Charity Job Finder Blog

How looking after yourself can improve your work and lifestyle

Co-written by Nadine Lock, People Officer and Gail Hughes, Health & Wellbeing Advisor (Tenovus Cancer Care)

With the cold nights drawing in surely we’re not the only ones who’ve gone into ‘hibernation mode’ and can easily find excuses why we’re letting our gym sessions slide. After all what’s the harm in it? There’s always tomorrow, right?

But how often do we find that tomorrow never comes? Slowly but surely time ticks by, the weight piles on and we feel sluggish and tired as we hunker down for the wintery months ahead. Our intentions of getting back on track seem to slip slowly through our fingers and soon enough we’re paying out for a monthly gym membership we just never use.

This time of year though is the start of ‘cold and flu season’, summer holidays are over, salad lunches have been replaced by hearty soups, stews and stodge and we’re all back at our desks brewing up cold and flu germs.

According to Frost and Black “Sickness absence from work is often unavoidable, but when unduly prolonged it is wasteful and damaging – to individuals and their families, employers and our wider society.” 1 So, we can see that an unhealthy lifestyle can have a big impact on us inside and outside of work.

Our body is a finely tuned machine which needs to be cared for properly whatever your age, although the earlier we start the better. Whilst we all own an amazing piece of kit which will generally put up with a little less attention than a Ferrari and still keep working, if we don’t service it regularly it’s likely to be in the garage more than we want or worse still in the scrap yard.
Modern life is busy, whether we are young or old, and there’s always a reason why we don’t think we have time to exercise, eat well or look after our health in general and getting sick is just par for the course. However, if we give some thought about how we can fit good health behaviours into our lives we could make wellness a normal part of things and really improve our overall lifestyle and how we function at work.

Here’s the number crunching bit

The odd sick day from work is to be expected but what if these start stacking up? Surely our managers are going to start wondering what’s happening? And after a while wouldn’t you start to worry that there’s something bigger going on and it’s time to do something about it?
Human Resources industry markers of ‘good practice’ Xpert HR carried out surveys in 20152 looking at sickness absence in the UK workforce. They highlighted a pan UK business trend in increasing sickness absence levels and sickness absence costs:

table1
As we can see the increase in costs and time lost because of sickness absence is definitely something we should all be aware of in economically challenging times and a new political landscape ahead of us.

So how does all of this relate to work?

Well, looking at it from an employer’s and wider point of view research findings around sickness absence across UK businesses tell us that:

  • Sickness absence rates are increasing year on year across all sectors
  • Sickness absence costs are increasing year on year for organisations and the government
  • Sickness absence rates are highest in less physically demanding jobs in the public & health sectors (closely followed by the Third Sector) and lowest in the manufacturing sectors
  • The larger the organisation the higher the sickness absence rate
  • Organisations that monitor and record their sickness absence rates are more proactive in tackling sickness absence issues and take a preventative approach
  • Long Term sickness absence (4 weeks or more continuous absence) is mainly attributed to musculoskeletal conditions and acute medical conditions i.e. cancer, diabetes, stroke & heart conditions and mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression
  • There is a growing trend in UK organisations for Health & Wellbeing initiatives to combat long term sickness absence

 

Looking into the Stats

Long terms sickness absence levels are rising and affecting the national economy and labour workforce. We can look further into this to learn about action we could take to prevent certain conditions as much as we can. So it’s important for us to identify what the issues are as well as what we can do to support people who are not working due to long terms sickness.
Looking at the Xpert HR survey’s findings over 2 years from 375 HR practitioners it is clear what the most common causes of long term sickness absence across the private, public and manufacturing sectors are in the UK:

graph1

Over 70% of employers reported that acute medical conditions and mental health are the reason for long term sickness absence in their organisations.
This trend is also reflected in the CIPD’s 2015 Annual Survey Report3 of 578 organisation responses relating to 1.5 million employees. They also noted the same most common causes of long term sickness absence which places acute medical conditions such as cancer, heart attack and stroke and mental health as something we should be concerned about doing all we can to prevent.

Are things really all that bad?

Interestingly the CIPD survey links with a Labour Source Survey for the Office for National Statistics4 to contextualise a reported drop in short term sickness absence levels. Their findings showed that workers with management responsibility had lower sickness absence levels than those with no management responsibility.

But it’s not all good news as these workers reported they don’t feel able to take sickness absence due to work commitments such as looming deadlines and this hints at insecurity about their job. Looking beyond this employers across all sectors reported an increase of workplace presenteeism (people turning up to work when they’re not well enough to do their job properly and so are less productive).

Presenteeism hints at stress in the workplace and ultimately long term sickness absence and impacts on our lifestyle and overall sense of wellness. When asked about the increase in long term stress-related absences people cited workload, non-work relationships and management style as contributing factors to this type of absence. Considering that this seems to tell us we’re working more it points to people being less active and not feeling good while clocking up the hours at their desk often in less physically demanding jobs.
The report also highlights that as people get older they’re more likely to develop acute and chronic health problems and UK sickness absence rates tend to increase with age with a large rise in the number of people continuing to work beyond their state pension age.

So what we can see is that we’re a growing and ageing workforce who are less fit & healthy and something needs to give.

