As the cost of social distancing and remote working wears on, it’s vital to remember why we are taking these measures: to protect others, protect ourselves, and to ease the burden on the NHS.
Colleagues from across the Instructus family have shared their applause in support of the great work being done by those in the NHS, care homes, food supply chains and other key roles. These people are working on the front lines, in unfathomably difficult conditions, to ensure that as many of us as possible can make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.
To all of the heroes working out there for all of us – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
On 27th September, 13 members of the Instructus team travelled north to take part in a hike up Kinder Scout, the highest peak in the Peak District.
It was a challenge that took the team to over 2,000 ft above sea level, and one that we undertook to support Johnny’s Happy Place, a not for profit, community interest company based in Kettering.
After an early start (a 6:00 AM meet at the Instructus office in Kettering) we clambered on to a minibus and snoozed our way through the 115-mile journey.
Once we arrived in Edale, we headed off to start our hike at 9:30am making our way to the toughest part – Grindsbrook Clough, where we had to scramble using our hands and feet to make our way up the steep gradient.
We eventually made it to the top of Grindsbrook Clough where there were breath-taking views surrounding us which made the hard work worth it. Unfortunately, the views didn’t last long as the weather took a turn for the worst and it began thundering and hailing. Although this wasn’t great, completing Grindsbrook Clough was enough to keep us going.
The team were given the option to either take the short path or carry on with the longer path that had been planned as the weather conditions only seemed to be getting worse. Yet we remembered what we were doing it for, and everyone stuck together and decided to carry on with the plan.
After a few hours of wading through muddy fords and clambering over rocks, we arrived at the beautiful Kinder Downfall and made our way down to Jacobs Ladder.
Before too long we were back on the bus, cold, soaked to the bone but proud of what we had managed to accomplish.
For a while we have been considering different ways that we can combine development days with charitable projects. After a few discussions, it was agreed that a sponsored hike would be a great way to challenge ourselves.
We chose to work with Johnny’s Happy Place due to the great work that they do within our local community. They aim to provide support to anyone within the community, with a particular focus on well-being. Amongst their services they offer £1 meals, free tea and coffee, pay what you can hairdresser, counselling and more.
The team worked well together and completed the hike in five and a half hours, and thanks to our generous sponsors we smashed our fundraising target of £400. We’re thrilled with the outcome of the hike and so thankful to those who have donated to such a great cause. The rewards of the day definitely outweighed the tough parts and we are already thinking about what we can do next.
This weekend, Fran, Hena and Scarlett visited the Keystone Centre in Kettering to deliver the sponsorship to Johnny’s Happy Place. In total the team raised £475.74 for the charity – an amazing sum that made the wind and rain completely worthwhile.
We’d like to wish a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored and supported our expedition.
At Instructus it’s important that we not only support each other in our organisation, but also support those in our local community. As part of living our values our team have the opportunity to contribute their time and skills to local causes that matter to them.
Alison Timson, our Group HR Advisor spent an afternoon last week putting sixth formers in a local school through their paces. Alison spent the day running mock interview sessions with the students to get them ready for whatever path they choose to take, whether it be employment or university.
This is what Alison had to say on the day…
“It’s amazing what these young people have got involved in and what they’ve already achieved, but they need encouragement to analyse the skills they’ve learned from taking part in a choir, going on a school trip or volunteering.”
“They need to realise that in an interview they have to quickly build rapport with the interviewer and sell themselves. We spend their whole childhood telling them not to talk to strangers and not to show off, and then expect them to behave totally differently in an interview situation.”
“It’s important that young people have an opportunity to try this in a safe setting before they head out into the big wide world for job interviews or interviews for university places.”
A Community Focused Company
Engaging in community activities is a huge part of Instructus life and is something we take pride in. You may have seen that we have worked on a variety of charitable activities from helping out the elderly and local animal shelters, and also through our educational charity projects such as MARS.
Alison’s work fits perfectly with our achievements with the MARS Project as it focuses on bridging the gap between school and working life. We want to ensure that young people are confident in themselves and are ready for any challenge that is waiting for them.
We would like to wish the best of luck to those involved in the mock interviews and anyone else going into working world for the first time!
