Age 19 – Arts University Bournemouth
Throughout the 3 years of my education; the final GCSE year and the 2 years of my A-Level – I competed against setbacks that affected my health that resulted in a solid year where I was unable to walk. It was difficult to deal with because through missing so much school I lost nearly all of my friends asides one, I felt extremely alone and I had to almost teach myself the first year of A-Level. My end goal of being better and a special effects makeup artist kept me determined and gave me the strength to proceed through many painful tests to find the result of my illness which unfortunately is still unknown to this day. All that was certain was that my immune system was low and I was constantly getting ill and my muscles begun to deteriorate the longer I was bed bound. After the first results day of AS levels where I was almost certain I had failed and I somehow passed, I had an all new buzz of motivation and that summer I dedicated it to art, banging out 7 huge studies and 5 four page essays on the artists I had studied. I was desperate to improve artistically and refused to let my mobility and pain medication cloud my dream of getting into University so I made sure I attended almost every day of Sixth Form and would study as hard as I could at the same time as doing painful exercises daily to gain muscle. Therefore, I am proud to say I completed it and after heavy focus on studying and physiotherapy, I managed to complete my A-Levels to the best I could at the time and I can now walk again which I can say is my biggest achievement yet!
Age 19, Bournemouth University
Redweb apprentice video:
This was the first video I produced at Redweb! I was involved with all aspects of the production, from drafting interview questions to filming and editing everything together – which gave me a real insight into the work that goes into the talking head videos Redweb produces.
I had the opportunity to try my hand at many things that were new to me during the production of this video, from interviewing the other apprentices (a nerve-racking but worthwhile experience) to using Final Cut Pro on an edit of this scale (something I’d only previously dabbled with before).
An insight into sight loss:
After working on the apprentice video and getting involved with other videos the team was producing, I was given the opportunity to create my own short film. I decided on a short documentary piece on sight loss – as someone who is visually impaired, I feel very strongly about the topic and at times I feel it can be misrepresented and underrepresented.
I set out to convey the unseen – and not often talked about – areas surrounding sight loss: how it impacts a person, what it’s like to lose sight, and how a person adapts to such changes. To realise this, I interviewed a person I know who lost their sight at a young age and used a combination of in-camera techniques and visual effects to convey what it’s like to live with a certain type of sight loss.
Upon showing the video with the completed visual effects, my interviewee exclaimed that it “looked like what he saw on a day-to-day basis”. It was amazing for me to see that the work I had produced could effectively capture what it’s like for a person with sight loss to go about their day-to-day life.
Department for Education social media animation:
This was the first piece of client work I undertook while still being apprentice. We were asked to produce a short animation that could be used to promote the steps someone would need to take to get into teaching. This was a learning process for me because it was the first time I’d used skills developed during my apprenticeship to produce something for one of Redweb’s long-standing clients.
A lot of work went into producing a 15-second animation – from creating storyboards and concepts to actually animating it all. Still, it was all worth it because the DfE gave us excellent feedback and were eager to use it across their social media platforms. I was really pleased to receive such great feedback on my first piece of client work – and it was great to produce something that would be helpful for people looking to get into teaching.
Bournemouth Wheels Festival 360° video:
After getting our 360° video rig, we came up with several ideas for how it could be used in interesting and exciting ways. One of these concepts eventually became the video we put together to showcase the Bournemouth Wheels Festival from a driver’s point of view.
I was particularly involved with the post production of this video – primarily focusing on creating the graphics that indicate various locations of events that were happening during the festival. To do this, I had to get my head around a tool called “Skybox Studio”, which allows traditional 2D and 3D elements to be integrated into a 360° video.
Having spent some time figuring out Skybox – including its various limitations and shortfalls – I began working on the graphics that would be used in the video. This process can be quite intricate, using Photoshop to turn designs into graphics that look polished and engaging. Once completed, it was just a case of dropping them into the footage we’d captured and stitching them together to ensure they aligned properly.
The process of learning how to use Skybox and how to produce 360° video content was really interesting. As a technology that’s still emerging, it was a lot of fun fathoming how things should work and what we’d need to do to accomplish certain effects within the video.
Crest Nicholson 360° house tours:
After putting the final touches on the Bournemouth Wheels Festival 360° video, I got involved with producing 360° house tours for one of Redweb’s existing clients, Crest Nicholson. We set out to produce something a user would be able to meaningfully interact with to explore one of Crest Nicholson’s developments, as well as the houses within it.
Using a platform called Spinattic, we could take the 360° photos and video we captured and add in interactive elements to display content or transition to more 360° photos or video. My knowledge of Skybox Studio and producing graphics for 360° content came in really handy here – especially for removing traces of the camera and rig from the photos and adding in helpful information like room dimensions and floor space.
The tour has since been featured on the Crest Nicholson website and is available for viewing by prospective buyers of a Crest Nicholson home.
Lip-syncing chatbot interface:
After dabbling in almost every area of video production, I decided to undertake something that was completely new for us as an agency – and entirely new for me! After spending some time experimenting with Adobe Fuse, our CEO approached us to ask whether it’d be possible to create a front-end for a chatbot. He listed off some potential use cases for the project – with those in mind, I began to look at feasibility of producing a lip-syncing chatbot interface.
I began by looking at lip-syncing a Fuse character using audio recordings and a piece of software called Maya. I had no understanding of how Maya worked, or how to go about lip syncing a character before this, but quickly picked things up after using various online resources. Unfortunately, I found myself competing with the ‘uncanny valley’, which led to us switching to a dog, rather than a human character.
After creating a dog that could be lip synced, I set out to create something that could be run in real time on a user’s device. To achieve this, I took all the work that I had done in Maya and brought it into a game engine called Unity. From there I used tools available for Unity to create something that could be lip synced in real time to an audio file or the microphone input of a device (if that sounds complicated, it’s because it is!).
After some fine-tuning and tweaking, I demoed the project at an agency-wide meeting to showcase what was possible when we combine different disciplines. As an added bonus, I progressed the project even further by getting the dog to lip sync with Amazon’s AI assistant, Alexa.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality work with Redweb’s Innovation Lab:
Over the past few months, I’ve been working alongside the Innovation team here at Redweb to figure out augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (AR) platforms and tools. We’ve spent time thinking about practical and useful applications of both AR and VR, as well as how some of Redweb’s existing clients could utilise AR and VR to engage with their customers and users.
The process of coming up with new ideas for emerging platforms is electrifying and interesting. Things are constantly changing within the realms of AR and VR – there are times where we can struggle to come up with an approach to an idea one week and then a few weeks later find that someone else has solved the issue within their own project. Since we’re working on the bleeding edge of technology, there are times where things break or don’t work properly, but when things work and come to life it’s awesome!
Working with Innovation has allowed me to build on skills I developed whilst working on the lip-syncing chatbot interface and gain even more of an insight into the tech that powers AR and VR experiences.
What do I see myself working on in the future? Where do I see things going?
In the future, I can see myself working on AR and VR experiences and tools that have practical applications and can be used to aid people. I’ve already seen demos that utilise up-and-coming AR and VR platforms in ways that inform and help users, which has made me really excited about the potential this technology has. I’m also excited about the potential impact it could have on the entertainment industry and how it could shake up video and other forms of content.
I think AR and VR will become more and more prominent as new platforms and devices with capabilities to support the AR and VR experience emerge. It has such an amazing potential to change how people interact with things and the way they consume information and content. In the future I’d like to see a ‘Google Glass’-esque device that’s capable of presenting immersive AR experiences to the wearer and completely changing how they interact with the world around them. That’s definitely something I’d be interested working on!
morgan crawley inspirational & creative star
“I wish upon a falling star”
‘Times New Roman’; color: black;”>During the last few months of my art GCSE, I was struggling due to multiple days off due to medical issues and pain. With all the work required, as well as my confusion on how to tackle the final topic before the exam, I had one night where I broke down. This night was when I produced this piece, titled: “I wish upon a falling star”. This piece features me retreating to a character for comfort, their name being Starry. Starry was created one Saturday after a prompt of “star” and “comet”, which ultimately lead me to solidifying her into the character that grants wishes.
Overall, the piece took 3 to 4 hours, and was done past 12AM due to the breakdown keeping me awake. I drew in silence, or at very most, ambient music, and stuck with cold colours to emphasize my low mood at the time. However, I chose to keep Starry in warm colours, to signify hope, and of course, wishes for everything to get better.
This was an experimental piece for figuring out a character named Sway. Using warmer colours due to Sway’s colour scheme, as well as trying to emit a powerful feeling from the image, I did decided to stick with a contrast of light and dark. I also wanted to show that the character was almost, unnatural, hence the expression.
This piece was done relatively quickly, within a few hours, in one of the days of 2015.
As much as my character skills are high, I believe they still need improving – but my environment skills needed that improvement the most. I had decided to draw out an idea that had been sticking around in my mind for a long time. Focused upon my horror antagonist, Haxcecuter, I had the idea of the classical horror basement. However, I didn’t want to put too much focus into the scenery, in case those who saw would gain too much of an insight onto the environment thus getting too much clues and things about the character. Instead, I focused it upon a particular habit of the antagonist (as well as connoting to their hatred of the protagonist of the series).
Shades and hues are dark, to emit the eerie, horror tone of the environment. Focus is upon the mug of course, however, I included other parts to try and show parts of the character and their personality/actions, yet not enough to show all the finer details of them.
Media Coursework 1, Teaser Poster
Assignment was to create a TV program teaser poster. Due to my limited time (due to medical issues, thus leading to have to go into hospital), it isn’t at the best standard in mind. However, this standard is still highly acceptable, and conveys the tropes of the genre I wanted. It also uses the character mentioned in the “fishi” artwork description.
Media Coursework 2, Character design
A personal favourite type of creative work to pursuit is character design. My A3 needed that completely, as I am currently required to create a game trailer, inspired by the E games created by Nintendo. For this, I took 3 of my own characters (including Starry from “I wish upon a falling star”) and designing them into more suitable design for a game setting. I made sure their looks were all recognisable, different, and importantly, easy to recognise. Their looks were also created to show their personality.
Introduction My name is Joely Colmer, I have Aspergers Syndrome, an Autism disability which effects every second of my life with countless hidden hardships, making me pass out, have seizure like symptoms and in chronic agony, sometimes affecting me like a physical disability, unable to walk, talk, or do anything often everyday…. but I love it! My disability walks hand in hand with the very things I love most about my self – my disability is now my gift. I am a passionate autism activist, motivational speaker, and role model, and my biggest passion is helping the autism community establish the hidden hardships and the quirks, of autism. I have bene empowered to achieve amazing things within myself, but most importantly, within my community; I am a -World winner of two global ANCA awards -Winner of national Prime minster volunteer ‘point of light’ award -Vinspired regional winner ‘commitment to volunteering’ -Winner of the national YMCA England ‘volunteer of the year’ award Yet, Once upon a time, I never left my bedroom, I hated myself for how my disability was relentlessly hard and complex all the time, and I was gripped by negativity and self-doubt.
I felt worthless, like I had no talents, no reason to be; I was isolated, and on a downward spiral of negative beliefs. As a teenager, my mental health was a state; I had post-traumatic stress disorder thanks to being a survivor of abuse and bullying, and I was always plagued with flashbacks and horrific nightmares, that made me believe that the abuse and bullying was happening all over again – and gaslighting made me believe that it was my fault, and that I deserved the abuse. As a result I also suffered with depression and anxiety, which on top of a physical and mental disability, was very hard to deal with. Nowadays, my outlook has changed, while I’m still battling post-traumatic stress disorder (I suspect it never really leaves you) it is a millions times better than before; I am able to cope, and have fewer flashbacks now that I am calmly able to remember, and my brain is more able to cope with the shock now I am in such a happy mental state. This is all thanks to the support I have received as autism activist and from my dedicated and patiently wonderful family.
My disability and post-traumatic stress disorder will always affect me, but I have some good news. I love my life; including the negatives I have been through because my past has truly enabled me to help others. At 18, I was advised to start volunteering, and it was the best decision of my life. I am dedicated to my art, and always striving to improve and help others gain an understanding of autism, and thanks to volunteering, my journey has snow balled so I am now an autism activist and I have achieved my wishes of making positive impact into the autistic community.