So what do the health professionals have to say about it then?

Obesity

Worryingly, 1 in 20 cancers in the UK are linked to obesity or being overweight and this may well increase in the future as the number of people who are overweight increases. As a nation we’re less mobile, we eat lunch at our desks and are a ‘fast food generation’ typically addicted to salt, high fat and sugar content.

Health experts have proven that exercise boosts our mood and sense of wellness which in turn helps us manage stress much better and reduces the risk of anxiety and depression. Added to this if we exercise regularly and eat healthy foods we’re likely to be sharper, more clear thinking and more productive at work whilst having extra energy and a sense of greater control over our lives.
To really feel the benefit of a healthy and balanced diet and exercise programme adults need 150 minutes of exercise per week. So we need to get up from our desks, get moving and watch what we eat.

Smoking

Smoking accounts for 1 in 4 cancer deaths in the UK. 4 in 5 lung cancers are caused by smoking and it has the lowest survival rate of all cancers. The chemicals in tobacco damage DNA in cells and enter the blood stream so smoking can affect the whole body. This can cause many diseases including at least 14 types of cancer, heart disease and various lung diseases.

There are real gains to health and lower healthcare associated costs to be made by supporting people to quit smoking and make for healthy staff:

  • After 1 year: Risk of heart disease is about half compared with a person who is still smoking
  • After 10 years: Risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker
  • After 15 years: Risk of heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked

Aside from the facts it is well known that smoking is bad for your health but sometimes smokers may not realise the full extent of the harm they are doing to their health. There are lots of very good reasons to quit this habit as smoking is the most important preventable cause of cancer in the world.

Alcohol

Alcohol drinking causes an estimated 4% of cancer cases in the UK each year. Reducing average alcohol intake in England by around one unit per person per day would avoid an estimated 8% of cancer deaths. So, if the after work glass of wine or beer starts creeping up on you to be a regular thing that’s when alcohol starts to give our body a hard time. Regularly drinking over the guidelines of 14 units per week for both men and women can lead to serious health problems including liver damage, a greater risk of getting cancer or having a heart attack. Besides this it will ruin your calorie controlled diet as it’s full of calories.

If you drink 10 pints a week, you could be taking on more than 120,000 calories a year. And there are more calories in a single measure of spirits than in the same volume of single cream. So if you cut back you’ll start to feel in better shape and not suffer from the effects of a hangover the next day.
On top of this, because regular drinking can affect your immune system, heavy drinkers can have more problems with infectious diseases, so cutting down will allow your system to fight off bugs more easily which boosts your general health.

There’s a strong link between drinking quite a bit over the low risk guidelines and feeling depressed or anxious, because alcohol works as a depressant drug on your nervous system. A hangover will often include feelings of anxiety and feeling low. If you’re prone to feeling depressed, alcohol may worsen this.

So, all in all being overweight or obese, smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may have a negative impact on how you feel generally, your attendance and performance at work as well as your overall lifestyle.

We’ve got the data. So what use is that then?

It’s great that we see reports that organisations have a good handle of where they stand with their people’s sickness absence. It’s even better that they’re asking the ‘why’ questions around the causes of absence and gathering data to help them deal with these issues. But just what do they do with it?

table2

The research shows that organisations are reacting to sickness issues as they happen but there is a shift in thinking towards organisations responding responsibly to the increase in long term sickness absence levels and costs and looking to put in place preventative and supportive measures.

This can be seen through engaging in promoting health & well-being activities such as counselling support, flexible working options, staff surveys and stress management training and stress audits. This helps organisations to combat sickness absence and prevent it from becoming an issue in the first place in eliminating or alleviating symptoms.Some organisations also offer health checks, stopping smoking support or mental health first aiders to their staff which all points to great strides ahead in giving people knowledge and help to empower people to make good lifestyle choices and tackle the most common causes of long term sickness absence.

The research findings have proven the importance of health & wellbeing as a preventative measure of long term sickness absence and rehabilitation through initiatives where the organisation can identify staff issues early on.

In the long run the role of health & wellbeing is cost-effective and promotes staff engagement through organisational values being lived out and invested in and a focus in this area will reduce the impact of stress-related, musculoskeletal and acute types of sickness absence.

So, where can we go from here?

We can all use the masses of well researched public health information provided through public health initiatives because a healthy population is important to all governments.
At a lower level though it’s all about a change in the way we think and the value we place on looking after ourselves as individuals and a larger workforce. It’s about getting the facts and figures and understanding ways we can change things for the better and that recognising we may need to make a change in the first place. It’s an individual thing but it’s also a wider issue that we all need to take responsibility for.

Through role modelling behaviours, Health & Wellbeing schemes and clear and consistent Sickness Absence Management and Health & Wellbeing policy guidelines organisations can responsibly support, value and empower their staff. These positive measures should expect organisations to see improved line manager performance, a reduction in sickness absence costs and rates and happier and healthier staff.

Employee engagement is expected to increase with a focus on staff health & wellbeing to minimise the overall impact of sickness absence. It’s also a really good way of bringing people together and making for better staff relationships but everyone needs to be on board and take this seriously for this to become part of the culture.

How do we do it?