You may have seen that as part of our training and development days, we love helping out the local community. After spending our last two Instructus development days volunteering at care homes, we decided to switch it up and head down to NANNA’s Animal Rescue on May 23rd.
NANNA (Northamptonshire Animals Needing Nurturing and Adoption) is a small charity located in Irthlingborough, Northants. NANNA care for various animals ranging from Cats and Dogs to Alpaca’s and Pigs, with the hope of re-homing most animals to their “fur-ever” homes.
A team of 11 volunteers clubbed together and headed over to NANNA’s for the day to help out with the different tasks requested from the rescue home. As many of the team at Instructus have a big love for animals, it was clear to see that there was a lot of excitement to get stuck in with the tasks given.
Eloise, one of the volunteers, said “it was really rewarding to see how valued a day of our help was at NANNA, especially as we could help with a variety of tasks and get involved as much as possible”.
Some of our tasks included:
Clearing out the animals
As well as helping out with the workload NANNA had set, Instructus also made a generous donation of cat litter, rabbit food, guinea pig treats and more.
“Working with the team at NANNA’s was really good fun” said Sachin, another volunteer.
“The team there are really friendly and really care for the animals. Not only were we carrying activities to help the animal rescue shelter, but the activities also required us to work in groups which helped us in our communication and team working skills.”
Here at Instructus, we love to make a difference and it was obvious this had been the case at NANNA’S Animal Rescue. It was a credit to be able to help out with tasks that help both the volunteers and animals in the charity.
We are always looking for ways to contribute to our local community. If you have a project or activity that you would like us to volunteer for, please get in touch with us at email@example.com.
This April we rolled out the red carpet for the graduates of the very first Moulton Apprenticeship Readiness Scheme – better known as MARS.
MARS marks our first full-scale project as an educational charity. With employer visits taking place alongside personal development sessions, the project prepares GCSE pupils for the working world in a way that schools can’t do alone. Launched in partnership with Moulton School & Science College, MARS provides a comprehensive primer on real work experience.
On the evening of the 24th we joined the first cohort of pupils at Northampton Filmhouse for a gala graduation ceremony. The event, held before an invite-only crowd of families and educators, was a pure celebration of what the pupils had achieved. As for why we held the event at a cinema? That’s simple – beyond the glamour of the venue, we also wanted to share the pupil’s successes on the biggest screen possible…
Unlocking Student Potential
For their final project the pupils opted to create video presentations about the course. Each group took a unique approach, from slide presentations to stop motion, and their exuberance and energy crackled on the screen. The end result was a kinetic trip through how their own life experiences have readied them for the world beyond school.
Afterwards the pupils took to the stage for their graduation, delivered by HM Lord Lieutenant for Northamptonshire, David Laing.
Speaking on the night Angie Dabbs, Deputy Head Teacher of Moulton School & Science College, said “good career guidance is critical if students are to raise their aspirations and capitalise on the opportunities available to them.”
“The academic curriculum only goes so far in preparing young people for the world beyond the classroom. We very much believe in the whole person, and in unlocking the potential of each student so that they can fulfil their dream. The MARS project, designed by Instructus, fitted that bill perfectly and so we jumped at the chance to be involved.”
“MARS has enabled our pupils to consider the gap between their GCSE subjects and what an employer might be looking for in a trainee or apprentice.”
While we’re excited about future programmes, it’s still sad to say goodbye. We wish these pupils every success in their GCSEs and beyond. Whatever happens next, they’ve enjoyed a layered learning experience that they wouldn’t have otherwise had.
As far as pilot programmes go, this makes the MARS launch an incredible success.
MARS is an educational project for Northamptonshire. If you’re a Northants-based employer or educator and would like to know more we’d love to talk to you.
“I have learned a lot about myself and have enjoyed the programme.”
2018 saw the partnership between the Springboard Consultancy and Streetwise draw to a close. The project, as originally set out here, focused on delivering Springboard training to a group of young, vulnerable women in the North-East, helping to support Streetwise’s charitable focus on the physical and mental health of young people from the area.
The course was delivered between April and June 2018. Following a post-course catch up with the participants, we’re now able to share the impact of this project with you.