My little ol’ achievements so far: Thanks to becoming an autism activist and being able to access support, I have overcome my severe difficulties, Traumatic memories (PTSD), and depression, to become a multi national and world award winning Autism Activist and Motivational Speaker. I thought you should know that, on top of receiving recognition from UK prime minster, I have also been honored and recognized as an ANCA World Autism Ambassador, representing UK, thanks to my Autism Activism, and the impact it has on my community. -ANCA – global Autistic Network Consulting Agency, in Canada. My Autism Activism (AspergerWorld) Volunteer job: My biggest passion, the work in which I adore; my volunteer business – AspergerWorld. As an example, this last month, I have been to Wales (delivered a 15 minute speech to 150 professionals, parents young people and children, 121 role modelling, and show cased my book), Lincolnshire (showcase my book and speech to 100 professionals and families), London (to deliver a 25 minute speech to 200 professionals and families, 121 role modelling, and show case my book at Anna Kennedys autism expo), Bournemouth (to deliver a 15 minute speech, to 100 professionals with Health Watch England, and also NHS England) Barclays bank (to deliver Autism understanding training and a 15 minute speech to professionals– live streamed to Barclays bank conferences nationwide).
1) Motivational Speeches When I was a child I was deaf and could not speak until I was 7; preferring to communicate using ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and sign language. As an adult I still have grave difficulties with communicating, and expressing myself, so being able to stand up on stage in front of 100s of people, is a real challenge; but I love a good challenge, as it’s the trials of life that help you learn how to improve and allow you to thrive for the better. Speech reviews: “Joely Colmer’s strength of personality shone…. Saying that she ‘loves’ her disability and that it is ‘a gift’ is a powerful and important message to send to peers and younger people with similar conditions…. Joely also has a rare talent, in that she is exceptionally good at articulating what it’s like to have Asperger’s Syndrome. I was blown away by the candid, honest, and positive insight that she was able to provide …so much of the content she provided was so compelling and insightful. She so clearly has a passion for positively representing her disability, and for putting herself ‘out there’ as a role model to others.” “Truly inspirational and absolutely fantastic. Joely you had the entire room in silence and most near tears. Thank you for sharing your story.” “Joely is a young individual who has Aspergers Syndrome …who braced us with her presence on stage… It was inspiring, moving and heartfelt… Joely’s speech was said with ease and integrity and by far she stole the show.” “Joely’s talk made you realize that a disability does not necessarily always hinder you but can empower you. I found her speech very powerful and inspirational. It made me change my perspective on people/life, and really helped me understand hidden disabilities. Love the fact that she refers to it as a gift.”
2) Autism awareness and understanding training for professionals My workshops are always very creative, memorable and interactive; which aids my audience to really step into the autistic world and leave with a can do attitude and a deeper understanding of the hidden hardships and quirks of the autistic spectrum. My most popular activities for these workshops can include: -Disable the autistic label T shirt – positives of autism – We are autism united jigsaw pieces – how we can help. – Communication cupcakes – show cases how to work as a team and communicate effectively and autistic persons difficulty with understanding and portraying language -Problem solving obstacle course – gives practical insight into autistic persons difficulty with problem solving, making connections and social imagination – puppets, art, and music therapy to express voice – masks- can you read my facial expression? – Communication ball pit – relationships and communication – Disability ID Cards – role play – Disabled celebs and inspirational people mix and match – ‘push the button’ anti bullying, sensory information overloads, or discrimination scenes – and how to help. Autism understanding workshops Reviews: “She shatters the misconception that ‘one person can’t make a difference…. Even adults and children without disabilities benefit, because the project raises awareness and therefore make people more sensitive to how they can help others in their community. Joely has dedicated a huge portion of her life to helping others and making things easier for disabled adults and children- not just adults and children who specifically have ASD but who have other disabilities too. Everything Joely has achieved- and everything she will doubtless go on to achieve- is a reminder to everyone of what hard work and a positive attitude can do.” “The presentation was lovely and very interesting! The activities were really eye opening. I learnt how many disabilities are hidden and are just as severe as other physical disabilities. I found Joely’s speech really inspiring. ” “Raising awareness about disabilities is very important and I really think Joely has been able to do it in an effective and interactive way. I thought that Joely’s speech was very inspirational. It was interesting to find out more about the problems disabled people have to fare daily.” “It is clear that as a society mental disability is not treated in the same way as physical disability and Joely is driving people to think outside the box in a carefree fun way, so as not to embarrass. Joely has turned a negative into a positive and is giving back to her peers. She is taking the lessons she has learnt and moving forwards; challenging others to take a good look at themselves and also have a can do attitude. So many lessons to be covered off here; bullying, how we communicate with others and looking at the simple joy of family, loving and giving. It is important that we all take on these lessons, focus on what we can do, rather than what we can’t; and forge change….Now, I want to make a difference; but how much better is it to make a difference early in someone’s life, so that they can help change us and our attitudes? To share true life experience and build on it, is a total gift.”
3) Role modelling Workshops – for those with autism spectrum disorders, their families and teachers. I know how important it is from a personal point of view to have a positive role model, and that is why I aim to be this Positive Role Model for others. A Positive Role Model, can enable people to change their outlook on themselves, their difficulties and their talents. Positive Role Models understand, accept and listen, at a time in the person’s life (whom they are supporting) which is so greatly misunderstood and confusing. Positive Role Models showcase that struggles don’t have to be barriers, and that with support, can allow people to think “Yes! Maybe I can achieve!” or “Yes! I feel more empowered than before! Maybe disability can be a good thing, after all…”. Best of all, A Positive Role Model spreads hope, acceptance, understanding, appropriate friendship and positivity at a time in life which can sometimes seem sad, misunderstood, alone and scary. Each Workshop is designed to educate and inspire hope within newly diagnosed people and their family or teachers. My workshops are designed so that participants challenge their own negative perceptions about what their disability means, communicate their own problems with me, and look into their possible talents (being kind etc). So that all participants can leave feeling refreshed, inspired, more comfortable in their diagnosis and with a ‘can do’ attitude. Reviews: ”Truly inspiring role modelling. I believe Joely’s speech was “magical” in her fairy ways and she should keep striving for her dreams because she is amazing fantabulous. I feel much more aware and enlightened, thank you for making an impact on our lives.” A review written by a teacher who has participated in multiple Role Modeling Workshops. “I shall be eternally grateful to Joely for all the help, support and guidance that she is now providing to the students at our school who I work with, and to me and their families too. Witnessing how Joely’s voluntary work with these students is already showing amazing outcomes and possibilities for them; giving them the confidence and feeling of self worth, a sense of being valued as an individual. Just meeting, speaking and listening to Joely has been a ground breaking move forwards into a far better future for all of us at school. Joely is a former pupil of mine…..I spent several years trying to understand her world, yet Joely did something so remarkable, so unexpected, she managed to step into mine and inspire me too….I have now become the student and Joely has become my teacher; she has opened my eyes and my mind….. giving remarkable insight into her world as someone with ASD….. Joely is an inspiration not only to me, but also to all young people, disabled and abled alike, she is a voice of hope and reason. Her tireless work inspiring and encouraging pupils from her former school and around the country, her courageous efforts and achievements as a public speaker, speaking up for disabled young people, educating all involved, changing and enhancing lives for the better. She has walked that hard journey herself and is selflessly going back to help others to walk through their personal journey; how wonderful is that? In short, while I was attempting to understand the world of disabled people, Joely overcame all obstacles and learned to be in mine, in order to help me and others to achieve our personal goals and by seeing things through our eyes she has enabled us to empathize and to break down those barriers that we ourselves had ignorantly put up. Joely has not only been the voice for the disabled, but she has helped them to find their voices too; enabling them to be heard and valued for who they are and not what the label would have many of us believe that they are. Thank you Joely, from the bottom of my heart!” “Honestly, I was quite impressed with her because she is an extremely positive and proactive person, using her energy to inspire the community. She is really enthusiastic and passionate about disability issues and I personally think that she is making a big difference in our society. In January I went to a meeting with my supervisor and her and I was strongly and favorably affected by how confident and passionate she was about speaking in public of her own experience as a young woman with Asperger’s in order to make the voices of disabled young people heard. She is a role model for other young people with disabilities because she is getting the message across to people that through determination, motivation and passion everything is possible. Therefore, I strongly believe that she is making a positive contribution to the community by being actively involved and the protagonist of many different initiatives and projects in order to bring about concrete changes in people’s lives. “
4) ANCA World Autism Ambassador I travelled to Canada last year, to receive a world award (huge honor – I don’t believe I’m worthy of a national – let alone a world award – I find it mind boggling; but the support has changed my life!) where I was recognized as an world ANCA Autism Ambassador. I also provided my first workshops and 121 role modelling sessions on the world stage while in Canada, educating and inspiring some of the world’s leading professionals in autism, and families whose lives have been touched by autism. My workshop was streamed to countries participating in the World Autism Festival worldwide. My role as an ambassador also includes: -Nominate autistic stars within the UK, for the prestigious UK award – Consulting with other countries to host the world autism festival in the UK – Journalist and writer for the ANCA Naturally Autistic Magazine. – social media supporter – sign posting world wide organizations, to help us here in the UK (or the other way around). – Hosting and presenting awards to other UK recipients – going on ANCA radio, and raising awareness of my autism activist, sign posting and singing praises of autism organizations here in the UK etc -121 Role modelling and supporting autistic people globally who participate in ANCA, to express their voices, find their positives and establish support to best reach their goals. -Speak on International Radio to represent UK and Autism.