Shifts in attitudes towards diet and exercise can easily be absorbed in the workplace. So why not build activities into everyday routine things such as a stair climbing challenge, start up a walking group during the lunch hour and socialise at the same time or even sign up for a team charity fundraising challenge.

It’s important do varied activities that people enjoy to stop things getting boring. There’s lots of team-building things you could do such as getting outside and starting up an allotment if you’ve got space, grow your own plants in the office or support a local charity by having a fundraising hand car wash.

Think about your carbon footprint and see if there are any cycle schemes for people to get to work. You can even train your staff as mental health first aiders as well as set up support groups such as slimming clubs or quit smoking groups as it’s easier to achieve success if you’re not going it alone.

The bottom line is it’s really up to you

Healthy lifestyle behaviour starts with the basics of regular exercise, good nutrition and mental rest and relaxation which is down to us as individuals.

As we can see the numbers and guidance from health professionals speak for themselves and we know that we should look after ourselves as well as we can.

It’s important to remember that no single food has all the nutrients the body needs to stay healthy and function efficiently. The key is moderation and eating different foods in the right proportions. If we’re eating more calories than we burn this leads to becoming overweight or obese.
Regular exercise burns off the calories increasing our heart rate, making our lungs work harder and boosting our circulation. This will work our muscles, stimulate our organs and soft tissues and flood our body with blood and oxygen. It has the feel good factor!

Exercise also maintains our bone density, joint stability, flexibility, strength, balance, co-ordination and stamina. Who wouldn’t want to avoid bone fractures and falls, whilst boosting our self-confidence and mental health?

Getting it right is important for our long term health and well-being but it needn’t worry us if we follow the rules of eating a varied diet, keeping our exercise levels up and being aware of and reducing our cigarette and alcohol intake.

It’s easy to get bogged down in it all and feel overwhelmed to the point of confusion. There’s loads of advice available about healthy eating, quitting smoking and what alcohol does to our bodies. Sometimes all of the info out there can be conflicting and confusing and it’s hard to know what’s in and what’s out.
The best piece of advice is to make your lifestyle choices and changes work for you. It really is down to you to make positive lifestyle choices and arm yourself with the right way of doing it and muster up an army of supporters to help get you to your goal. Even small changes are a step in the right direction towards making a difference. Slowly but surely they’ll soon gather speed and you’ll discover that fitness really does improve your work and home life.

Should New Starter Induction be part of your People Strategy?

In this article, guest blogger Nadine looks at the value of induction processes for new starters in charity / third sector jobs.
Hi there! I’m Nadine Lock, Tenovus Cancer Care’s People Officer. 

I’ve worked in Human Resources for the last 10 years in the Third Sector and Private Sector and love everything about recruitment; seeing people progress and positively working through any employee issues.

At Tenovus Cancer Care, our aims are simple; to help prevent, treat and find a cure for cancer. With that in mind, it’s really important that we hire the right people and that our people are supported to be the best that they can be in their job. That’s where I come in.

I enjoy my job so much I volunteer with them as well as having a Trustee role with a local community charity. I really do try to make a positive difference and help people.  I’m a recruiter, altruist, passionate about treating people fairly and making our workplace a great one!

First days in a new company are always tough no matter what.  I’m sure we’ve all got the memories of the sleepless night-before, the butterflies in our tummy, the waves of nausea and all the nerve wracking questions running through our mind.   After all, us humans don’t really like a lot of change and the fear of the unknown and starting something new is always daunting.

So, isn’t it obvious that the job falls to our new work family then?  After all, they’re the people who already know how things work, what happens when and why it’s like that.  They’re the ones who can help calm the waters, show us where to go and make for smooth-sailing on our new venture?  Surely the people who get it as they’ve been there and done that are best placed to help their new colleagues find their way, settle into their new role and make it a win-win for everyone?

You’d like to think so but some employers see an induction period as a waste of time, money and resources. They’d prefer to throw people in at the deep end to sink or swim, navigate their own way and just get on with things.  However, some investment into the time at the start of things to get everyone moving in the same direction may well be more beneficial than they first think.

But what’s in it for me if I invest time and resources into this I hear you ask?

Well, according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement if they left.  On top of that business expert Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte, says a new employee can take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member.[1] So, all in all the return on the investment is starting to stack up and make good business sense.

On top of all that research has shown that a considerable amount of employee turnover happens within the first 90 days of employment.  Apart from having time and money costs to this it also isn’t great for morale and colleagues having to pick up the extra work.  So, isn’t having a welcoming induction programme to help your new starters settle in and be productive a no brainer then?

We’re in an era of HR promoting emotional intelligence in the workforce and great importance is placed on promoting a values-based culture at work.  Buzzwords and catchphrases of the day are ‘empowerment’, ‘employee value proposition’ and ‘staff engagement’ as we all look for innovative and better ways of doing things to keep that competitive edge and boost our People Strategy.

When thinking about our new starter induction programme here at Tenovus Cancer Care we went right to the heartbeat of our operation – our people.  After all, one of the reasons we can do what we do is because we’re a community and see our people as family.

We’ve got a shared sense of ‘belonging’ and believe in the same things to make us – well ‘us’.  We’re all in it to achieve the same thing – to help people affected by cancer.  So we want our new colleagues to be like us; engaged in what we do and how and why and follow the same path to all of us achieving what we signed up for.