Working with Streetwise
“Encouraging and empowering to women in all areas of life.”
Instructus were keen to work with Streetwise due to their fantastic work supporting disadvantaged young people. Streetwise’s aims are very much in-line with our own charitable objectives, and when we started the discussion last year it became clear how we could work together.
With the involvement of licensed Springboard Consultancy trainer Sue Wild, we worked with Streetwise to identify a course that would benefit not only the young women in attendance but also the Streetwise team themselves. The aim of this course was to build their confidence and self-worth and to help change their circumstances for the future.
The Streetwise team identified the beneficiaries through a referral process. These young women accessed the project seeking support and advice on matters including confidence, self-esteem and anxiety. These women were at risk of becoming “invisible” in a busy cityscape, and the demands on them can be greater than they can manage.
“It’s applicable to people in a range of situations and circumstances.”
The project returned positive results, with some specific outcomes for participants including:
Securing a job following the first workshop day.
Realising self-worth and capacity and securing a job with more responsibility.
Finding a new workplace and being happier than in previous employment.
Deciding to follow dream and study Fashion at university.
Asking for a pay rise – and getting it!
The young women have realised their self-worth and are now determined to develop themselves, as shown through their positive feedback on the course.
“I have begun achieving my goals and objectives and continue to work towards them more. I now know it is okay to be proud of myself and my achievements.”
“This programme has been great, and I have experienced being around positive people. I now feel it is possible and worth meeting new people and finding friends.”
“I’ve learned that I have to be the one to make a change in my life and did so by leaving my job I was unhappy in to do better paid temporary work.”
“I have realised my values a lot more and they have become clearer. I have also managed to get a better job while taking part in this programme and I’m glad as I like my new job.”
Training for Everyone
The feedback given by the Streetwise team echoed the young women’s positive appraisal:
“Having experienced these kinds of activities and exercises for ourselves means we can relate in better ways to personal development. We now have more experience at working this way and know what it is like on the receiving end.”
“This will inform our skills in the future in how we work both in one to ones and in group work settings with young people.”
“The opportunity has deepened our tool kits as youth workers and has benefited each of us personally. I feel much more positive and forgiving for myself, I am more assertive and am much more aware of self-care.”
These results showed that all participants met the personal goals that they set at the start of the project.
The young women shared that they had:
Increased their confidence.
Changed their mindsets for the better.
Developed their assertiveness.
Reduced their social isolation and anxiety.
As well as the above many of the women have progressed in their careers, something we had set as a target at the start of the project.
Paving the Way for the Future
“The programme has allowed me to maintain my values whilst also focusing on new things that I’ve realised are important to me.”
Working with Streetwise was a fantastic step for our charitable outreach and paved the way for the work we’ve done since. The positive results that Sue Wild achieved with these women shows the importance of guided personal development; not only for those in a vulnerable position, but also for those that support them.
We have loved every second of working in partnership with Streetwise and would like to wish the participants all the best for the future. We have so much confidence in you!
On Tuesday 24th July (and at the height of the heatwave), nine members of the Instructus team ventured to the Shaw Healthcare site in Kettering to sand and re-varnish garden furniture for the residents to use and enjoy over the remaining summer months.
The home, which provides 24-hour support, cares for up to 60 older people. Residents include the physically frail and those living with a diagnosis of dementia.
“As requested by the service, the volunteers from Instructus varnished and cleaned up our garden furniture which has had a big impact on the appearance of our home. We are very much delighted in your hard work and we are all very appreciative in the work that was carried out”, said Sharmaine Hall, Deputy Manager at Thorndale Care Home.
“All the staff in attendance were professional, polite and had good customer service skills. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your hard work and delicacy.”
We are always looking for ways to contribute to our local community. If you have a project or activity that you would like us to volunteer for, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today marks one year since the official opening of the Instructus head office in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Given the significance of the milestone we’ve taken some time out to reflect on what we’ve achieved so far – and to take a look towards what the future holds…
Moving a business from one part of the country to another is never a straightforward process, but when it became a necessity to change premises CEO Andrew Hammond and the Board of Trustees could see the benefit of looking beyond the M25.
“We knew we wanted more space both for our core work, but also for our subsidiaries to utilise,” Andrew explains when talking about the factors leading to the move.