5) Autism Author – My highly anticipated, inspiring and educating book “AspergerWorld : My Fairy Jam Jar” My inspiring, educational and illustrated book is being published this June, in paper back and ebook; so this is an hugely exciting time for me😊 my subtitle: “One women, one wish, one inspiring story. Be enchanted by personal and professional insight into AspergerWorld.” Blurb: “Are you looking for a unique book that can challenge perceptions and enthuse understanding of the hidden depths of Aspergers Syndrome? AspergerWorld is a fascinating multi national and world award winning insight with an aim to empower people with Asperger’s syndrome, their Families and Professionals. Cry, laugh and be inspired by Joelys story. Be amazed through the challenges of childhood; communicating with Heiroglyphics, Behavioural Issues and Meltdowns to discovering the roller coaster of Mental Health Issues, Independence Training and Learning Environments at School, right up to learning about Life Skills, Shutdowns and Problem Solving as an adult Autism Activist. My Fairy Jam Jar contains rare personal, and professional knowledge of the hidden hardships and quirks of Aspergers Syndrome. With invaluable advice for professionals and parents, this book aids positive understanding, with real life and inspiring stories.” Reviews: “I wish I had this book at the start of my Special educational needs career; passionate and insightful view of life with Asperger’s Syndrome” Lorraine Petersen OBE, educational consultant and trustee of ‘Ambitious about Autism’ charity “An inspiring account of how to feel proud of ones autism or ones difference. Joely explains how to minimize the disability, and reminds us to change our perceptions of Autism to reveal each persons talents.” Professor Simon Baren-Cohen FBE, Professor of psychopathology and world renowned Autism expert. “The best book on the subject I have read. Ms Colmer invites you into her world; helping anyone understand. I highly recommend” Denise mcintosh – USA TV producer. Personal interest in Autism “Human and Loveable; My Fairy Jam Jar is importance to everyone; not only those with a disability, but their parents, carers, teachers and even the government”. Jeffrey Newman, Educational Management and UK founder of the charity ‘Earth Charter’. More reviews (and the full versions of the reviews shown above) can be seen on the link provided. http://www.aspergerworld.co.uk/endorsements.html
6) My website www.aspergerworld.co.uk Having realized that the people I helped through my autism activism, needed more to reference too, I decided to make a change. I designed my website for the global autistic community who would benefit from my professional and personal insight, but that couldn’t afford the postage on my book (my website has been running for two years now but I was an autism activist before – I just wanted to help and improve my services). I designed the entire website, all the content, illustrations and the designs by myself. In this way I am quite media savvy, and have learnt these skills from helping to design (using rather complicated software) an award winning ‘Chatterbox’ and ‘Access Dorset’ youth and adult disability magazine in my local area. Ever since my websites launch two years ago, it has received high views daily from across the globe, ranging from 150-300 views every day. This figure often doubles after an event or workshop. My website has also been used in parliament at the houses of commons to raise understanding of autism, for their autistic employees. 7) My work in the Media to raise understanding of Autism or disabilities As an autism activist, I am often going the extra mile (often literally, when I am traveling the country for speeches to help people who need it!) to help those in need; this includes using the skills I have learnt, to really make a different through media. I am currently working on a confidential TV show in the USA, about creative authors and autism, which won’t be aired for at least a few months; unfortunately I am not in a position to reveal much more than that. BBC Generation 2015 I was chosen by the BBC to represent the countries disabled and autistic youth during the general election in 2015: I got involved with a number of projects, most note worthy: BBC – Politics show – Autism and Politics. With the help of my brilliant family and my work with BBC Generation, I did an interview for TV; BBC’s “Politics Show” back in March 2015. In the show I am in full activist mode; discussing disability rights, education, ‘The Safe Places Scheme’ and discrimination against disabled people. I feel honored that I have had the opportunity to express such passions of mine, to raise awareness of important things, on TV. I love that there was a debate by M.P’s about the topics that I discussed; very interesting! BBC Radio ONE – nationally award winning documentary at the Autism un-cut Awards, National Autistic Society – “Stories from the spectrum” with George the Poet. My wonderful sister and I participated in an hour long Radio One feature, with 20 minutes dedicated to our interview. Working alongside, up and coming music artist, George the Poet, and his incredibly inspiring brother Kenny, who has Autism. We recorded a show called “Stories from the Spectrum” which followed the lives of three young people with autism spectrum disorders in England – I was one of them. The radio show explores the spectrum with all of its weird and wonderful quirks. My sister and I discussed why I love my disability, the support systems in place to empower me and the autistic spectrums hidden hardships and quirky gifts. The whole experience was brilliant, and I certainly learnt a lot! I recommend you listen to the whole documentary as it is very eye opening; however, my bit is at the end of part one (21 minutes in), and the beginning of part two (finish at 3 minutes in). Below you can read a Newsbeat article about the Radio documentary http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/31493451/george-the-poet-jokes-about-autism-are-ignorant Other media: USA TV Fairy Tale Access – “Aspergers hidden hardships and quirks” I am over the moon to announce that my episode “Aspergerworld: Her Fairy Jam Jar” is airing across American TV; with Fairy Tale fans watching in 110 countries! I am so pleased that my message to spread positive awareness and understanding of the hidden hardships, and the quirks, of my disability has been enabled to help the Autistic Community internationally! SUMMARY: The first half an hour is talking about the hidden hardships and quirks and after that is about my volunteering, school, and advise I have for employers whilst interviewing Autistic candidates. Enjoy! Hope FM Radio I regularly go on Hope fm to raise awareness of autism and to showcase to the world my latest project. Access Dorset – TV host ‘Independence Street’ Through my work with Access Dorset, I was a host of a local TV series, and a citizen journalist for a series called ‘independence street’, where we showcased disabled peoples talents, hidden hardships, and struggles in day to day life, with positive and inspiring content, by going into our community, to allow real disabled people to show case their voice, by providing journalism training, in any way they can / wish to. please see links below ANCA magazine Chatterbox magazine ambassador, peer mentor and magazine designer Access dorset trustee and magazine designer Other award winning projects I have worked with: The Chatterboxes youth disability group – peer mentor, trustee and magazine designer. http://ymcabournemouth.org.uk/youth-centres/disability-youth-projects/ Nationally Award Winning Safe Places Scheme I am delighted to announce that ‘The Safe Places Scheme’ in Bournemouth and Poole won a national prestigious award. The Safe Places Scheme is invaluable and I am proud to be a part of something so special and life changing. The chatterboxes and myself, designed and implemented the scheme in Bournemouth, by providing public Safe Havens, the scheme can aid disabled people to learn life skills whilst making public places more accessible; the best part is that this scheme really makes a difference. The Safe Places Scheme provides reassurance that in times of need, there is somewhere safe they can go to in order to get help from trained staff members. As part of our scheme, I helped turn local buildings and businesses in our communities into safe places, that are accessible to disabled people should they need help (if they have been bullied, are lost, had something stolen or feel ill etc), with all staff trained with our 121 disability understanding programs, (I helped train staff also) what to do / not to do etc, and safety information packs I designed. Each disabled person is provided with safe places card, which details their disability contact numbers and medication. There are over 100 safe places in my local community. It’s an unfortunate fact that 8/10 disabled people are bullied, with 1,200 known disability hate crimes every week in the UK – this scheme helps combat these problems by providing safe places when disabled people really need it. The scheme has since been rolled out nationwide, and has seen a vast increase in disabled people gaining life skills, and independence, as they now feel safer to leave their homes, and be in public places. http://www.aspergerworld.co.uk/capture-a-challenge.html Health watch Dorset patch work quilt of youth voices – what need to changed and what is good about health and social care ion Dorset http://www.healthwatchdorset.co.uk/ http://www.healthwatchdorset.co.uk/news/healthwatch-and-afc-bournemouth-insights-children-and-young-people Why am I different to other candidates? Passionate I am passionate, always striving to improve and I will never give up, on myself, or other people. 121 role modelling It is my belief that with the right support and understanding autistic people kindness and quirks can shine; so I make it my responsibility to becomes that support, learning to understand individuals through my 121 role modelling, and then my job to help un cover the hidden aspects and positives, to empower. Often I will do whatever I can, to do this – far more than my ‘job description’. I am a volunteer: I am also a volunteer; which means that I am not motivated by money – I just wish to help, and I really am making a difference. rare personal and professional insight What hurdles have I over come? My PTSD, as described above, and My disability. my disability effects every second of my life a in a huge variety of hidden ways. But I have learnt to love it all the same. Autistic shutdowns – severe chronic fatigue and pain These are a type of information overload – but can be caused by daily life, and normal hardships which most people can cope with, without any problems. Things like coping with a change in routine, problem solving or communicating whilst also being overloaded can cause shutdowns. Shutdowns is a retreat from stress, and inability to do anything at all but rest. Basically it means that all of my physical, mental and emotional abilities will slowly drop, until they have disappeared entirely; the only way to recuperate my abilities is to rest in sensory friendly surroundings. This means that I have severe chronic agony, in all parts of my body, with no medical reason, and I get seizure like symptoms and pass out randomly on a daily basis, and can suddenly become unable to talk, walk, hold things, complete any of my usual abilities or life skills, or think to my usual abilities. This can happen to me at a moments notice; and often after doing a speech or workshop, I will be bed bound recovering for a few days; but I don’t mind that – being an autism activist is my biggest passion; it is far too important to help challenge misconceptions and help people understand the hidden hardships and the positives of Aspergers, and so, I wouldn’t have it any other way. problem solving When I am overloaded (always) my problem solving skills can be really poor, making me unable to realise that I need a coat to go out, even if im looking outside at the rain, or how to re arrange a dish washer when it is full. These are basic problems, that arent even problems to most people but to me, they take up so much time, effort, concentration and abilities that my basic life skills can become impossible to deal with. Imagine then, what happens to my ability to problem solve, when a big problem comes along? life skills. despite my accomplishments, I have 18 / 100 basic life skills. The average person my age can safely complete around 80 / 100 life skills… I hope this gives you an understanding of how much my disability affects me, and just how much I have progressed from the girl who used to do none, and progressed to help others as an autism activist. communication For me, I find communication very difficult almost as if im listening to someone who keeps talking in different lanuages. I process infiormation very slowly, which means that I cant always respond quick enough for people to want to talk to me again. 60% of people think that someone who doesn’t respond quick enough is being rude; this one of the million reasons why I am so passionate about changing perceptions and educating people. specialist topic – autism Despite these difficulties I have established my biggest passion and become an expert in my own right. Through my specialist topic I am suddenly able to communicate and help raise an understanding of hidden hardships and quirks. These are difficulties that will never go away, and are unlikely to improve, but my attitude and ability to cope, has transformed my life, because I have been empowered by support and my autism activism. My aims for the future: -Improve my art; research, participate in training, and engage with other people within our autistic community to better improve and enhance my understanding; so I am always striving to better myself and my autism activism – I am writing a second book, about Asperger’s, which I hope to publish. – More speeches, nationwide. -allow my autism activism to be improved through multi-media – become a blogger about mental health and autism. – More Role modelling workshops inside schools and youth groups – Autism understanding festival(s), events – various ‘AspergerWorld’ Book events – Trophies or certificates to recognize the role models on my website or those who have participated in my ‘positivity challenge’. – my website to become sign posting for all the brilliant organizations I have worked with locally – including awards and nominations -Become a TED talker -annimated speech and videography to help raise awareness and understanding of autism – create video content for my ‘capture a challenge’ page (life skills and hidden hardships in daily life with autism) ‘submit a soaker’ answering questions from audience, if I get the answer wrong I get water tipped over my head – these are questions I know the answer to, but might not be able to access this information under pressure – to show case how hard it is to work under pressure) ‘unfair testing’ (video of information and sensory overload of an exam in a big hall with no support – to show case how un fair it is to be tested in this way) and ‘the worries of warriors’ anxiety daily normal life, OCD, hidden pain, mental -health videos or vlogs. – travel abroad and blog about the experience of traveling and disability – volunteer abroad – Get married (I am engaged 😊 ) – do more on social media – sell and market my book, to help more people 😊 Video evidence http://www.aspergerworld.co.uk/capture-a-challenge.html -includes my appearance on BBC Politics show, discussing autism and politics – My appearance on a nationally awarded radio one documentary called ‘stories from the spectrum’ -Includes my team and I winning a national accessible Britain award for a safe places scheme I help design and implement into my community – rolled out nationwide – my episode on award winning American TV called – Fairy Tale Access, where I discuss the hidden hardships and quirks of autism and my book, “AspergerWorld : My Fairy Jam Jar”. http://www.accessdorset.org.uk/ http://www.accessdorset.org.uk/virtual-centre-home/ The trailer for independence street; of which I am a host and journalist http://www.accessdorset.org.uk/homepage-news/big-idea/ www.aspergerworld.co.uk My website. http://www.aspergerworld.co.uk/pre-order-my-a.s-book.html For all details and reviews for my book “AspergerWorld : My Fairy Jam Jar” http://www.aspergerworld.co.uk/my-autism-activism.html To find out more about my Autism Activism and Motivational Speaking; includes reviews. http://www.aspergerworld.co.uk/endorsements.html To read previous nominations for my previous awards and the reviews and endorsements for my book http://www.aspergerworld.co.uk/inspire.html Where I recognize positive role models who inspire me due to their achievements within themselves, community or relating to disability. -My positivity challenge encouraging audience to volunteer – List of my awards for my autism activism and motivational speaking I apologize that this is so long, there was no word limit, and my disability does make me struggle with editing down – especially when there is a lot of content to write!
Luke has grown up in a ‘lower class’ area of Southampton where there are few opportunities for those who do not have much in the terms of money and where there is a high rate of PP students from difficult backgrounds. As Luke was entering his GCSE year, his father dropped dead from a brain aneurism whilst watching his sons play football. He left behind a wife, Luke and 2 other children. Luke felt he needed to step up and he did. He strived to help his mother and family, to do well in school and college and go to university. In 2010 he created Testland Multisport Coaching whilst still at college. This was to provide further sporting opportunities for schools and individuals in the area. Through this he noticed the lack of help children got in general when it came to their sporting aspirations and money. Students with talent that couldn’t pursue their dreams, disabled children who couldn’t be involved because of limitations to their wheelchairs etc. In 2011 he decided he wanted to give to his community to help those children who didn’t have the opportunities that many have in sport and life in general. He persuaded a group of his friends to jump on board and TSP (Testlands Support Project) was born. Their motto is that they are ‘United in our common goal; every child, irrelevant of their starting points, deserve an opportunity and a chance to experience success, not only in school but also in life.’ Since 2011 TSP has helped over 3500 children in Southampton, raising money through sponsored event including: Bike ride from Southampton to Paris, 102 hour Guinness World Football match, Bag Packing, Dance Competitions … the list seems endless. They have provided sports’ equipment, transportation, kit, summer schools, clubs, and modified equipment for those who are disabled so they can enjoy sport and 1:1 lessons for children and groups who would otherwise miss out on opportunities due to finance issues. For me he is an inspiration. He shows what can be done with nothing if you have a good heart, perseverance and determination. He works harder than anyone I know – supports his family, runs the multisport business, runs community projects, keeps the charity moving from strength to strength and helps countless children to live their dreams. He does not see himself as someone from a poor area who lost their dad at a crucial time – he sees himself as someone who can improve the lives of others.