As all of our people are massively involved in steering, living and breathing the induction journey along with their new colleagues it was important to get their buy-in from the start.  In the words of the business leader, Gary Hamel “Engagement may have been optional in the past, but it’s pretty much the whole game today”.[2]

So, how do we do it? Well, it’s quite simple really.  Our induction programme was put together by our staff and designed with our future colleagues in mind.  Putting ourselves in their shoes we asked ourselves what joining experiences we’d have found helpful, what did we need to know and when.  We also thought about what we wanted the induction journey to look and feel like for our new colleagues.  It made us think more about our culture, values and working environment and we built this into our monitoring and evaluation work to keep us on track.

Our new starter induction objectives were set to pave the way ahead for smooth-sailing so people could:

  •       Get to know their team & colleagues
  •       Understand how their role fits into things here
  •       Feel welcomed, settled and have everything they need to begin to grow in their role
  •       Have a good understanding of everything that we do here

As we’ve been there and done that we know there’s loads of things to think about in putting all of this into practice.  I’m sure you’re asking “Where do I start with all of this?”  To help you start off on your voyage smoothly here are some top things to bear in mind when making the induction process valuable to your People Strategy.

  1. Start as you mean to go on

Everything we do here is underpinned by our values and we set out the induction journey plan together.  A CIPD Study says that almost three-quarters of engaged employees agree or strongly agree that their organisation’s values positively influence people’s behaviour.[3]

Everyone who is involved at the beginning of our induction journey signs up to having a part to play in setting out the plan and making it happen without any bumps in the road.  This means that we’re all role modelling our values through our behaviour at the start of things.

On the subject of organisational values induction offers a great early opportunity to build clear foundations and set expectations around ethics, corporate social responsibility and expected behaviours and codes of conduct – the anchor of a responsible and reputable organisation.

Israel’s wealthiest woman, Shari Arison says that “I find that when you lead with vision and values, engaging employees and showing them that values are just as important as profits, everyone comes on board.  And not only do they come on board, but they connect to their own individual creativity”.[4] So, we’re making sure that we’re really placing our new starter experience firmly in our People Strategy.

Supporting this idea further, the Vice President of Apple, Angela Ahrendts says “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer.  I think you build one with your employees first”.[5] So, let’s start as we mean to go on with things, keep our people safely on board and build our success in the right way.

  1. Don’t jump straight in

This is the start of something for someone who you’ve invested a lot of time, resources and money into hiring.  Try not to let this all go to waste for the sake of rushing to get someone up and running in their job straightaway or else you run the risk of them sinking.  After all, to get someone working at full capacity surely they need to understand how, why and what they do fits in with everything else around them to give them real meaning and a sense of fitting in.

As we’ve all been there we know that once you start in a new job you’ll be chomping at the bit to press on with the job at hand.  While this is obviously a good sign of things to come it really helps to mix up the plan with time spent learning about the new role and with other colleagues and departments to job shadow, share best practice and see how things work.

For people to really get to know the culture and how things happen they need to spend time with their peers, get to know different departments, teams and key people that’ll really help them get going on their new journey.

Outside of the legal compliance bits this is just as essential to your new colleagues feeling like they’re part of something bigger than just their job; they’re part of your community and it also helps for positive working relationships across the organisation as your values are lived out.

  1. It’s more than just a job

According to a CIPD Survey Report organisational values and good working practices are the elements of employer brand most commonly seen to be important for attracting candidates.  As our lives become more accessible often our work and home lives blend in this age of social media and digital technology.

Potential hires also state work/life balance is key in their choice of employer.  These days work is more than just a job for most people and worth more than a means to an end to pay the bills.  In the days of strong social media presence impacting so much on company reputation it’s more important than ever that we see our people as our customers.

What we see here is that staff want to be treated as people whose job and organisation say as much about them as a person as their salary and job status does.  So, they want to put themselves across in a professional, approachable, friendly and welcoming way in all aspects of their life.

Surely this is the same viewpoint as how we’d like our organisations to come across as well?  So, as employers we can easily match these up and set the standard and tone for this through the induction journey at the very beginning stages of the relationship and even before that first day in the office.

What does that look like realistically then?

Perhaps think about sending a ‘Welcome Pack’ to help get over first day nerves – suggest people might want to bring their own mug for a cup of tea or places to go for lunch if you don’t have a staff canteen.  You could even give tips on what the usual dress code is or where people can park their cars. Don’t forget the finishing touches like having the work-station set up ready to go with pens, notepad and a clean and tidy work area.

It’s always nice to feel included and part of things really early on and so why not have someone on hand to ‘buddy up with’ at break or put out an invite to meet the team informally before their first day in the office or go for a team coffee or lunch.  All of these things can really help people feel like you’ve put thought into giving them a warm welcome into the family.

  1. Straight Talking

We’ve found that success and smooth-sailing happens when there is good planning and communication as so many people are part of orchestrating a solid induction programme.  To make things cost-effective and to give a positive shared experience it’s worthwhile planning a group induction if you can.  That means diaries are less restricted, staff are more engaged in recognising the value of the induction and your new staff members feel part of an instant team they can connect with.