“Once the decision to relocate was made we evaluated a number of options taking into account such factors as cost, growth, access to population, access to transport, employee availability and access to those staff remaining in the business. As a result, we chose Kettering.”
The move presented an opportunity to review and revise the skillsets in the business, and in the months before the move the management team worked hard to identify and recruit a specific blend of roles and personalities. When the new team came together for the first of two induction days on 13th June 2017, it was the first sign of how well this process had gone.
Digital Marketing Executive Joe Burden remembers the induction well. “Having worked for several different organisations before, the approach that Andrew, Damian and the rest of the management team took towards building a shared culture and environment was a real eye opener.”
“What’s made the biggest difference is how hard they’ve worked to keep their promises and keep the positive environment that we’ve built. Everyone feels a shared ownership of what we do here, and that makes it a great place to work.”
For an organisation dedicated to creating and promoting opportunity, one of the biggest successes of the last 12 months has been the way that we’ve aimed to live our values.
“Instructus is an amazing place to work”, says Fiona Nichol, now Finance Assistant. “When I started I was a Business Support Administrator and within six months of working here I was promoted to Finance Assistant, being first point of contact for staff and customers with regards to invoices and other finance issues.”
“I have been in this role for just over six months now and I love it.”
Francesca Cardew has had a similar experience. “My role has developed massively since I’ve started, more than I thought it would!”
“When I joined my role was a Business Support Administrator, and now I’m the Business Admin Team Leader. Before my main responsibility was processing certificate claims and being first responder for training providers, however now I’ve developed there’s a few (by which I mean a lot) more reports to do – not to mention keeping the Operations team on track.”
“I do feel I’m able to make a difference in my role. As a team we help learners to achieve their goals, while personally I get to plan charity events for the whole company and get us to help in the community.”
While a big part of our time this year has been spent developing the internal culture, we’ve also worked hard to make sure that people outside the charity understand who we are and what we do. The tail end of last year saw the launch of new sites for our subsidiary companies the Springboard Consultancy and Instructus Skills, while the new Instructus site you’re presently on went online in March.
Rebuilding these platforms has been key for us as we start fulfilling our charitable aims, but that’s only part of the process. The real accomplishment has been the support that we’ve been able to give to Streetwise, Karma Nirvana and Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse, three charitable support projects that have already started to yield exciting results.
And this is still just the very start. Behind the scenes we’ve been putting some serious thought into how we can best help to create more opportunities for those who have been underserved and left behind, with one major project about to enter its next phase. The way we intend to deliver on our commitment to our charitable aims is through the hard work and dedication of our team, a message embodied by Andrew’s definition of our success over the last 12 months.
“There’s so much to be proud of, but ultimately it’s our people. We’ve collectively created a great culture and working environment and have built a fantastic team who are performing exceptionally well.”
“The last year has felt like a new beginning for the organisation, and I firmly believe we have built a strong cornerstone for our collective growth for the future, both organisationally and individually.”
Our first year in Kettering has been a success. Here’s to many more like it!
As part of a recent training and development day, the Instructus team ventured out to the Elm Bank Care Home in Kettering for a true sweat and sawdust community activity.
On May 22nd, in scorching heat, the team met at the Elm Bank Care Home in Kettering, managed by Brighterkind, to spend a few hours sanding and varnishing the home’s garden furniture. Over the course of the day the team refurbished 10 pieces of furniture in total, getting through several bottles of water and *one or two* pizzas in the process.
The restoration project, which the whole team took part in (even just in the capacity of moral support), came about following suggestions from the team and the work of engagement officer Francesca Cardew, who liaised with Elm Bank to arrange the activity.
“Working within a care home was something that came up a lot from different people in the office”, Fran said. “It is something that everyone felt passionate about, and everyone felt like they would be making some kind of a difference for the people that need it the most.”
“All of us at Elm Bank are delighted at the fantastic work that had taken place by the team from Instructus”, Home Manager Catherine Frost said.
“We are so grateful for the time taken to refurb our garden furniture, the residents are making the most of it and the lovely weather we have had recently, it has made such a difference to the feel of the garden and a pleasure to sit outside.”