towards a Level 2 in Horticulture over the next two years, whilst working full time in the Oakleaf Grounds team.

Institute of Occupational Safety & Health Managing Safely

During September we delivered a four day IOSH Managing Safely course, this is the second IOSH course we have run this year.

Delivered by Karen Evans, our Training and Development Officer in co-operation with KeyOstas, this course is very important to our business.

It helps our Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders understand their responsibilities, and includes:iosh-ms

  • Introducing Managing Safely
  • Assessing Risks
  • Controlling Risks
  • Understanding Your Responsibilities
  • Identifying Hazards
  • Investigating Accidents and Incidents
  • Measuring Performance
  • Protecting Our Environment

Illegal Money Lending Leaflet Drop

On Monday 19th September 2016 employees from Vestia Community Trust took part in a joint project with the Illegal Money Lending team and West Mercia Police.

Leaflets were delivered to properties in the Sion Hill and Horsefair area to raise the awareness of Loan Sharks. Posters were also placed in local shops, and beermats in the pubs in the areas.

Baxter College Community Project

Over the past few months we have been working closely with Baxter College and Keepmoat organising an on-going Community Project. During September phase one was commenced.

In a quest to revamp Baxter College’s green spaces an un-used area of the playground was transformed in to a seating area using raised flower beds.

We will be returning to Baxter College during October 2016 to fill in the flower beds with the pupils.

baxter-project-phase-1

Showcase of Services for Older People Event

On Thursday 22nd September the Vestia Digital Transformation team attended the Showcase of Services for Older People event in Kidderminster Town Hall with other teams from The digital-transformation-eventCommunity Housing Group.

It was a busy morning talking to visitors about digital transformation, asking about their experiences of going online. Finding out what interest there is in receiving training and support to gain confidence and to stay safe online.

The event was also good opportunity to meet with other organisations attending, building working relationships to aid people around Wyre Forest to get online.

 

West Midlands Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (WMAAN) Meeting

On Friday 23rd September 2016 we hosted a WMAAN meeting. Vikki Greenfield, Head of Learning and Development at Vestia, is the Chair of the WMAAN, and Karen Lowry-Hall, Learning and Development Manager is also a key ambassador.wmaan-logos

The Community Housing Group supports this Network alongside other West Midland based organisations such as Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, Midland Heart, Fortis Living, Sanctuary Group, Jaguar Land Rover, QHotels, BT and The Automobile Association.

The aim of the West Midlands Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network is to grow the Apprenticeships programme by engaging new employers through business to business engagement.

 

 

What Happened During August 2016

National Apprenticeship Service Awards Judging

On Friday 12th August 2016, Karen Lowry-Hall and Kathleen Sandford took part in the judging panel for the National Apprenticeships Service Awards 2016.

They spent the morning at Volvo in Warwick with other Apprentice Ambassadors deciding the winners and the highly commended applicants for the West Midlands region.apprenticeships-logo

Karen said; “It’s great to see the high standard of Apprentices we have in the West Midlands region”. The award winners will be announced on Wednesday 5th October 2016, at the Midlands Regional Apprenticeship Awards.

Employment Services

During August we ran the first two Employability courses of the 16/17 academic year. These rooftop-logoincluded an On Your Marks employability course, and an Employability SBWA, in conjunction with Rooftop Housing.

In total 13 learners completed these courses up to certificate level, where they received help with finding work, interview techniques and creating a winning CV.

 

Welcome to New Apprentices

On Monday 22nd August 2016 we welcomed Sam Neal, a Housing Apprentice to the Apprenticeship Programme. Sam will be working in the Wyre Forest Community Housing, Housing Needs team, whilst studying towards a Level 3 qualification in Housing Studies.

On Tuesday 30th August 2016 we also welcomed Connor McGonigle, a Business and Administration Apprentice. Connor will be studying towards a Level 2 qualification in Business and Administration whilst working in the Administration team within Oakleaf Commercial Services.