We’ve found that commitment is boosted from people delivering induction if there are set schedules so people know when their induction slots are on a regular basis and can plan ahead.  This also speeds up the planning time cutting down on admin resources as you can work off set schedules when you have new members to welcome into the company.  You may also want to consider adapting a schedule for people who work from home or at remote sites so it works for everyone.

Above everything though experience has taught us that people need to know what is expected of them, what they should be doing, when and where.  It always helps to meet people who play a key delivery part in things so there’s a collective agreement as to what they need to be covering, agree on clear and relevant objectives and why we’re doing what we do in this way.

To help people buy into this we’ve found that people love to hear what feedback we’ve had and how they’re doing against expectations.  We look at how our values are shown as a marker of success us.  And, we’re keen to make changes for the better to help all our people swim rather than sink.

It really helps that we’re into seeing how things are going through feedback and what our people have to say about the new starter experience here.  As we’ve already said we love to hear what people think about what we do and how we can do things better.

So, we seek out thoughts and opinions to help us do things really good.  We don’t just speak to our inductees to get their opinions we speak to everyone involved in the whole process so it really is an organisational piece of work that we’re all proud to say we own and a real family affair.

So what are you waiting for?

All in all our induction programme isn’t something that’s just been put together by a senior leadership team or HR alone.  We can all relate to the new starter experience here and how our own parts make up the whole journey experience in practice.  We’ve all had a part to play and our people are proud of the experience their new colleagues get and love seeing the plan in action to say that they’ve really made a positive difference.

Hopefully you can see the value of a good induction programme as it will save you time and money in the long-run and really boost your employer brand internally and externally.  If it’s done properly it can also be a fantastic organisational tool to get people working together and really underline how important your values are and that you’re committed to them.  In short, without a solid induction process in place your people strategy could be at risk of not working out as you’d hoped.  So, good luck on your journey towards having a really great people strategy.

 

[1] Kantor, J, (February 11th 2016) High Turnover Costs Way More Than You Think http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-kantor/high-turnover-costs-way-more-than-you-think_b_9197238.html

[2] Hamel, G The Future of Management (2007): Harvard Business School Publishing; Harvard

[3] A Barometer of HR Trends and Topics, 2013, CIPD

[4] Bennington, E, (6th March 2014) http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilybennington/2014/03/06/richest-woman-in-the-middle-east-has-made-good-deeds-scalable-really-2/#4d0a4cfb503d

[5] Leahey, C, (June 19th 2012) The secrets behind Burberry’s growth http://fortune.com/2012/06/19/angela-ahrendts-the-secrets-behind-burberrys-growth/

Would your organisation benefit from free analytical help?

daniDani Evans is a government statistician at the Welsh Government. She is working with fellow government analysts to organise and promote the Analytical Voluntary Programme (AVP).

When it comes to demonstrating your organisation’s impact to the people who matter, the ability to understand and communicate your data is essential.  Effective analysis can help you decide where to direct your resources or where you should focus your research.

This year, the Government Statistical Service (GSS), the Government Social Research Society (GSR), the Government Operational Research Society (GORS) and the Government Economics Society (GES) is partnering with WVCA for its Analytical Voluntary Programme.  The scheme matches voluntary sector organisations requiring support with government analysts, for placements of up to five days.  This is a fantastic opportunity for the voluntary sector to benefit from the expertise within government, while also providing the chance for government analysts to learn more about the voluntary sector.

What could a government analyst do for you?

Examples of the types of work you can benefit from include:

  • Help to design, conduct or analyse a survey of volunteers, service users or members.
  • Identification and analysis of existing, available datasets on a particular topic and advice on how your organisation can interpret and use this information.
  • Improvements in handling large datasets through recommendations on how data can be recorded, stored and used more efficiently
  • Strategic planning and options appraisal – applying analytical methods to make better decisions.
  • Cost benefit analysis to help support decision making.
  • Measure the impact of a project or programme.
  • Assessments of the value for money related to decisions or projects.
  • Wider economic forecasting and analysis to inform investment decisions.

Building on last year’s success

Last year’s scheme (previously know as the Voluntary Sector Placement Scheme) successfully matched over 40 organisations with statisticians and led to productive outcomes for both – this year we are widening the scheme to social researchers, operational researchers and economists too!  Two case studies from last year’s scheme are detailed below.

Techniquest

Techniquest is based in Cardiff Bay and offers interactive experiences to schools and the public to engage people with science and to motivate them to learn more.

Dani Evans spent five days helping to deliver a comprehensive analysis on what factors influence how schools engage with Techniquest.

Dani’s experience in analysing data proved invaluable. She was able to provide detailed analysis on data in the booking database which provided a wealth of information on how and when engagement is taking place. As a result of better understanding of Techniquests users and this allows for more focused promotions and offers.

The Peninsula Trust

The Peninsula Trust is based in a rural area of Cornwall, it is a community benefit society meaning it is run primarily for the benefit of the community at large, rather than just for members of the society.

Danielle Cornish from the Office for National Statistics helped the charity to build reliable, detailed information about the economic, demographic and social situation of the area.  After three days, Danielle had data in a form suitable for:

  • Presentations to authorities
  • Information briefings to the community
  • Grant/finance applications

Feedback from the trust: “We are a small community Trust with very limited resources.  We could not afford to get high-quality work of this kind.” “We have used the report several times already, most recently to support a large grant application to build work units – if we get that one, our long-term future is secure through the rental income, safeguarding our community support and welfare work indefinitely.”