Well, I started a workplace choir at Marwell Zoo about 5 years ago and after seeing how good it was for all staff I decided to branch out to more organisations and do this under an umbrella which is now known as SingForce. I know how good singing makes me feel and I just want to make others feel happy, positive and want them to enjoy singing and having fun.
Life is so stressful and worrying at times and if I can go in to a workplace for one hour a week and help people feel like their worries can disappear for a short while, I feel like my job is done.
I now personally run 9 workplace choirs and have 4 other SingForce leaders running sessions in Bournemouth, Southampton, Winchester and even in East Sussex. We’ve just had an enquiry from a business in Birmingham so the plan is to expand and help more and more people in work feel less stressed during the working day.
I also know, from my knowledge of mental health that the biggest group that don’t get enough support are those in employment who don’t present any obvious signs and who are functional. Not only does singing help reduce that stress but it also brings colleagues closer together meaning that hopefully in times of need they may have somebody to reach out to.
I’ve attached a link to an article involving a flashmob I help organise earlier this year. I’m all about getting people singing and having fun.
I’ve been a vocal coach since I was 18 and have progressed into leading choirs. I run a professional choir called ‘Love Soul Choir’ and also have been taking this into the workplace under the name ‘SingForce’ where I’m encouraging people to express themselves through music, helping reduce the stress that can be present in the workplace.
We were part of a flashmob earlier in the year that reached over 700,000 views on Facebook where we wanted to show people how music and singing is a choir can create unity.
I had a difficult time concentrating at school, without a way of seeing what I was learning in practice, it just didn’t feel relevant to me. I resigned
myself to being one of those people who ‘got by’ and held down a job at a restaurant. It wasn’t until I saw a flyer for an apprenticeship in development that I couldn’t ignore the fact that I wanted more, I wanted to code. I knew it was then or never and took a leap of faith, applying for the course. Since I became a Junior Developer at Cold Banana Studio, I’ve been fast tracked onto a Degree Apprenticeship. Taking on every opportunity that comes my way and also creating my own, my skills have improved immeasurably and I’m so proud that I’m know a billable asset to the company. My eye for improvement has been a huge benefit to the business. I realised that we were spending hours of valuable time checking different support portals for our various customers. Support tickets were all managed in different ways and there wasn’t a consistent process. Having identified there was an issue, I set about finding the solution. Building a support ticket system from scratch was a challenging task, but we now have a custom support portal that pulls the details in from all our clients to one place. The team can filter and display all the new and outstanding cases and if I do say so myself it looks rather nice on the wall in the office! When the team needs help, I’m the go-to-guy; a fast and efficient worker who’s eager to help out in a pinch. When the keynote speaker fell through for the Company’s first event, I jumped into action and built an interactive online quiz to keep the attendees entertained. As a .NET development agency who specialise in Umbraco, it was only right that the quiz was not only about Umbraco, but built on Umbraco! I had less than a day to build the site and functionality, and in fact I was still coding as the guests started to arrive… but I managed to complete it in the nick of time and it went down a treat. Give it a try for yourself here: http://quiz.coldbananastudio.com/
Looking at the amount I have achieved in just a year I now know that my future will be bright. In September I’ll be training the next wave of Development Apprentices which is a real testament to how dedicated I am to my work. I try my hardest daily to help the company grow and succeed and I am so passionate about my career in development. I’d be honoured to win this award, not just for myself, but for Cold Banana Studio who’ve believed in me and supported me to become the Developer I am today.
I joined Inspire in 2014 after finishing my A-Levels at Parkstone Grammar School. The role began as an administrative role within the support team with a focus on IT in the business. Being my first full time job I did not know what to expect, I have always had an interest in IT ever since I can remember. My dad works in the future technologies industry and his knowledge and creativity has influenced me my entire life. After a year of being at Inspire, the company recognised my hard work and interest in IT and offered me the opportunity to take an IT application specialist course at Bournemouth and Poole College which I attend one day a week. This has been fundamental in my growth and development in the IT industry. It has benefited the business in many ways by boosting my confidence and knowledge, I have a better IT understanding and can perform a lot better in my role at Inspire. I am currently working towards my Level 3 IT Application Specialist BTEC Diploma, in my first year of college I completed the Level 2 IT Application BTEC Diploma course. At Level 2 I studied the following units:
- Unit 233 – Developing Personal and Team Effectiveness Using IT (mandatory)
- Unit 232 – Understanding the potential of IT (mandatory)
- Unit 201 – Improving the Productivity (mandatory)
- Unit 202 – IT User Fundamentals
- Unit 227 – Using Spreadsheet Software
- Unit 207 – Using the internet
- Unit 209 – Using Emails
- Unit 225 – Presentation software
- Unit 303 – Set up an IT system
These units have given me a much better understanding of the software we use daily in the office i.e. Microsoft office. Having a better understanding of these applications allowed me to provide better support and assistance to my colleagues. It also allowed me to show colleagues how to use these applications more effectively and use them to their full potential.
Unit 303 – I had the opportunity to set up an IT system which was particularly interesting to me because it was an area I had not researched at the time. It gave me a much better understanding on how IT systems work and I was consequently able to apply my knowledge in the work place. Currently I am completing and putting into practice the following Level 3 units:
- Unit 333 – Developing Personal and Team Effectiveness Using IT (mandatory)
- Unit 332 – Understanding the potential of IT (mandatory)
- Unit 301 – Improving the Productivity (mandatory)
- Unit 304 – Optimise IT system performance
- Unit 130 – Internet Safety for IT users
- Unit 305 – IT Security for Users
- Unit 318 – Database software
- Unit 326 – Project Management Software
I chose these units because they are very different to the units from my first year and I wanted to study different areas in IT to broaden my knowledge. These units have helped me alongside the projects I have been a part of this year and have boosted my confidence in my role.
Testimonial: “I have been Gemma Whitmore’s NVQ Assessor for the past 12 months during which time she has achieved her IT Application Specialist Level 2 qualification and is now working towards her Level 3.
Gemma’s knowledge and understanding of her subject has grown immensely and she is now working confidently on her own and making a difference to the team she works with on a daily basis at Inspire Professional Services. I know she will always be an asset to which ever company she goes to work for in the future.” – Nicole Grice, Apprenticeship co-ordinator. One of the first things I introduced to Inspire Professional Services was the use of printer stores. This is where a user will send a document to print and instead of it straight away printing on the shared printer it will now sit in a printer store. When I began at Inspire Professional Services I noticed that a lot of printing was left and forgotten on the printers and would just be confidentially wasted at the end of the day. This was a waste of paper and ink, I thought there must be a different approach available that would make the office more efficient and eco-friendlier. Now for a user to get their printing they would need to open their store on the printer and print the documents they want. This means that users who work from home could send documents to print and then print them when they were next in the office. Similarly, it allowed users in the office to send multiple documents to print and bulk print them when needed. This successfully stopped paper from being left and forgotten at the printer. Users gave positive feedback saying that the office looked tidier and in fact having a printer store made it a lot easier when it came to printing a lot of documents. It also stopped users’ prints getting muddled at the printer. Whilst working at Inspire I noticed that there was a common complaint, slow emails! It really did affect users, Outlook would take ages to open, it would be slow to search and open other users’ calendars could also take a while to update. The common cause was simply the size of users’ inboxes, their emails had built up over the years and never had been cleared of unnecessary emails. I made users aware that they needed to permanently delete unnecessary emails, and that just leaving them in the deleted folder was essentially the same as just moving them. This is something I am continuing to monitor. Going forward, after doing some research, I decided it would be a good idea to introduce cloud based instant messaging. This meant that the data was not kept locally on any device and therefore did not slow the device down. It also meant that users Outlook profiles would not be clogged with internal messages.
I decided that the Microsoft application Yammer would be the best for the company, it was free and easy to use. Currently we are using Microsoft office 2013, however in the future if we are looking to migrate to Microsoft office 365. Yammer is integrated into Microsoft 365 therefore our current yammer accounts would not be lost and we will keep all our data. It also means that users would not need to learn a new system. To increase acceptance of the new application by the company, I thought it would be a good idea to provide staff with an explanation as to why we are migrating to instant messaging as that way staff can understand why we are doing it and therefore be more likely to ‘want’ to use it and convert to the new way of working:
Since Yammer is so user friendly I decided the quickest way to get it implemented was to allow users to set up their account themselves. To do this I created instructions on how to do so and made them aware if they needed any help they are more than welcome to ask:
Once users were set up on Yammer, to ensure all staff felt comfortable using the new application I provided short training sessions on how to use Yammer in small groups. Once Yammer had been used for a couple of weeks, I then decided to go around the office and have one to ones with everyone to get their feedback. On the whole feedback was positive with most staff noting that communication in the company had improved, this was particularly down to the fact that all internal communications are in one place and you can also create client / project groups to communicate with other staff members in. Inspire Professional Services is an award-winning accountants, tax and business advisory firm located on South Coast of England. In 2015, we were looking at different software and taking a best of breed approach where we wanted the best software for each area of work. We decided to implement a new accounting software called Caseware. I was involved in the installation and configuration of Caseware. I had to manually install Caseware onto users’ computers, ensure they had a user set up with the correct permissions, upload our custom templates and connect them to the database. Also in 2015 we decided to introduce a CRM system, called Sugar CRM, this was to help with the marketing side of the business (managing potential clients, event marketing etc). I headed this project with the Support Team manager, Bev, I was involved in the data import and configuration of the system. There was a lot of work involved in the configuration as we were starting from scratch we needed to decide what fields we needed on each style of record and what layout we wanted the forms to be. Once we had that decided we needed to clean the data and import it into the system. Unfortunately, after using the new accounting software we noticed a flaw, we found we were double entering data due to the fact the accounting software did not integrate with our database software. We also had a similar issue with our CRM system, since it did not integrate with our client database software we found ourselves double entering information. Therefore, we needed to rethink our strategy, we recognised the software was flawed and decided we needed to invest in an integrated package. After searching the market with Bev we came across Wolters Kluwer CCH. CCH is a provider of software and information services for tax, accounting and audit workers.
Then in 2016 Bev and I, with the help and support of Director Andrew, started the CCH project this project is massive and is still on-going. CCH replaces, Caseware – our accounting and corporation tax software, Digita personal tax – our personal tax software, Digita Practice management – our client database and Sugar CRM, our CRM system. It also allowed us to introduce a portal area for our clients. Bev and I headed up this project and continue to be the main contact in the office.
