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.
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.
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.
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 recognise 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 area, 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.
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.
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.
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
Over the next two years Luke will be working towards a Level 2 in Horticulture, whilst working full time in the Oakleaf Grounds team.
Welcome to Grounds Apprentices
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.
- 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.
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 Community 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.
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.