Want to find out more?

If your organisation is interested in participating in the upcoming scheme, please visit this website. All voluntary organisations are welcome to apply and you don’t need to be a member of WVCA either.

Applications will be open from 3rd October to 25th October 2016.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Cardiff ‘Live Loud’ project overview

What is the ‘Live Loud’ project?

’Live Loud’ involves the development and delivery of a fortnightly communication support group for people with Parkinson’s living in the Cardiff and Vale Local Health Board area who have a Parkinson’s related communication impairment.

It will focus on supporting individuals to improve their speech by practising their voice in a fun, informal and supportive environment with others who are experiencing similar difficulties.

How will the project be delivered?

The project will provide fortnightly communication support sessions using an accessible community venue. Beneficiaries will be supported by a cohort of trained volunteers, including Speech and Language students from Cardiff University who will be recruited and trained in the coming months to deliver appropriate activities during sessions.

Training will be delivered by the Speech and Language Department of Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Local Health Board’s Speech and Language Therapy staff and local Parkinson’s UK staff .  Training will comprise of:

–       The online Parkinson’s UK Volunteer induction

–       Organisational information from Parkinson’s UK Volunteer Co-ordinator related to volunteering with the Charity

–       Information from the Parkinson’s UK ADM for South Wales on the wider work of the Charity and other local services.

–       Visits to local Parkinson’s UK groups to gain understanding of the impact of living with Parkinson’s education about the clinical features of Parkinson’s disease

–       Training in the support techniques and activities that will be used during the project

Why are we developing this project?

The ability to communicate verbally is something that many of us take for granted.  Over 80% of people with Parkinson’s experience a voice or speech disorder with weakness or quietness reported as the main concern and this can have a huge impact of the individual’s quality of life.

These difficulties mean that many people with Parkinson’s are less confident communicators, less likely to engage in conversation and may be at risk of social isolation.  The project which is the first of its kind in Wales for people with Parkinson’s is a direct response to these needs.

The ‘Live Loud’ project will help  people improve their vocal intensity and quality of speech through the practice of key sounds, phrases and techniques in a supportive group setting.

Key anticipated outcomes of the project and how they will be measured

Key anticipated outcomes for the project will include:

  • An improvement in project participants’ vocal loudness
  • An improvement in participants’ confidence to communicate with others
  • An improvement in individual’s quality of life due to enhanced mutual support and an increase in social networks
  • Participants reporting an enhanced awareness of techniques to use to improve their voice
  • An increase in participants’ level of engagement in social and community activities as a result of increased confidence in their communication skills

These outcomes will be measured by asking participants to complete a pre-project questionnaire prior to starting the project and repeating this after three months to assess the impact the project has made on their communication skills and their quality of life.

Every potential beneficiary will also be assessed by the Speech and Language Therapist to screen for cognitive or physical impairments which would make this project unsuitable for that person.  The level of the individual’s vocal impairment will also be measured by taking decibel readings for each beneficiary prior to starting the project and three months after starting the project.

Anticipated start date for the project

October 2016

Welsh mental health charity Hafal to merge with carers’ charity Crossroads Care Mid & West Wales

Welsh mental health charity Hafal has announced that it is joining up with carers’ charity Crossroads Mid & West Wales to form one organisation.  The two charities are already working closely together and propose to merge formally on 1 April 2017.

Hafal is a member-led mental health charity providing progressive, recovery-focused services for mental health service users and carers across all 22 counties of Wales;  Crossroads Mid & West Wales (CMWW) is a well-established and successful charity which provides services for carers and service users in Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys.  The merger will involve transfer of CMWW assets, services and staff into Hafal.

Alun Thomas, Hafal’s Chief Executive, said: “We are very excited about the merger and the benefits it will bring to both organisations.  Following detailed discussion and analysis we concluded that by joining together both organisations can improve and expand their services to clients and secure our future in the coming years.  Both organisations are already successful but together we can benefit by creating a larger organisation fulfilling a wider mission across Wales.  We expect staff levels to increase along with our budget.”

Roger Gant, Chief Executive of Crossroads Mid & West Wales, said: “The key benefit is that the two charities’ missions and activities complement rather than duplicate each other: together we can broaden our mission in a measured way and deliver a unique range of services across Wales.  We will of course look to our members and clients – and to our staff group – to help us develop the unified organisation, and to continue to deliver excellent services.”

Tenovus Cancer Care

tenovusHi there!  I’m Nadine, Tenovus Cancer Care’s People Officer.

At Tenovus Cancer Care, our aims are simple; to help prevent, treat and find a cure for cancer.  With that in mind, it’s really important that we hire the right people and that our people can help us.  That’s where I come in.

It’s my job to make sure that we can help those affected by cancer and really make a difference to their lives

My experience?  Well, I’ve worked in Human Resources for the last 10 years in the Third and Private Sectors and love everything about recruitment; seeing people progress and positively working through any employee issues.  I enjoy my job so much I volunteer with them as well as having a Trustee role with a local community charity. I really do try to make a positive difference and help people. I’m a recruiter, altruist, passionate about treating people fairly and making our workplace a great one.