Once Andrew decided CCH was the software to use I was involved with the exporting and cleansing of the data from our then current pieces software, this was to ensure all client and contact information was up to date. As this was a huge task this required the additional help of the Support Team. Once this was completed we were ready to import our data and test using CCH as a contact database. A lot of training was involved, firstly beginning with the support team. Since we are an office of 42 not everyone could be involved in the training. We decided that it would be best to train the support team on generally using CCH so that they would have the best knowledge and understanding of CCH and would be able to help other users. Bev and I held training sessions for the rest of the staff to show them how to use: timesheets, searching CCH and document management. Once users were familiar with CCH and using it as a contact database we introduced other areas of the software i.e. Accounts, Corporation tax, personal tax and workflows. A mixture of users was involved in the training depending on the area it applied to. I was always involved at the implementation stage for all products to ensure they integrated correctly. Ellen, the personal tax manager, and I created a workflow together which showed the stages of personal tax returns. This is key for the personal tax team, it helps managers and the personal tax team keep track of their workload. With all staff using CCH I was, and still am, the main point of contact for feedback. If users come across problems they will make me aware. Depending on the issue, I will either be able to fix the issue myself or will get in contact with the CCH support on behalf of the staff member. Being the main contact for all issues allows me to stay in the loop and helps my knowledge grow by being aware of what has fixed previous issues. It also means staff are more likely to come to me when they have issues freeing up their time to continue working on chargeable work. Once all the core products were in place and being used we started to look at the CRM software, called workbooks. This CRM links directly to our CCH database and pulls through all our data. We use our CRM for marketing purposes, therefore the data in CRM goes into more depth than it does in CCH. Similarly, we needed to pull our data from our then current CRM system and import it into workbooks. Once the data was in Workbooks I designed the system layouts to apply to our needs. Now I am currently working on setting up client portals, this is a project I have taken on as my own. I started by researching how the portal works and how it can be customised to our needs. I branded it to our Inspire branding and started testing on ‘dummy’ clients. It is currently still in testing stages, I have created a handful of portals for real clients and getting their feedback before creating portals for all clients. Once I am happy that I have ironed out all the kinks I will hold training sessions for staff to show them how the portal works and how it should be used and what it should be used for. Our future CCH plans is to introduce KPI monitoring, which we will use to monitor our data and set tasks to complete depending on certain triggers. This will also be a project that I manage. In 2015 Inspire Professional Services held its first conference aimed at entrepreneurs and business owners in the south coast. There was a lot of planning needed for this event especially as it was the first one we had organised. The conference was held at Bournemouth University for an audience of 100 people, with 3 inspiring speakers. I was heavily involved in putting together the presentations, this included editing the presentations to make sure they had the same branding. On the day of the event it was a last-minute decision to put me in control of audio and visual. This did put me out of my comfort zone, having to sit at the front of a large crowd on the stage and ensure all audio and visuals transacted smoothly. Thankfully it all went smoothly and the conference was a hit! Even though it challenged me, I am glad I stepped up to the challenge as it made me realise that I can do things that are out of my comfort zone and they really aren’t as bad as you imagine them to be. This positively impacted Inspire as I felt I learnt so much, it was a new experience and I felt more comfortable being involved at the next conference. Considering the first Inspire conference was such a hit we decided to do another the following year, only bigger and better. This time it was being held at the BIC in Bournemouth and was an audience of 200 people. Once again, I was involved in creating and editing the presentations, this time however I was prepared to be involved with the audio and the visual on the day. In fact, the venue offered AV support, therefore on the day I sat with the AV team and directed them on the day what was needed to be done. This allowed smooth communications on the day between the venue and Inspire. Before you know it Inspire Professional Services will be holding their 2017 Entrepreneurs conference, I will be involved in a similar way again this year. Ensuring that the presentation runs smoothly and I will oversee the AV support. Other than working on the projects mentioned above, my day to day role in the office is first line support. This involves users coming to me for any IT related issues, I will always investigate the issue and try to resolve them myself. Both software and hardware related. The more issues I come across the further my knowledge grows. I have found it very useful to keep a log of all issues and what the resolution was. This means that I have a knowledge base to reference if an issue reoccurs. It also makes me aware of any patterns i.e. if an issue relates to an update it will be made obvious by multiple users reporting the same issue after an update is applied. For issues, I cannot resolve I will call our IT support, Quostar, I have a close relationship with Quostar they have taught me a lot. Being the only person in the office with an IT role I turn to Quostar a lot for information. Often at Inspire Professional Services users will need to move desks to work with different teams and people, when they do am I involved in moving the IT to ensure it is moved correctly and safely. Since I am the only person in the office with an IT role, I like to ensure the devices are looked after. I keep track on all hardware and a log of all upgrades and maintenance has been performed on hardware. When we have a new starter join Inspire Professional Services I will set up the user’s profile and hardware. I will show the new starter how to use the hardware and will give them an overview of our software and how it is used. As if migrating software was not a big enough project for the year, Andrew, Bev and I decided it was time to upgrade all hardware in the office. This includes new PCs, laptops, monitors, mice and keyboards. I have taken this on as my project, I am currently in the process our rolling out the new hardware. I have tested the new pieces of hardware to ensure the operating system is compatible with our software. I am rolling out the new computers in batches so that I can get individual feedback. It also allows issues to come up with a handful of users instead of the entire office therefore minimising disruption to work. This roll out involves setting up the local admin user on the computers, connecting it to the Inspire domain and installing the software for the user, followed by setting the user up. This hardware upgrade is linked to our office refurbishment, which will be completed by the end of this year. I will be involved in the refurbishment, my role aimed at the IT structure in the office. I am planning what and how the computers will be wired. Aiming to make the office a tidy environment. Before any new furniture is placed I will be testing the Ethernet ports in the office as they are old and I am aware that a few are broken. Over the years my role has grown massively with a larger focus on IT. I furtherly enjoy my job and I love hearing from my manager, Bev, that she has noticed my knowledge and confidence grow and continue to grow. It is good to know that others have noticed my progression that has not only been a positive impact on my life but has also helped improve the company.
Regardless, to support the nomination I’ve attached some feedback I’ve had in the past year through our internal recognition system. I was debating including some examples of the more complex responses I’ve given to advisers / customers, but decided against this due to potential data protection issues (without the specifics that I’d need to remove, they wouldn’t make an awful lot of sense!).
• Over the past year, I’ve been nominated for 12 STARS from my colleagues across the business (examples attached).
• I have won two separate STARS ‘Panel’ Awards, as well as a separate ‘Manager’s Choice’ award for the feedback I have received from my colleagues.
I’ve also done a little blurb describing my role, and how I see what I do within the company, below:
I view my own role as taking complex topics, and explaining them in simpler terms to either our internal or external stakeholders. As part of this work, I’m required to complete a lot of data interrogation and analysis, using my knowledge of the technical and regulatory environment within the financial services sector to draw conclusions from the data, and clearly explain these conclusions to others.
My role within the company has also expanded during the past year – this has involved taking greater ownership of a number of ‘incidents’ that have affected our day-to-day business activity. One of the best (or worst!) examples of this was when, after the EU Referendum results in July last year, several UK property funds suspended trading. This left us with a number of issues, which could only be solved with a synergised understanding of (a) our own products, (b) the regulatory challenges we faced and (c) intimate knowledge of our operating systems.
My role in the project involved extracting, analysing and organising thousands of lines of data, explaining the impacts of the incident to other members of our company, and providing detailed instructions for how they were to manually work around our system’s limitations, ensuring we achieved the best possible outcomes for our customers.
I really enjoy what I do, and I take pride in completing every piece of work to the best standard I can attain – whether it’s simply a query from a confused or struggling member of our contact centre, or a lengthy explanation to placate an irate adviser! I also love working with the people I do – they are all outstanding, and are equally as deserving of commendation as I am.
Feedback from colleagues from the annual review:
Dec has been great this year. I have been impressed with his attitude to challenges and his ability to get involved and take accountability of tasks. I think his logical thinking combined with his passion to do the right thing is a good for the team. He’s not afraid to speak up and won’t back down unless convinced, which is rare in the team. I see Dec more than just someone who works on the tech side of the team, he’s been working closely with the system guys and learning SQL and other system processes. These extra skills/knowledge help him to be more ‘well rounded’ and better at his job.
Even though Dec is fairly new to the team, in my mind he is one of our best already. He’s an example to anyone who joins us and this should be recognised for a fantastic year.
Start: Having confidence that you are one of the best!
Continue: Learning the tech stuff and being professional
Thank you Dec
Dec’s PiP is happening before I get back, but I want to get some feedback in for him. I’ll keep it fairly brief, partly because I’ll soon be logging off for the holiday, but mainly because there’s not much to add to the frequent verbal feedback I give you about him, which I hope you’ll take into account.
Dec’s contribution has exceeded all expectations this last 6 months. He’s carried the load of supporting Aimee admirably, with patience and generosity with his knowledge, and played his full part in keeping the mailbox going, especially in picking up the many queries that require analysis of MI reports, sequel, spreadsheets etc. He may find these easier than I would (well I wouldn’t do them at all), but that doesn’t mean they are easy….they are painstaking and often frustrating and boring to work on.
HIs performance with the suspended funds has been outstanding. I don’t say this out loud in the team, but I genuinely believe it was Dec’s involvement that finally brought a measure of control into the ‘units off/ units on’ side of the operation. He spent an awful lot of time – which he found frustrating rather than enjoyable, but still persevered with – trying to get all the different spreadsheets into one; he liaised with Nathan and Kirk and with Tech Amendments to iron out the difficulties; and on top of all that, he virtually ran the operation with the processing teams (Claims, B&I, Money Out, Money Out Techs, AND Re-Reg Out) single-handedly. He also carried out pivotal actions when the funds re-opened, played a full part in all the pre and post meetings, and has continued to deal with ongoing issues arising, right up to the day before his Christmas break.
In addition to all that he has kept the Gross Rebates and ISA residency work up together, and all but completed a review of the ISA corrections to make sure the actions that we approve (compensating within or outside of the ISA) have been carried out correctly.
He does all this unassumingly and without fuss, and more importantly, with endless good humour.
There’s nothing I can say he needs to improve on……I’d be keen to know if anyone else can recommend anything, either!
I hope this is useful – let me know if you want to discuss anything.
Internal Stars Recognition Scheme – Comments from Colleagues
Special Thanks And Recognition Scheme – Nomination
You have been nominated for Customer Champion by your colleague Michaela Duke.
Summary of nomination:
Declan went out of his way to help my team resolve a query today, which I am very grateful for. It was regarding CGT and we could not get a clear answer from the advisor as to how to proceed- and I think our confusion caused the FA to be confused as well! I would not normally want to pass a call on to another team, but I am so grateful that Dec offered to make the call for us, and give the FA some clairty on the situation, in order for him to confirm what he wanted us to do. Thank you 🙂
Thank you for your hard work and well done for this achievement!
Special Thanks And Recognition Scheme – Nomination
You have been nominated for Customer Champion by your colleague Helen Turner.
Summary of nomination:
I had a customer on the phone who had paid quite a large tax charge on their account and I was unsure why. Dec sent over a clear explanation putting all of the calculations into details, explaining exactly what the gains had been over the last 5 years and the tax paid over the last 5 years to make it really simple for me to explain to the customer. I am so grateful for his help as it was a little too technical for my area of knowledge. The way he laid out all of the detail meant that I could explain everything in detail and give me the knowledge for future calls. Thanks Dec, you are a STAR!
Thank you for your hard work and well done for this achievement!
Special Thanks And Recognition Scheme – Panel Nomination
You have been recognised by your Line Manager for going beyond expectations in the nomination you received from your colleague Hayley Baldwin for Business Ambassador on 11/04/2017 and they have submitted this nomination to the STARS Panel for review.
Summary of nomination:
Feedback from Stuart Edwards:
I just wanted to drop a few lines in regards to the incredible internal service provided by Lisa and Declan on 5th April regarding two Timothy James & Partners ISAs.
We received cheques for Mr and Mrs Martin on 31st March, which were presented – nice and easy, so we thought. On Monday 3rd April after 5pm, Gareth received a bounced call from Samantha Luc at TJP advising the cheques were being cancelled and the bank were sending a replacement CHAPS payment. I picked this up first thing Tuesday 4th because I knew this would be rejected – there is a clear ISA regulation which requires us to void any bounced cheques as we cannot ‘prefund’ via a failed cheque.
By complete bad luck, a number of Schroder funds received late pricing for 4th April. This meant that two of the above NTU’s did not clear, leaving full ISA allowances displaying as used. As a result, the FA couldn’t key a new online app for the replacement ISA top-ups paid by CHAPS. Disaster! I presented this with you to Mark Hammett and Declan on the morning of the 5th. Declan came up with a superb plan to work around the late pricing, allowing us to clear the funds manually via the reconciliation and then to physically reduce the ISA allowance remaining from £15240.00 to £0.00 – which is what would have happened automatically if NTU had traded as expected. Due to the fund being used before, the only variable was number of units so these could be reconciled manually. Declan oversaw the solution within one hour and this then allowed FA to submit the online applications.
Had this not been possible or Declan’s plan not been proposed, once again these two clients would have lost the ISA allowances as the NTU would have only cleared on the morning of the 6th. Declan’s superb plan here made sure this unexpected fork in the road didn’t deny the client their subscription. FA was hugely grateful and couldn’t believe the bad luck on the delayed fund pricing.
These cases consumed my morning on Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th and I’m incredibly grateful for both Lisa and Declan’s brilliant knowledge and creativity. These were without doubt two of the most stressful cases I’ve ever come across, but also some of the best examples of reactive customer service I’ve ever seen at OMW. Thank you both so much.
Your line manager has provided the following feedback to support your nomination:
This nomination speaks for itself! Dec provides excellent support to those around the business – I know that this is his role but it is the way he goes about it & delivers. Dec has a varied skill set and this enables him to respond to a broad spectrum of queries. He looks at the bigger picture, has regulatory implications at the forefront of his mind and is always happy to help & support his colleagues whenever they need it! Dec has put in extra hours and taken a lot of the strain at a difficult time for the team and I am so grateful for this and the work he has picked up to ensure that we are able to support our colleagues and deliver against our customers’ expectations. Thank you Dec – you continue to be a shining star!!
In recognition of this achievement, you have been awarded 2 points which go towards your total points for the Oscars.
