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MOTW Staff Workshop – January 2022

computer screen showing peoples faces in a conference call with a plant also on the table

On Thursday 13th January, MOTW hosted their first All Staff Workshop of 2022.  These workshops are a great opportunity for staff across programme to come together and learn about different services, organisations, and available support for our participants across the region.

Annemarie from Springboard was our first guest speaker.  Springboard help people of all ages and backgrounds improve their career potential in hospitality, leisure, and tourism – especially young people in education and adults who experience barriers to employment or who are returning to work.

MOTW staff were told all about the Destination Hospitality Programme, funded by Savoy Hotels Education Project.  It’s a great stepping point to help our participants get into hospitality and will give them an indication as to what’s involved and what the possibilities are in this line of work.  The three-week course is based in Newcastle but delivered online, so is open to everyone.

Prior to the course starting Annemarie takes the time to ensure everyone is comfortable with the IT equipment they’re using and confident in their abilities to access the course.

This is a great addition to the service, especially as some of our participants struggle with their digital abilities.  Included in the course is the opportunity for participants to hear from industry guest speakers who’ll talk about their roles, their career journeys, and the benefits of working within the industry.  Participants will also spend time with an ambassador who will conduct mock interviews and provide feedback and guidance to strengthen future applications.

Anyone who attends the course is given the skills and ammunition to produce quality CVs and cope with interviews, meaning they leave the course in an excellent position to begin work in the industry.  Springboard also give people the opportunity to gain industry recognised qualifications, which is a huge bonus for our participants as it could help them stand out from the crowd and feel confident in any application they’re putting forward.

Another brilliant thing about Springboard is that they recognise that not everyone is able to complete a three-week online course!  They offer face-to-face training, and for anyone with additional learning needs they can attend the same course but over a longer period of time.  This was a welcome addition to the offer as it opens up the opportunities available to our participants who would need this additional support.

Regardless of what course a participant chooses, and regardless of the duration of the course, Annemarie has promised to maintain contact and help our participants as much as she can.  By keeping in touch she will help them find suitable jobs and support them with their applications, providing expert advice and guidance.

The second guest speakers of the Workshop were Naomi and Graham from Clean Slate who have signed up to support MOTW participants with financial capability support for the duration of 2022.  They were keen to come along to this workshop to introduce themselves, explain how to refer participants to them and talk through the typical areas of support that they offer.

They adopt a two-way approach and want to assist MOTW participants in a way that suitable for both parties.  This is brilliant, as some of our participants are only comfortable with digital conversations and communication whereas others prefer meeting face-to-face.  When talking about their service Naomi and Graham describe it as:

helping with anything that affects people’s pockets

They only touch upon finances but recognise that the burdens and stresses of financial worries do have an impact on people’s mental health.  The different elements of their service include:

  • Lots of budgeting work – they like to try and get everyone to a sustainable, realistic budget according to their needs.
  • Debt advice – they help people come to terms with priority and non-priority debt and discuss sustainable, reasonable, and affordable solutions.  They’ll explain what they’re doing, what things mean, and what the consequences and benefits of each stage is so participants can get a better grip on their finances and understand what is happening.
  • Credit choices – they help people understand the better credit options available to them and highlight the consequences of poorer choices.  This will help futureproof someone’s finances and put them in a better position for remaining financially stable in the future.
  • Savings – this might seem unachievable for people in financial difficulty, but Naomi and Graham are advocates for saving money in order to pay for things, rather than using credit.
  • Utility advice – energy prices are increasing, with an estimate of £60 extra a month per household now being spent on gas and electric.  They’ll help people keep on top of payments and support them with any applications for benefits/discounts/support depending on the latest government announcements.
  • Benefits – they’ll help our participants understand the impact of employment on their benefits, what this means to their income and support them with any further benefit applications – ensuring they’re always getting the support that they’re entitled too.

Clean Slate also offer bespoke advice depending on their clients’ requirements so our participants could benefit from help with PIP Claims, ASA Claims, understanding the impact of Apprenticeship Schemes on benefits and whether to apply for Bankruptcy to name but a few.

The service is thorough, flexible, and supportive – Naomi and Graham are knowledgeable, friendly and spoke passionately about their holistic approach to helping people.  Whatever is important to our participant is important to them, and they don’t want people to leave Clean Slate without receiving support on every aspect of their finances.  This takes time, and our participants are able to talk to the experts on a regular basis, for as long as they need in order to get the correct support and the best possible outcome.

Our final speaker was Lee from the Princes Trust Team at Newcastle United Foundation.  This fantastic service has been a stable part of our region for many years, yet the myth is that you have to be a football fan, and from Newcastle, in order to sign up and benefit from the support on offer.  However, this is not the case!  Anyone from our region can attend, and Lee told us that they…

use the power of the NUFC badge, not the sport, to make a difference.

They’ll soon be opening a brand-new building for their programme, just 5 minutes’ walk from St James’ Park.  This bigger space will help them support more young people and allow them to incorporate as much physical activity as they can.  They currently have 5 teams of staff running the programme with staggered starts, so anyone referred into the service will never be too far away from a programme beginning.

The programme they have on offer is a 12-week employability programme, which focuses on personal development.  Their age range is 16-25 years old, so not all of our participants are able to attend, however for our younger participants it’s a great opportunity.  The course consists of 7 different areas around team work, work experience, working in the community and supporting others.  They’ve seen a huge rise in young people with poor mental health as a result of the pandemic and have found that having a routine and a purpose can really help to get them back on their feet and boost their confidence and outlook.

The programme organises site visits and work tours to businesses across the region, taking the participants into these places of work to give them an idea of what life would be like in that environment.  They have strong links with the Maldron hotel in Newcastle, and some existing members of staff went through the same programme in previous years.  These staff members, and the hotel manager will talk to participants about their journey, what it’s like working in the industry and give them hope for the future.

In Weeks 3-4 participants are invited to attend a round of mock interviews, in a round-robin fashion.  Participants will sit in front of 7-8 employers, including HR managers from big companies such as the NHS, Tesco, Asda, and hotels from around the region.  They’ll get instant feedback and as they’re surrounded by their peers and staff, they’ll benefit from group support too.  Whilst this might not sound appealing to some of our participants, Lee assured us that by this point in the programme the participants have formed a bond with their peers and are willing to step out of their comfort zones to take part and help each other out.

In Weeks 11-12 the same interviewers come back and conduct more mock interviews.  The change, progression, and increased confidence in participants by that point in the course is always noticeable and by the end of the 12 weeks everyone is more confident in their abilities and have a positive outlook on the future.  Each participant leaves the course with a Nationally recognised Level 1 qualification and can move towards employment with the skills, knowledge and support network to help them succeed.

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