There’s always something new to learn with every situation being unique and never boring.  I’ve learned so much that I can’t wait to pass along!

I’ll be writing about all things HR; whether you’re looking for a job, looking for advice or navigating the career ladder, I hope you learn plenty and enjoy!

Top 5 tips in looking for your first job

You’ve spent so many hours revising, studying hard and preparing for the dreaded exams. But, hey presto! they’ve come and gone in a flash.  Your first thought is that you can’t wait for the endless fun of summer holidays and doing nothing but hanging out with your mates and just chilling out.

But, you might need some cash, be saving for a holiday with your friends, college or even your first car.  So, you want to find a job?

As much as we all long for these happy days of no pressure and nobody to answer to we’ll all come back to earth with a bump soon enough though.  And, the grown up world is dead scary – there’s so many choices to make:  What do I want to be?  How am I going to get a job?  What’s out there for me?  But there’s one thing you do know – you want your own money and you want it to be amazing.

It’s a bit of a minefield but speaking from a recruiter’s point of view these tips should get you off to a good start in finding your way:

  1. It’s all about the image

First impressions count!  It’s all about how you present yourself in person, on the phone, on paper and social media.

Most employers make their minds up in the first 30 seconds so you don’t have that long to make that good first impression.

If you’re popping in somewhere to ask about work or going for an interview dress the part – not too much makeup and wear tidy and appropriate clothes for the job.  You don’t have to always buy something new but bear in mind that you want to present yourself as someone worth hiring.

If you’re calling about a job think about what you want to say first. Smile as you speak – you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes to how you come across!  Take a deep breath and try not to speak too fast.  You may be a bit nervous so why not practice in front of a mirror or with someone else first.

Get it down on paper and sell yourself.  You’ll need a CV to apply for jobs a lot of the time.  This tells employers what your skills and experience are and how they match up to what they’re looking for.  There’s lots of templates online to get you started and your school or college will be able to help you too.

The trick is to think about how other people see you – they haven’t got to know you yet and so the question to ask is would you give yourself a job.

  1. Social Media

Employers these days are getting social media savvy.  Your online image is often just as important as how you come across in person.

Are your Facebook settings public or private?  Some employers will check out your social media profiles and so you don’t want anything too inappropriate to show up here.

If you’re sending a CV by email what does your email address say about you?  Do you need to set up an email account just for job hunting?

If there’s a particular company you really want to get some experience with why not follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn?  That way you’ll be able to regularly keep up with what they’re up to and it’ll stand you in good stead at interview.

It’s also worth signing up to alerts from job boards and recruiters and regularly checking out company websites.  That way you’ll know as soon as jobs near you come up.  The world of recruitment is really fast-paced and time waits for no one and so you need to be able to move quickly to be in with a shot.

  1. Get involved!

Nothing beats pounding the pavements and getting yourself out there.  Also let your family and friends know you’re available for work so they can help in spreading the word.  Pop into your local recruitment agency and job centre as well as keeping an eye out on social media too.

These days employers are looking for well—rounded people to recruit which can mean more than grades alone. It’s all about the competition and being the best that you can be.  That means they want to hire people who’ve got a good set of skills to make their company stronger.  Employers really want people whose values and the way they think and behave  match their own.

While you’re getting involved why not try something different, make new friends and give something back to your community to help you in your job search.  Volunteering is a great CV booster and another way to show potential employers that you’d be a good hire.

It’s a great way to channel your passions and do some good and we all want to do something we love right? You might even discover new skills you didn’t know you had before.  And, if you do a good job they may even snap you up for paid work!

  1. Do the right thing

 Yes you want a job.  Yes you want the cash.  But, you’ll be giving up a lot of your time to work.  So, why not do something you enjoy or that can help you in the long run?

If you’re really sociable and chatty you might enjoy retail, telesales and customer service jobs.  If you’re more practical and like the outdoors have you thought about car washing, gardening or dog-walking?  If you’re sporty you could look into lifeguarding.  Do you want to work with animals or children in the future?  Why not think about working at a vet clinic, animal shelter or working at a play scheme to link to your career interests?

There’s a lot of choice out there and it can be really confusing.  It’s best to think about what you love and what types of jobs suit your skills and go from there.  You’re going to learn new things, build on what you can do and meet different people.  At the end of the day it’s all experience and that counts for a lot.

  1. Get real

Often we hear phrases such as ‘climbing the ropes’ and ‘moving up the career ladder’.  What this tells us is that realistically you’ll need to start at the bottom.  It might not be the most exciting thing in the world but see it as an opportunity and grab everything that comes your way with both hands.

You’ll be working with people who’ve got a lot more experience and have already learnt the ropes.  Learn from them where possible and see if there are opportunities to job shadow them or ask if they can mentor you.

You might not be earning mega bucks now but it’s a foot in the door and a way of seeing what roles you’re best suited to and what type of companies you want to work for.  It’s not often we walk into our dream job straightaway but the people around you are important in getting you there.  You never know when your paths might cross in the future and these are small steps to your future.