Following the Panel Review of nominations if you are a winner you will receive a further email prior to the end of the current month. All points awarded based on the Panel Review will go towards your total points for the Oscars.
Congratulations on your success!
Special Thanks And Recognition Scheme – Nomination
You have been nominated for Team Player by your colleague James Thomas.
Summary of nomination:
I want to say a massive thank you to Declan on a case I have been working on this week. The query was very complex (at least for me!) regarding the changes that have been made with regards to ISA dividends and the impact they have had for a specific client, so I sent a handoff for further information. Declan respond to promptly and with very clear information which I returned to the customer with. The customer however had further questions and need more specific information, which I asked Declan if he would be able to help me with. Not only did he take the time to speak with me over the phone to further my own understanding of a complex situation, he kindly proof read and added to an email I prepared and sent to the customer. I’ve had a very similar experience with Declan before, but am once again blwon away by his knowledge and helpfulness, thanks again!
Thank you for your hard work and well done for this achievement!
Special Thanks And Recognition Scheme – Nomination
You have been nominated for Team Player by your colleague Laura West.
Summary of nomination:
I wanted to say thank you to Dec for his help this morning in relation to a CGT query. CGT isnt something I know a great deal about but I was asked to help Sales with a query. Dec was more than happy to talk me through the situation and help me understand this particular scenario so I was able to provide this info back to Sales. Thanks Dec, really appreciate your help 🙂
Thank you for your hard work and well done for this achievement!
Special Thanks And Recognition Scheme – Nomination
You have been nominated for Team Player by your colleague Helen Bellamy.
Summary of nomination:
I sought Dec’s assistance on a complex case crossing a few different teams, needing an urgent solution before tax year end. He came prepared to the meeting of area reps (which I’d arranged at short notice due to the urgency), and was able to provide quick and clear guidance on each team’s required actions, which he kindly followed up with a bullet-pointed summary to share with all interested parties. I am so grateful that we have such fantastic Tech Support team to rely on in tricky situations such as this! Thank you Dec, you really are a star.
Thank you for your hard work and well done for this achievement!
Special Thanks And Recognition Scheme – Nomination
You have been nominated for Win together – help others succeed by your colleague Richard Inwood.
Summary of nomination:
A quick thanks to Dec for all his support over the last few weeks on a number of queries/issues I’ve been working on.
Everytime I’ve asked for help he’s been more than happy to sit through these with me to help me identify and understand the answer; dropping his current work volume to discuss the process through end to end which has been really useful for my development.
Thanks for the support Dec!
Thank you for your hard work and well done for this achievement!
I work in the Marketing team, in the photo below you can see their interactive post it notes to do list wall. I use it to keep track of tasks what I jobs I have accomplished. The sections on this wall covers off some of her day to day job roles including the website, Digital Wave, Awards, Social Media, Blogs, News, Case studies and Lead Generation.
When I was an apprentice we created a video to showcase what we got up to and how we found working in an agency, this video was created after just a few months of joining. This video is the most viewed video on Redweb YouTube channel with over 12,000 views https://youtu.be/M0NddJef0Qg
I work hard to build and maintain relationships with schools, do this partly off my own back as when I was in school I was only ever encouraged to go to university but after deliberating on my career path I chose to complete an apprenticeship. As an agency, we find it hard to hire staff with a real passion for digital so our ethos is to educate and inspire students on digital careers to open them up to all the different jobs out there in the digital world. I contacted my old school about offering some guidance to current students abo7ut my own path and how others can follow in similar steps, my interview can be found on this link: https://www.purbeck.dorset.sch.uk/sixth-form/ambitious-futures/
As I went to Bournemouth and Poole College to complete my apprenticeship I still have strong ties with them, they asked if they could interview me to show their prospect students and current students what they can achieve with hard work and dedication. My interview is here: https://youtu.be/EiG15DOQ2h4
I also attend quite a few career open days at schools, colleges and universities, normally I ask an apprentice or graduate developer to attend with me so we can cover all the different types of questions we might get asked. We talk to the students about different paths into the digital industry.
As an agency, we partner with Bournemouth School for Girls for a Digital day challenge, the aim for this today is to educate the student on the different technical jobs. During the day, they are set three challenges and as their agency partner we will to encourage the girls to think outside the box to solve these problems with digital solutions. Each year I arrange this day and ensure it runs smoothly, I also keep in contact with the school and students so they can ask me any arising questions throughout the year. See photos and the news article from the day.
I organise Digital wave, it’s a digital careers conference for young students, we have over 1000 students to hear stories and advice of some of the most acclaimed speakers in the digital industry. I have contacts with schools all over Dorset and even made connections with schools in the Isle of Wight to see if they can attend Digital Wave and they have registered for tickets. See below some photos, videos and news articles form Digital Wave.
2016 – https://youtu.be/V1fgEfi3Ahc
2017 – https://youtu.be/f66r74tM9XQ
As an agency, I submitted Redweb into the Dorset business awards, we won this for the work we do for Digital Wave and other community activities, I attended this with my Manager on behalf of Redweb as I organise Digital Wave and the community activities we do, see the news article below. https://www.redweb.com/agency/news/2016/community-efforts-awarded-at-the-dorset-business-awards
This year I also got named as a Digital Ambassador in the BIMA 100 alongside my manager for all the hard work I do for Redweb and supporting the Digital community. https://www.redweb.com/agency/news/2017/our-marketing-team-are-in-the-bima-100
At Redweb I organise fun events for the agency such as beach BBQ’s, parties, cake sales, charity awareness days.
I also organise events for prospect clients such as educational events
Below is a news article on the vents I have helped run for charities: https://www.redweb.com/agency/news/2016/reflecting-on-a-year-of-charitable-efforts
I also organised a local beach clean in the summer.
James Shanes is a 20 year old grasstrack, long track and speedway rider from Puddletown, Dorset.
In 2015, at just 18 years of age, James became the youngest ever winner of the 500cc British Grasstrack Championship. In the same year he also claimed the British Sand Racing Championship held at Vazon Bay, Guernsey. In addition he finished runner-up in his first ever European Grasstrack Championship final in Staphorst, Holland.
In 2016 James retained the 500cc British Grasstrack title with an unbeaten performance in the event staged by Bristol GRC, and went one better in the European Championship taking top step in the final, held on home ground at Swingfield in Kent. Another good performance in the FIM World Longrack Challenge meeting held in La Reole, France saw James qualify for the World Longtrack Grand Prix Series at the first attempt.
The 2017 season is already under way, and with two rounds of the World Long Track Grand Prix already ridden, James currently lies in 5th place (out of 15) and with one podium finish already to his name. Longtrack racing, although similar to grasstrack and speedway, takes place on tracks ranging from 800m to 1000m in length with top speeds in excess of 100 mph and therefore requires a different skill set to conventional racing.
While James is a vastly experienced grass track rider, having competed since the age of 6, he is a relative newcomer to speedway, having only been racing competitively on the shale for four seasons. However, in 2017 James took the big step up from National league racing (effectively Division 3) with Kent Kings to Premiership level (Division 1) as a member of the Poole Pirates team. He is holding his own at this higher level, and improving all the time.
James is passionate about his racing, and prepared to work hard to achieve his goals. His performances have improved year on year and with the right support it is quite possible he could go all the way to the top. In the Long track he is already on a par with many of the World’s top competitors and believe the best is yet to come.
3 Willoughby Close, Puddletown, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8SE
YouTube Video Clips:
The person who I wake up as every single morning is nothing like the person who left college in 2010. I’ve worked very hard to improve my confidence and self-worth over the years, and I’m finally at a stage where I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. It’s my personal goal in life to continue with my career as far as I can – and to manage others who have the same insecurities as I once had to be the best versions of themselves they can be.
After attending an all-girls Catholic school, I decided to stay on at the Sixth Form. It was a small and old fashioned Sixth Form College full of very high academic achievers. It soon became apparent that the general consensus of both the staff and the pupils was that University was an absolute necessity, and that college just wasn’t for someone without academic ability. Diversity, equality and openness were not things that were welcomed, and for me this meant that my personality was slowly being squashed.
After feeling like the black sheep of the college and with confidence in my ability and future at an all-time low, I tried to find a part time job to run alongside my studies as I felt like I needed something to fall back on. It was at this point in 2008 aged 16 that I got my first job at IKEA, stacking shelves. Because of the nature of the job and the fact that I was under 18, my hours had to be split to ensure that they were legal – I had to work 6am-8am every morning, and then go to college 8am-4pm. On weekends I worked 6am-10am. Aged 16, I was working and studying for 58 hours a week and I felt I had to do this because my college didn’t have faith that I would get anywhere otherwise.
I got a lift with a colleague who started work at 4am, and I have vivid memories of sitting in an empty canteen from 4am-6am each morning trying to study. Needless to say, this quickly made my health decline.
This, combined with personal issues and a complete lack of enjoyment of college meant that my attendance – and therefore my grades – were suffering. I left college in 2010 with D’s, E’s and U’s, and I was one of two people who didn’t move on to University.
I increased my hours at IKEA and moved up to the restaurant area, where I carried no responsibility and made no progression.
I applied for an entry level job at Old Mutual Wealth (which was Skandia at the time) in 2012, and my first day in the office was 10th December 2012. By July of the following year I had been made permanent and I was a fully trained employee, working in an office and earning a living without a degree – contrary to what my old teachers were telling me would be possible.
After a few years, I realised that this was a job that I was good at, and I had people looking up to me for help. There were huge Pension Legislation changes that took place in 2015, and organisational changes from that lead to being in a team of around 80 people. It was during this time that I started my succession towards becoming an Assistant Team Manager.
By October 2015 I had secured a promotion of becoming Assistant Team Manager within Pensions, after a previous attempt had been unsuccessful, and the work that I had been doing between my two attempts had allowed me to hit the ground running. Before long, I was covering for the team in my Manager’s absence and making business decisions that were crucial for our customers.
I had to have a second operation on my leg in October 2016, and when I returned from this I was nudged towards a Team Manager role that had become available. I applied for the role for the interview experience and to show my commitment, with the feelings of self-doubt I had from college creeping back in. To my amazement I was successful in the role and my start date was March 2017.
Now, I am proud to be a Team Manager with Old Mutual Wealth, aged 25 and with the company for 4.5 years. I progressed into being an Assistant Manager after 3 years of working in a busy office environment, and after a whirlwind period of proving my worth and progressing it’s taken me a year to become a Team Manager.
When I think back to when I essentially wasted my education, and the attitude I got from people telling me that I needed a degree to get somewhere in life, I feel a huge sense of pride and accomplishment about where I am today. I’m extremely grateful to Old Mutual Wealth for the opportunities they have given me, and I’m always looking forward to the next step in my career with them.
Below is a timeline of my appointments with Old Mutual Wealth.
I asked a few people from past and present to give their reaction on my nomination. These are below. Nick Wood was my Manager when I was a processor in Old Mutual Wealth, before the Pensions Legislation changes. As I’m now a Manager, I have become a member of his management group: “My first experience working with Molly was a few years ago when I became the manager of her team. At the time she was off with a broken leg, but a few weeks later, in came this cheeky, down to earth character and I have been working with her in some form ever since. Nothing would be the same again!
Molly has always been a hardworking and positive person and during her time as a processor her productivity was often exceptionally high. She would share her experience and knowledge with others and was a highly valued member of the team. It was clear that she would not be doing that role forever as she had so much to give the company in other ways.
So from there Molly went on to become an Assistant Team Manager and adapted to that promotion really well. She was focused and would always be in control of team planning and monitoring – ensuring targets were met and the people felt valued. She really does understand the importance of motivation and is very good at this.
Recently Molly was deservedly given another promotion to become a Team Manager and has taken to this huge step-up in responsibility really well. It can be a challenging role, however Molly’s drive and determination to succeed are already evident and she I have no doubt that she will become a top manager.
I enjoy working with Molly and her opinion is always definitely valued by the rest of her managerial colleagues. She brings an element of fun to the group and that is a good thing and has a positive effect on people. She is an important member of our team. Where Molly goes from here, who knows, but for now she is doing a great job and I look forward to working with her for a long time yet.”
