Day 18 – March 10, 2015 Today was my first meeting with Changing our Lives …
Day 6 – February 26, 2015; 2nd visit to the Prince’s Trust
Today I made it by myself to the Custard Factory and had to fight somewhat with the British weather as I made my way against a sudden downpour or two! Thank goodness for the loan of Sonia’s umbrella! After arriving feeling somewhat damp and cold, I was pleased to accept the offer extended by Alex Lamb, Outcomes Manager, for a ‘cuppa’!! I have learnt that there is nothing that a cup of tea cannot fix!!
Alex succinctly explained for me his role which includes helping to ensure that the ‘end goals’ of employment, enterprise, education or volunteering are achieved by participants. Step one is to match people and programmes to available opportunities – what sectors are growing and where, who is employing and at what rate are some of the questions that are asked while mining government data on companies and organizations region by region.
Interestingly, organization and business partners are not just invited to become involved by appealing to their Corporate Social Responsibility, but by making a business case to them so that their engagement is sustainable – meet their needs and they will be encouraged to be a long-term partner! Alex also explained the key methodology for post programme surveys of participants is via texting at intervals of 3, 6 and 12 months. Participants are told they will be sent a survey to complete and are assured there are no costs for their responses. Arrangements with the ISPs are undertaken and paid for by the Trust. A 35-40% response rate is the norm.
My second appointment was with Taslima Akbar, Project Manager for the Mental Health project which targets young people referred by the National Health Service. This pilot programme is in its 3rd and final year. The programme which has as one of its objectives to reduce the stigma of mental health, has two components:
1) Vocational – this includes one-on-one intensive support to assist these young persons who are suffering from mental health issues such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety as well as disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, and who are under clinical supervision and medication. They are assisted to develop a career plan, interviewing skills, a resume, etc. Placements are also arranged.
2) Social Inclusion – most are suffering from exclusion and have been living isolated lives. The programme is geared to assist them in developing self-confidence while being away from their home environment, while travelling and being with other people.
After speaking to Taslima, I was offered a ‘bonus’ – to spend a few minutes with “Monty” who is in charge of all the ‘adventure activities’ included in the programmes of the Trust. The use of these activities is important in helping young people to make the link between their actions and immediate consequences of their actions. The ‘challenges’ are also meant to stretch them and push them beyond their boundaries and preconceived notions of themselves. Apart from the residential ‘challenges’ that are included in the Fairbridge and TEAM programmes, these ‘activity-based’ components include for example, in the Get Started programme, three recognized certifications – First Aid, Sports Leader (level one towards Fitness Instructor/Coach) and Safe-Guarding (a preventative safety course).
Interestingly, I learnt that neuro linguistic programming (NLP) is used quite extensively – for example, meta modelling to get specifics to challenge deletions, distortions and generalizations; chunking up, down and laterally; Ericksonian techniques for guided relaxation, visualization and learning; Perceptual Positions to sort out blocks and assist in goal setting and future pacing and of course, SMART goal setting for increasing effectiveness and accountability. Wow!! Apparently several original implementers of the Fairbridge programme were NLP trained and have seen good results from their efforts.
The afternoon was spent having another delightful ‘Yumm’ meal and then meeting Shivani Nana of the Prince’s Trust who was monitoring the Get Into programme participants placed at Marks and Spencers. Must say that these young people seem very much at home after only 3 days and are fully engaged in their respective duties … they don’t know it yet but, if they are successful on the programme, Marks and Spencers will offer them 3-month part-time paid placements! (Hope they all do VERY well!).
This afternoon the sun came out, slowly sinking as my fellow bus passengers and I wended our way slowly home through the peak hour traffic…a normal journey of 25 minutes extending beyond the hour. Finally, the familiar gas station ahead; a sigh of relief, knowing that home is just around the corner. The close of yet another productive day!