Hang on in there

Landing your first real job is exciting and a little bit scary but you’ll learn loads and make some cash.  It might not be the job you eventually end up in but you’ll find out what you really like and what you really don’t like.

My first job was working in a bakery – thankfully Facebook and Snapchat wasn’t around in those days to share my humiliation of having to wear a Victorian baker’s outfit every day of my summer holidays.  It was hot, customers took having a perfect loaf of bread very seriously and my feet hurt from standing all day long.

But, I had my own cash to spend, customer service experience on my CV and a good reference for when I moved on.  Plus, not many people can say they met Richard Branson in a supermarket aisle!

Just a final bit of advice from me – you need to keep on going and you’ll get there in the end.  You will get knock backs but that’s just part of life.  You just have to chalk it up to experience,  think what that’s taught you and what you’ll do differently the next time around.  But, whatever you do I’ve always found that manners and persistence go a long way.

So, thank you for having a read and keep up the good work!

Headway Cardiff

Over 500,000 people in the UK are living with disabilities caused by brain injury.  Scars can fade and bones heal but a brain injury stays for life and affects all you think, feel and do. Brain injury happens not just to an individual but to the whole family.

Headway Cardiff provides specialist rehabilitation and support programmes covering the south east Wales area, to enable hundreds of survivors of brain injury, their families and carers to cope with the difficulties that may arise. Over the past three years Headway Cardiff has supported over 1,400 brain injured people aged 17 – 74 years, together with their families from all walks of life. Without the support of Headway Cardiff many people with brain injuries would live very lonely, isolated lives or would be in care homes. The whole local community benefits when the families and survivors are better able to cope and are able to play a positive role in the local community.

Our Staff

Headway Cardiff seeks to employ individuals who have excellent inter-personal skills and are committed to delivering an excellent service.  We are a small organisation, requiring staff who are flexible and empathetic and can work on their own with initiative and enthusiasm.  Knowledge of social care, health and third sectors services is important.

Our Volunteers

Volunteers play a vital role in enabling Headway Cardiff to deliver the full range of services.  Volunteering opportunities for anyone over the age of 16 years are mostly during the day supporting staff in the independence and wellbeing centre and in social groups. Volunteers also help with fundraising. It is an ideal experience for students of medical professions, psychology and sociology.  Headway Cardiff invests in training volunteers and particularly values those who could potentially be longer term volunteers.

Lynne’s appeal for help brought Outreach Worker, Tania, to her house.

The lack of support services after hospital discharge was very evident in her appearance, poor health and appalling living conditions.  A haemorrhage left Lynne* with significant physical and cognitive problems.  She had not left the house in months and was very low and isolated.  She was unable to get upstairs so she slept on the sofa in the only room downstairs and used a commode.

An urgent referral to Social Services brought in care and support.  Social Services installed a stair lift and walk-in shower so for the first time in 2 years Lynne was able to get properly washed in hot water and sleep in her own bed.  Headway’s Welfare Benefits Officer has been able to significantly improve the financial situation also securing a Headway UK emergency grant to fix the heating and deep clean the house.

The transformation in Lynne’s life has been amazing.  Now she thoroughly enjoys attending the Cardiff Independence and Wellbeing Centre each week, is making friends and is gaining hugely in confidence.

“I can’t thank Headway Cardiff enough,” says Lynne, “I wish I had been told about them when I left hospital.” *Named changed to protect identity.

To ensure that our services continue to be delivered to those who need us most, Headway Cardiff needs to raise over £150,000 each year. £5 per month will ensure that another person like Lynne receives the support she needs.

Statistics show that every 90 seconds someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with brain injury and our challenge has never been greater.  Your support has never been more valuable. To make a donation or to find out more about our services and how we can help please go to www.headwaycardiff.org.uk

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

ASCC – Why my job is awesome

autism-largeAutism Spectrum Connections Cymru is a specialist service providing charity for people with autism in Wales. They deliver a range of flexible, outcome focussed support for adults with autism in SE Wales through the provision of a One Stop Shop Service- 21 High Street.

Senior Support Worker Clair Latham describes what makes her job awesome:

There’s no such thing as a typical day at 21 High Street because every person we support is an individual, they all have different needs and access our service for different reasons, so no two days are the same! One morning I could be supporting an individual at a planned support session to develop employment opportunities. An hour later I could be supporting someone who has come to the service ‘in crisis’ and needs immediate support to problem solve a particular issue.

Using a strength based support model tailored to the needs of each individual I support them around their understanding, how they communicate, what motivates them, what they expect and what they experience through their senses working in partnership with the individual to problem solve and supporting them to achieve a variety of goals and aspirations including post diagnostic advice, employment, housing, benefits, budgeting and relationship advice. At the same time we provide and support a wide range of social opportunities and activities for people to engage in and develop.

Working at 21 High Street is fun, varied, challenging and extremely rewarding and is unlike any other support worker role I’ve ever had before. I’m proud to work in an environment and with a team that has created a community within a city, where people feel included, valued, equal and safe.

Charity job finder - third sector jobs in Wales

Welcome to Charity Job Finder!

Charity Job Finder advertises jobs to find talented and ambitious people to work in the charity and voluntary sector. At this site you’ll find all kinds of job opportunities, from senior management roles to fundraisers, carers, admin staff and beyond.

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