Emma Jones became my Manager during the Pension Legislation changes, and therefore at the start of my management development. Again, I am now a member of her management group: “I’ve had the pleasure of previously managing Molly and more recently working alongside her as a respected colleague within our Management Team. Molly has always impressed me. She has bags of determination and ambition to be the best she can and has seized many opportunities to progress her career in OMW in a short space of time. Don’t get me wrong, she has received a couple of knock backs along the way, especially when she initially applied for the Assistant Team Manager role and was unsuccessful, however, this didn’t discourage her from achieving what she wanted, and if anything, made her more focused and committed in order to pursue her goals, progress her career and show her full potential. It’s been inspiring to watch Molly’s growth and it is amazing it only took her 9 months to become an Assistant Team Manager and then 12 months before becoming a Team Manager.”
Isobel Akien is a member of my team. I became her Manager in March this year: “Molly took over the management of the Pensions’ Transfer Chasing (PTC) team following a two month period with no full time TM. Right from the start, Molly worked hard to re-engage and re-motivate the team. She has worked tirelessly in order to try and get the team running in the most efficient and effective manner. She has helped integrate PTC with the rest of pensions, and help those throughout the business (Sales Support, Intrinsic, Customer Service Centre, etc.) understand the purpose of our team. She has worked to upskill her staff, get us involved with company initiatives, and increase our presence throughout pensions. She is the sort of person who does not only listen to your problems and empathise with them, but one who actively works to fix them. She is also realistic about what can be done, how it can be done, or how quickly it can be done.
She encourages her staff to take control of their own problems and to take ownership of implementing a solution, providing support where needed. I always know that Molly will be there when I need her.
I have worked elsewhere and under other managers, and at no point have I ever been managed by someone like Molly. In her short time as the manager of PTC, the changes she has brought have been immeasurable. From simple things, like making sure all team members send e-mails on behalf of the team inbox to make sure that their work can be picked up effectively in their absence, to the mammoth task of getting the PTC database overhauled in order to add a checking queue added so that we may have proper quality procedures in place, providing the best possible service to our customers. Simply put, she gets things done.
In summary, Molly is one of the most hardworking, dedicated, driven people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. She is enthusiastic about effecting positive change within our team and pensions as a whole. She is never afraid of a challenge and is always there to support those who need her. She is enthusiastic about effecting positive change within our team and pensions as a whole. I look forward to continuing working with Molly in the future, but have no doubt that she will soon rise to bigger and better challenges.”
Callum Earl is my Manager. He is the Head of Pension Client Services, looking after 9 teams and over 200 people: “Molly has progressed exceptionally well over the past couple of years since joining Old Mutual Wealth. She has a huge amount of potential and a real desire to learn and challenge herself. This is evident in her fast progression through the company to Team Manager level. Her application and focus is a real credit and she should be very proud of the steps she has made this far in her career and I am sure she is destined to continue to improve and progress in the years to come.”
Sally Rose used to be the head of Pensions before Callum took over. She is now in another part of the business and is the Head of Advisor Relations: “Molly has been a huge asset to the business since she joined. She started off working as an administrator and then has quickly moved her career through an ATM role and now a Team Leader role. Molly has a lovely way of dealing with people – she is relatable and fun, but also understands business needs and is always looking for ways to improve things. She has pushed herself hard to get her new role and is running a team that helps bring in money to the business as quickly as possible.
She has a great career ahead of her.”
A small portfolio of work can be seen here (if you go on my work section you can also see some descriptions of the scripts that I’ve written whilst I’ve been at uni): https://shannonreeve.wixsite.com/writing/blog
My LinkedIn also has a lot of information about my time at university and at LoveLove: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/shannon-reeve (there should also be some examples of blog posts and articles written by me on there)
I’ve attached some photos of myself on set at LoveLove’s Bike Week advert filming (which my sister, in the orange t-shirt, who has Down’s Syndrome also attended- she loved it!) as well as in the office with Georgina’s lovely dog Snowy! And also one from the Grad Show (the group in fancy clothing haha!), and from the Bournemouth Beach Clean that I did with some of the LoveLove Team.
Although I’ve had a very busy and sometimes tough year this year, what with if being my final year, I’m quite proud of what I’ve managed to achieve in this time. This year, as well as completing my work on my university course, including a feature film script for my major project, I’ve also co-run the Script Clinic, which provides free script advice or help to all of BU’s media school students, co-organised the Grad Show, which was a celebration of our year group which also allowed them to talk to the all important agents and alumni, and I’ve been very lucky to be working with LoveLove Films as a part-time staff member too! I’ve absolutely loved working with Georgie and the rest of the LoveLove Team as a production assistant and writer, and I think it’s given me really, really great experience for the real world. Georgie has been brilliant and supportive throughout the whole year I’ve known them. I’m considering doing an MA in Producing at BU, which Georgie is also incredibly supportive of, being a producer herself!
A few weeks before my A-level exams (2014) I had an accident which, in short, involved a tractor and my head. The resulting concussion meant that my short-term memory was severely affected, and I could not recall simple facts or perform mental arithmetic (something which I could do before, without thinking). Although I managed to pass my A-levels and get into university, I developed post-concussion syndrome (PCS); a condition which affects both long term and short-term memory, as well as the ability to focus, to stay awake, and many other normal day to day things. I made the decision to suspend my studies as I found myself barely being able to remember the day’s events, let alone study. As there is no set time frame for PCS recovery, I did not know whether I would be able to return to study at all.
Last year (2016) I made the decision to return to study for the 2016/17 year and have managed to do well in my first semester exams (see below). Although it’s taken a lot of hard work (having to do a lot of memory training, mental arithmetic etc), it’s been worth it. I hope to pursue a career in research (particularly Alzheimer’s) as I have a great passion for science and chemistry, and I want to be able to help people. Memories are the most important thing we own, and to lose some of mine just makes me want to help someone else keep theirs.
My name is Iain Christian and I have just completed my first year at Bournemouth University studying Finance and Economics. Throughout my first year I have thoroughly enjoyed many opportunities presented to me both through the university and on an individual basis.
I have always felt a passion to do good and help others through the organisation or participation of charitable events. When presented with the opportunity to act as Vice-Chair to the Volunteer Leadership Committee at Bournemouth University I jumped at the chance. Starting the role in early October, it has allowed me to not only be an active participant in events, but to also help brainstorm ideas, plan and promote activities, and further build the volunteering community.
My experiences at Bournemouth University have also led to meeting like-minded individuals such as Juan De Mata, my friend and business partner. Together we have founded Label Urban Clothing, a modern, trendy fashion brand that aims to promote Fair Fashion. Fair Fashion is a term founded by us, defined as clothing that is made and sold in an ethical and environmentally friendly way, with fair pay and healthy, safe working conditions for all workers. We would love to welcome you to our website at: www.labelurbanclothing.com
We have enjoyed early success with equity free seed funding from Santander, competitions in Bournemouth and London, and global support for our products and brand. We aim to continue growing our brand and spreading the demand for Fair Fashion.
I have also recently become President of the Investment Society at Bournemouth University. I, together with our brilliant committee, plan to increase recruitment and engagement, as well as communication channels regarding opportunities such as internships or placements for students. It is my fascination with financial investments and markets that drives me to discover and connect with others with a similar passion; and to build a community of like-minded students.
It is this passion that allowed me to enjoy a spring internship with J.P. Morgan in Bournemouth. The experience helped me understand the many roles undertaken by such a large company and the work life of an employee there. Despite the responsibility and challenging nature of the work, they manage to uphold a friendly, community-minded culture of collective success. I also enjoyed socialising with the other interns at events and nights out.
Despite my busy schedule and myriad of responsibilities, I still managed to achieve good grades, enjoy the notorious Bournemouth nightlife and take up a number of hobbies. My first year at Bournemouth was a wonderful experience filled with great entertainment, great opportunity, and great people!
Here are some pictures from volunteering and one from when we had just received our test order of products (I am the one in the middle of the first picture.
Why I love being a teacher
It was more the ethos and vision of the Teach First mission that attracted me to the profession than anything else. It was not the idea of imparting knowledge or of working with young people that particularly appealed to me so much as the idea of working within a national community to reduce the socio-economic inequalities that exist in our education system today. I have always been driven by justice and a strong moral compass and knew I wanted to feel that I was working towards something that mattered. It’s a cliché but I wanted to make a difference and knew that, with Teach First, I would be doing just that in the areas where a difference most desperately needs to be made.
Having worked within the profession for a year now, I can safely say that these are the things that keep me motivated, as I expected they would be. The sense of having an impact and the belief that I am helping students to achieve success or happiness (who, without me, might be a little less likely to achieve those things) are the reasons that I thrive on my work. In teaching, it is the small wins that keep you going; you have to be able to appreciate and take joy in the one child who says they understand now or who tells you they enjoyed your class. I do. I revel in those moments.
So where do I feel I am making the most difference? Well, I pride myself on my ability to motivate students through positive means rather than through fear of punishment and believe that most of my students now work to succeed because they want to feel a sense of satisfaction in their own results. Knowing that I have played a part in encouraging them to aspire towards those high results and watching them push themselves brings me endless pleasure. I have built strong relationships with many of my pupils and seeing that lots of them work hard to please me as well as themselves means such a lot. I see it as my role to inspire students and to provide them with a classroom in which they feel stimulated, respected and engaged and, when I achieve that goal, the classroom is simply a happy place to be, for myself and for the kids.
Miss Kingswell is an excellent teacher. She delivers outstanding lessons by making the grammar point easy to understand. Her lessons are engaging and fun. Students trusts her and she always build excellent relationship. She is always here to help (teaching and pastoral). She goes the extra miles in everything she does in her teacher’s life. Furthermore, she mentored me during my PGCE course. She gave me very good feedback to develop my teaching skills and to become myself a very good teacher. Miss Kingswell always took the time in her day to help me with my planning, marking or any other task I needed support with. She also support me personally as the course was very challenging. Miss Kingswell is always happy to help teachers in the department and in the school. She volunteers to write scheme of work. She is very positive at all time.
This year at the age of 24, as a newly qualified teacher I have been lucky enough to improve my teaching practice through the support of Lytchett Minster School. Throughout my year I have been developing my pedagogy and putting into practice new ideas to enthuse my students. Below are some of the pieces of evidence that I have collated throughout my year.
1. This year as part of my NQT observations I have reflected on feedback given to me by my mentor and coach and have received an ‘outstanding’ lesson observation. During this lesson, the pupils took part in a market place activity to review their learning over the year in preparation for the end of year test. At each of the 10 stations they had the information and then a choice of activities to complete. This ensured challenge for all and support of the least able. In small groups they were then able to support each other and share their understanding whilst I circulated the room to help solve any misconceptions and assess their progress. This helped students prepare and improve their confidence. At the end of the lesson we used the key words to create questions to play a game of splat where teams of students had to compete in order to apply the terms to the student generated questions.
2. With the new GCSE Geography a major case study is the emerging country of India as part of the topic ‘Development’. Teaching this to year 10 students in September I felt that many struggled with the concepts. As a result I asked my head of subject if I could create a year 9 scheme of work based and he agreed! Using the same concepts of rapid economic growth, the inequalities this causes and the impacts on people and the environment the scheme of work was made suitable for KS3. This involved creating diamond 9 activities, maps from memory, finish the picture, information hunts, and choropleth maps and become the expert style tasks. As a result, the current year 9 cohort have a background understanding to the issues linked to India and have enjoyed an in-depth study of a country.
3. As a new member of staff this year I have taught the new GCSE course. However, I have also led three Year 11 master classes to help them in preparation for their GCSE. This involved going through key case studies, terminology and exam question technique. This helped the year 11s focus before their GCSE exam. Speaking to the students afterwards many felt that this had helped because they remembered what had been discussed.
4. During a Year 9 topic on globalisation I decided to turn my classroom into a sweatshop to give my students and immersive experience of the poor conditions that workers face. In the previous lesson students had redesigned Coca-Cola bottles to show how the TNC used child labour and workers faced poor conditions through the lack of training to use machetes and working near poisonous snakes in El Salvador. Bringing their awareness to Rana Plaza they then had to work in teams to produce paper dresses to earn enough rupees to work their way into better conditions. This involved either choosing to work overtime to earn more or have a rest and the choice on how to spend their money. During the task groups were also handed chance cards which impacted on their work rate. For example, some groups had improved working conditions following Rana Plaza whilst others faced no investment and so their machinery would not get fixed (scissors were taken away). Students loved the involvement, team work and even they complained about some of the conditions the unfairness allowed them to realise the conditions in the sweatshop.
