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.
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.
The real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to the costs of living. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers that wish to ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on, higher than the government minimum. Since 2011 the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 160,000 people and put over £800m extra into the pockets of low paid workers.
This accreditation covers Instructus Skills, CQM Training & Consultancy and the Springboard Consultancy.
With our focus on giving people of all ages access to skills development and employment, earning a Living Wage accreditation is a huge step towards demonstrating our values through our actions.
Tess Lanning, Director, Living Wage Foundation said: “We’re delighted that Instructus has joined the movement of over 4,700 responsible employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff earn enough to live on.
“These businesses recognise that paying the real Living Wage is the mark of a responsible employer and they, like Instructus, believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”
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.
In June our first course for victims of domestic abuse concluded with participants reporting encouragingly positive results. The course, which took place in Oxford, saw Instructus partner with Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse, a support service that develops and delivers services for those affected by domestic abuse in Oxfordshire.
Undertaken by Springboard Consultancy trainer Pat Miller, it is the first of our charitable projects to reach completion.
From the evaluation, 100% of the participants reported feeling more confident and that they had more control over their futures.
The Results in Full
In addition to the impressive results, participants were enthusiastic about the benefits of undertaking the course. Feedback included:
“I really enjoyed the programme. I gained a positive understanding of certain aspects that have taken place in my life. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I now have taken my past and allowed it to make a stronger version of me.”
“Overall it was an amazing experience, and I would highly recommend it for all age groups and backgrounds. Although I was the youngest of the group, I felt my opinions were still valued and that is important.”
“An amazing course that has enriched and enlivened me at such an important and significant time.”
With the Oxford programme we were also able to support Yellow Submarine, a charity that supports children and adults with learning disabilities and autism. They provided the catering for the programme which was co-staffed by adults with learning disabilities, providing them with employment and opportunities to learn and grow as individuals.
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!
Research indicates that 1 in 4 UK women will be a victim of domestic violence at some point in their lives, with up to 80% of those returning to abusive relationships.
The rate of domestic violence cases is increasing year-on-year, showing a national need to support the underserved victims who would not otherwise receive the support they need to permanently break free from domestic abuse.
Instructus have partnered with Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse and trainer Pat Miller to provide a Springboard Consultancy course to victims of domestic abuse in Oxfordshire. Further partnerships working with Aspire Oxford and A2Dominion Housing Group provided a venue and further referrals for the course. With government funding cuts for services there are no other resources available to fund this type of empowerment programme.
Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse is a local support service that develops and delivers services for those affected by domestic abuse in Oxfordshire. They also provide training across the UK, with a nationally recognised multi-agency approach to tackling abuse and exploitation. It’s their aim to develop a coordinated approach to keeping people safe.
Additional courses are being supported by Instructus and planned in Milton Keynes (in partnership with MK-Act Domestic Abuse Intervention Services) and Kettering. In total, we expect to support over 30 women who have been victims of domestic abuse.
The intended aims of the workshops are:
Reduce the rate that women return to abusive relationship from 80%. Pat’s previous courses have reduced this to 11%.
Give delegates increased confidence, self-esteem and optimism for the future.
Create safe social groups for the delegates, providing extra support both during the course and beyond.
As this project is in progress the specific outcomes are not yet known. However, the workshops that have already been running have reported positive results in terms of improved confidence, community building and providing a supportive network.
When Instructus was born in 2016, we were only at the start of our journey.
As a charity we have always been committed to advancing education for the public benefit through the promotion of qualifications, training and skills; a remit we have delivered on for two decades through our work as a skills sector body. Yet with the acquisitions of CQM Training & Consultancy and the Springboard Consultancy, the Board of Trustees believed that we could do more for those underserved and left behind by society.
According to research undertaken by UK Data Service over one in three people without qualifications are living in poverty in the UK. Against a backdrop of continued austerity, rising education costs and stagnating youth employment rates there are fewer opportunities available for those who need them.
This is where Instructus can help. The expertise we offer through our brands uniquely places us to empower people to move their lives forward. Whether you want to use a single course for a specific purpose or several courses as a blended end-to-end service, we’re expanding our remit to help people learn new skills and earn relevant qualifications.
This is available as a funded or part-funded package for qualifying charities, community groups or other organisations, giving us a way to reinvest in social projects and causes where we can make a positive impact.
If you work for a non-qualifying organisation we would still love to hear from you – particularly if you would like to work with a supplier that can help you to reach your CSR targets while delivering world-class personal development training.
In 2017 our journey took us from London to our new premises in Kettering, Northamptonshire, where several new faces joined the team. We’ve relaunched our online presence, and as well as our current programmes we have several exciting projects in the works.
Yet these changes are all founded on an unwavering commitment to our values. The last few years have taken us closer to our aim of making a difference for those that need it – and now we’re ready to take that journey one step further.