5. As a geography teacher one of the best parts of the job has been taking the students out into the field to demonstrate their learning. This year the year 8 and year 10 classes have undertaken coastal fieldwork at different locations along the South coast. Giving the students responsibility to collect data and learn fieldwork techniques has given them the opportunity to see the impact of wave processes outside of the classroom. Urban fieldwork locations have included Portsmouth and Boscombe as part of the GCSE and A Level course. For the Boscombe trip I created the work booklet to guide them on their data collection, however allowing students to contribute to the questionnaire design allowed them to get excited and involved in understanding the flaws of questions when it needs to be analysed. The trips have also allowed for a great relationship to be built between myself and the classes I teach. Being out of the classroom allows students and element of independence and the trust built has been brought back into the classroom through greater respect.
6. Whilst teaching map skills to year 7 we cover longitude and latitude. In order to allow students to fully understand the concept I made my classroom floor into a map using masking tape. After a round of longitude latitude karaoke which allowed the students cover the basics I decided to assess their understanding in an active way. Clearing the desks and chairs I used longitude and latitude coordinates to get students to move to stand in the write place. As soon as the students started to understand the theory, I allowed them to give the coordinates and eventually challenging them to places for them to give the coordinates. Students enjoyed this way of learning as they felt they had been playing a game whilst making rapid progress.
7. Starting my first year I knew making sure the classroom is a stimulating environment is important. As a result this year I have updated the classroom displays to include GCSE command words, a coastal fieldwork board to display the students findings and in the hallways a ‘speak like a geographer display’. Not trying to reinvent the wheel but using the ideas of other inspiring geography teachers to improve the way that student speak in Geography. This board captures many students attention as they walk by because of the use of emoji’s and pick up on the terminology hat they should use. This helps support student literacy additionally, in their written work.
8. The new GCSE course has a vast amount of content and therefore it has been important to make sure the lessons are memorable in order to ensure students make progress and remember their learning over the two years. In year 10 as part of the coasts topic I have given students play dough to create models of depositional landforms, origami fortune tellers for types of erosion and erosional landforms and then pop-up models to show coastal defences. Students enjoy making the items and then have shown through topic tests and even end of year mock exams they can recall these processes and defences.
9. In addition for the new Year 10 GCSE I have made a number of different resources to support and challenge students. This has included a revision workbook for the rivers topic and a series of step by step guides to help students answer the 12 mark questions, the longest in the exam. These have helped students check their understanding and demonstrate their learning with support outside of lesson time. The 12 mark questions are one the aspects my class have found the most challenging but now understand the format they need to use to answer the command word of ‘assess’ or ‘evaluate’.
10. One of the aspects when I first got my job was about becoming a tutor. This year I have been a tutor independently for the first time and being able to offer my support in their first year has been great. In the first year I have helped support them through the transition and from this received letters of praise from parents. In tutor time I have encouraged them through handing out the positive referral stickers which they receive from their classroom teachers, been down to the 3G pitch to watch them play inter-house football afterschool and with them created and led an assembly presented to the Wealden House. This has helped me become a well-rounded teacher supporting students pastorally as well as academically.
liz lean pr
under 50 employees
Liz Lean PR (LLPR) was founded 19 years ago by Liz Willingham (nee Lean), a graduate of the UK’s first BA (Hons) PR degree at Bournemouth University. Liz has always remembered her many opportunities to grow as a professional, offered by her own employers in the early stages of her career. Ensuring such opportunities are passed on is important to her. Undertaking her own work placement with Harrods Press Office in 1990/1991 she graduated in 1993 with a 2:1, subsequently joined the PR division of a Bournemouth-based full service agency and then became PR Manager for Poole Pottery. Liz started LLPR from her spare bedroom in 1998.
The agency now employees 14 staff (10 full-time, 4-part time or on maternity leave) plus one director and a number of freelance consultants. The youngest staff member is 17 years old.
Year on year, Liz Lean PR has experienced steady growth despite the recession and this financial year (2016/2017) is no exception. The agency is in the enviable position of not having to pro-actively search for new business at present, as many new clients come to LLPR on reputation and word of mouth recommendation alone.
LLPR has built this privileged reputation and team over the past 19 years based on excellence in media relations, event management, stakeholder engagement and crisis communications.
Since 2015, the agency has been embracing the market shift into integrated communications and social media. This has involved the recruitment of marketing and content specialists, with expertise in social media.
Nurturing young people to develop into confident employees and business people
• LLPR works hard to retain its dedicated team and understands that the creative industries rely on younger minds to remain cutting edge and current. The agency therefore runs in-house training programmes for new starters as well as arranging for their attendance at specific events to reach and inspire our younger talent including CIPR events and leading industry courses which are largely London-based
• LLPR runs an appraisal system whereby new staff are assigned learning objectives and in a six-monthly assessment the objectives are reviewed and recorded under the appraisal scheme to encourage professional development
• Each appraisal programme is tailored uniquely to the staff member; for example, marketing specialist Cat Abbott has in the past year completed a marketing qualification from a business MBA course. Her growth and development as a professional has been significant since this was completed
• We have recently employed a 17-year old PR and Marketing Assistant from St Edward’s School on a part-time basis to help them gain valuable skills required when working in the sector. They are closely mentored and have a training programme to follow to ensure they gain experience on areas such as ‘how to write a press release’, and ‘how to manage an event’
• LLPR aims to hire talent and to develop and promote them through the ranks. For example, Shona Race joined LLPR as a 21-year old Journalism BA Hons graduate straight from Winchester University. She wanted to gain an understanding of PR without going into a full-time PR role, so she was recruited as Office Manager and PA to the managing director which gave her a great insight to the business and gained an overview of the broad client base. She was gradually given writing and PR tasks, supporting on increasingly higher level activities across the company. She successfully learned the ropes and was promoted to PR Account Executive fifteen months later, she was then in this role for under a year before being promoted again to PR account manager and is now managing her own accounts highly competently
• In 2015, LLPR employed a placement student from Bournemouth University for one year, again to assist them in their studies and degree, and help to prepare them for work in the industry
• Liz Willingham completes a number of pro-bono speaking opportunities with local schools, colleges, Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University, of which she is an alumnus. Recently, as part of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Young Chamber, Liz gave a presentation to their Year 11’s to inspire students to get involved with the creative industries and gave information on why public relations and marketing is a great option for generation Z (image of Liz Willingham taking a selfie with the Year 11 students is attached to the email for this award application)
• At least every quarter we host a work experience placement, usually for a fortnight per person to give them a valuable insight into the world of PR and marketing. These programmes are carefully thought out to ensure the student’s time is utilised as much as possible. We carry out pre-placement interviews and only take on students who we know we can help to achieve their working objectives, such as how to plan an event or how to manage social media. We actively encourage input from younger interns to help brainstorm ideas for engaging a younger crowd, particularly with social media. We often ask them to carry out a ‘social media audit’ of both LLPR social channels and also clients’ social channels as it is interesting to see how they react to the content and what they think could be improved. After every placement is completed, we ask the student to write a blog about their experiences. We find this is very well received with our social and website followers and it encourages more people to request placements. An example can be found here: http://lizleanpr.co.uk/blog/lukes-time-liz-lean-pr/
• The LLPR team ensures each member regularly attends creative networking events in the area to ensure they are building meaningful relationships with other businesses and young people in the creative industries – for example attending Open Source, Silicon Beach and Meetdraw etc. These are great events to keep abreast of what’s going on in tech and to stay in touch with younger talent. We also ensure that we attend university events which aim to encourage and inspire students into the PR industry. For example each year we attend Southampton Solent University’s ‘Meet the Professionals’ event whereby we chat to 100+ PR/marketing students and give them advice on how they can enter the industry. We find attending this invaluable and have recruited many work experience placements via meeting enthusiastic students at this event
• LLPR produces a ‘Social Flash’ once a week whereby we review and round up new social trends so we can keep up to date with younger platforms like Snapchat so we are aware of all the latest tools for our clients, these are also posted on our website and rolled out through our social channels. http://lizleanpr.co.uk/blog/social-flash-instagram-likes-vending-machine-social-media-news-readers-jaws/
• Liz Willingham is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and as an agency we regularly participate in learning webinars which all staff can attend
• A CIPR certified trainer also visits LLPR on at least a quarterly basis to teach staff industry standard sessions such as “Communications strategy and campaigns by objectives,” and “How to evaluate PR avoiding AVE” etc.
UNDER 50 EMPLOYEES
UNDER 50 EMPLOYEES
At Inspire we recently introduced a new Interview process into the business to ensure the staff we employ are not just technically able but are also the right fit for our company and that we are the right fit for them, this helps to ensure all potential employees have the core inspire values of Essence, Spirit and Beliefs. Inspire offers one of the best training packages to its staff, the packages vary according to the needs of the individual. This includes a mixture of studying on and off site. Our approach to training is to work with all members of the team on an individual basis so that we can understand what direction they wish to go in and what they want to achieve. We can then help them determine what technical and soft skill training is right for them to help them reach their goals and help them to make the greatest contribution to the Inspire team and our clients. At Inspire we like to think that doors are always opening for our team members and opportunities are always there for them to pursue. We actively promote career progression, we have designed individual career plans for members of staff, which are being rolled out to the wider team. We have good examples of where people have progressed through the company. We carry out an annual appraisal system for all staff which helps with their career and development. In this way we know that we can inspire, develop and retain the strongest most skillful and committed group of people at Inspire and that they, in turn, can then deliver the best possible service to our clients. We have also introduced an internal Business Academy for all staff, this was developed exclusively for our team members, the Inspire Business Academy offers all our staff the opportunity to enroll in a bespoke programme across the year. The sessions combine real-life case studies, soft skills training and business practices to create a holistic, multifaceted training programme designed to strengthen our team’s expertise, develop Inspire’s entrepreneur-centric services and, ultimately, raise commercial awareness and understanding in the Inspire team so that they develop empathy towards our clients.
OVER 50 EMPLOYEES
At TestLink Services we have deliberately set ourselves apart from other local companies in the level of dedication we show to hiring, training and promoting young talent. We take a unique approach to recruitment, creating and embracing innovative opportunities to develop our employees into young business leaders of the future. As a long-standing, successful business we believe it is our moral responsibility to support and shape engineers, managers and business professionals of the future to help in turn secure the future of our industry. We also recognise that it makes perfect business sense to grow our own talent from within. Consequently, we benefit from hard-working and loyal employees whose average length of service is 7 years (usually having joined us from a young age). Evidence of how we grow and develop our young talent includes; – Implementing a pioneering Apprenticeships Scheme which currently sees 30 TestLink employees enrolled in programmes such as engineering, IT and Business Administration. This number is set to rise through our future recruitment plans. – Offering our Apprentices a permanent job from day one and guaranteeing a salary that is £2 an hour above the minimum wage. It is these unique aspects of our offering that carve TestLink Services out as a key Apprenticeships employer. – Delivering in-house management and team leader programmes to retain young talent and nurture influential key players. – Applying a GCSE Maths and English ‘non-essential’ approach to recruitment. This is in recognition of the fact that a student’s performance on the day of an exam may not be indicative of their true capabilities. – Placing emphasis on performance in a 3 – 5 day work experience ‘trial’ rather than academic qualifications. This is not only a better indication of a candidate’s suitability for a job role but also gives them the chance to ascertain whether TestLink Services are the right employer for them. – Never dismissing candidates for lack of experience during the recruitment process when there is clear potential that their raw talent can be shaped to learn new expertise. – Being mentioned in parliament by MP Michael Tomlinson during an apprenticeships funding debate. Michael highlighted the work of TestLink as a good example of local businesses who support apprentices. – Finding ourselves the subject of marketing material produced by our training partners. Our work supporting young people throughout their career has been held up as a successful case study. – Empowering our HR Manager Laura to continue her inspirational work as a CIPD Enterprise Advisor. She continuously makes the company proud in the work that she does coaching and providing CV guidance for young people at local schools. – Creating bespoke programmes for young individuals with additional requirements such as confidence training and extra learning support. – Honouring our Disability Confident employer commitments by helping the career progression of young people with autism and learning disabilities. – Championing local initiatives such as the Young Chamber Programme with key partners, the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We are currently in the process of re-designing our Apprenticeships progression plans so I won’t send anything over in this respect as we’re looking to improve it even further from September. The programme will include regular lunch trips, one to one coaching sessions, entry into staff awards and competitions etc.