Guest blog: VAT’s the world coming to ….
"Bev makes a valuable contribution and professional approach to all the work she has been involved with, with me."
Black Self Development Project. Empower was involved in supporting London Action Trust in the project initiation and Development of the Black Self Development Project. Coming out of the findings of the McPherson Report into institutionalised racism in the Metropolitan Police and other statutory agencies this project aimed to target young black offenders in twelve London Boroughs. The programme written by Black Academic Trevor Sinclair Empower’s role was to engage the twelve Youth Offending Teams in the programme; recruit a team of staff to implement the project and identify key partners for the project including the Black Londoners Forum; Black Business Forum and the Home Office.
"Very efficient...Bev it was a pleasure working with you."
Empower undertook an interim evaluation of the Newlife Project which provided a brokerage scheme between employers and offenders, managing the disclosure of criminal offences and providing support and advice to employers who were willing to employ ex-offenders.
"Thank you for your continued commitment through a very difficult period; I have really appreciated it."
Empower covered the partnership post within Northamptonshire CVS on a interim management basis. The role included re-launching Compact and embedding across all sectors; development of a volunteering code and the BME Code. The post also delivered a partnership project funded by SRB which engaged with Northamptonshire Council.
"Communication was excellent and the service was flexible and adaptable to our needs..excellent work on publicity."
Project initiation and development of the Prepare for Employment project on behalf of London Probation Service which was a vocational training programme for those currently within the Criminal Justice System. It involved substantial partnership working with probation teams across London and creation of monitoring systems to measure targets.
"Bev used her own initiative to raise with relevant partners on our behalf...very thorough and detailed."
Empower took the lead on the development of a Widening Participation Strategy for London Borough of Hounslow Adult and Community Education Service and presented the strategy to the whole team.
"Have been clear with communications, good use of email."
From Offending to Employment (FOTE) was a Single Regeneration Budget Programme based in London which worked with young offenders to try to move them from offending behaviour to permanent and stable employment. FOTE worked with key partners including West ham Football Club; Leyton Orient Football Club and the Open College Network to provide accredited training opportunities. Empower managed this programme on an interim management basis and then led on the development of a forward/ exit strategy for scheme when funding came to an end.
"Not an easy role when we are in a process of change and in the service...would use Bev Garside again!"
Empower conducted an impact assessment of the whole of the Adult and Community Service which looked at recruitment; retention and completion rates among all students focussing on young learners; older learners; learners with disabilities and learners from Black and Minority Ethnic Groups. We examined the marketing material; registration process; access to facilities and their on-going ability to meet the needs of participants in order for them to access and achieve within the Adult and Community Education Service. The statistical data was presented in a report to key adult education staff with recommendations for improvements.
"I don’t know what we’d have done without Bev...Excellent, responsive service that is highly professional. Excellent at all times...officers from other organisations have commented to me how good Bev Garside is and how quick she is to grasp complicated project details, nuances and funding streams.
Empower worked with us to close down a difficult Single Regeneration Budget programme after the original programme manager died.
The organisation grasped the issues related to working on such a scheme in a rural area, they developed good working relationships with the community and devised suitable processes and monitoring frameworks which satisfied all the funders. They were able to support community organisations through the process and also provided the secretariat to the grant appraisal panels to ensure that all processes were transparent and open.
Empower managed the funds well and were able to make sense of some really awkward financial claims and processes that had to be improved after the death of the previous manager.
Empower have also since delivered a range of other services to us eg team building events etc. I would definitely use Empower again and can recommend them as an organised and caring organisation that believe in delivering schemes that benefit and empower the community. "
Suzanne Fysh: Regeneration Services Manager
Empower has undertaken a number of contracts on behalf of West Lindsey District Council, the first being Interim Management of the Rural Tourism Development Area Partnership ( a Single Regeneration Budget funded Programme) This work included negotiating with Tesco Plc in the implementation of a Rural Transport Hub as part of the Section 106 funding. Empower conducted a mini Master plan exercise of the market towns of Caistor and Market Rasen and have managed the annual business survey for several years for West Lindsey.
"You have consistently worked above and beyond the agreed contract of work...I would like to thank Bev for all her help and support she has been a fantastic asset and without her DCEN would not have survived."
"Even when working to deadlines – like yesterday!"
"The service received has been wonderful Bev has helped us to achieve more than we thought possible...Bev has worked closely with the executive and we have developed priorities together...always very professional."
"Bev provided services above and beyond the call of duty! She remained positive in the face of disappointing failures on behalf of the original client.
Michael Hurlow - County Durham Foundation
Empower was brought in by Government office North East to support this new structure funded through neighbourhood renewal funding. We worked with the members of the network to ensure that the organisation was transparent and accountable. We helped develop an effective partnership working model in order for the CEN to participate with the Local Strategic Partnership and develop strategy and funding streams which would support local 3rd Sector organisations.
"First class for clarity, analysis and practical recommendations'' "Keep up the high standards. "
Empower undertook a business survey on behalf of the Upper Amman Valley Communities First contacting around 300 local businesses to establish their needs in terms of skills qualifications and experience. The survey provided the partnership with guidance on the types of training and a support local residents needed in order for them to compete effectively for local jobs.
"Training excellent, tailored to meet individual needs, and delivered in a manner that is completely inclusive.
Empower provided a range of training events for Higher Shotton including residential events with the Partnership Board. We also undertook a business survey of local businesses; establishing the skills gaps and which businesses would be willing to employ long term unemployed people and those with caring responsibilities. The conclusion was an in depth report which provided Higher Shotton Communities First Partnership with authentic current data about what skills and experience local businesses required. As a result of this piece of work Higher Shotton made links with a local business forum and a substantial number of local businesses.
"Bev and her staff have engaged with me continually throughout this process, keeping me updated constantly and yet have not drawn up on my time especially. Very helpful due to current capacity. Bev has gone through 2 revisions of her contract with us – without complaint and the style of info provided throughout I don’t think could have been bettered."
Empower was brought in by Northamptonshire County Council to ensure the local Authority was fully compliant in readiness for its Comprehensive Performance Assessment ( focussing on its commitment to communities) This involved providing Compact briefings to front line staff and managers ensuring all were clear about the commitments the local authority had made to the Joint Agencies Agreement with the 3rd Sector. Empower created a series of e briefings to provide key information in bite sized people for all staff and developed a Compact Handbook which was created in hardcopy and uploaded onto the Council’s website.
"Bev works really hard and provides real value for money. Residents in Dollis Valley genuinely like and admire Bev. Bev has provided a positive people centred approach which has developed both capacity and enthusiasm amongst Dollis Valley residents. That lift in community activity is invaluable to us in our work."
"This has been excellent. Bev has given additional time to ensure things are followed through. Provision of a design and printing service has been a real asset....Bev’s approach has generated positive feedback from residents and officers. This has been a real boost for Dollis Valley."
Empower was brought in to work with a community to develop an open and accountable residents group with whom London Borough of Barnet could consult on the stock transfer from Barnet Homes to Warden Housing Association. Tenant Participation Officers had worked with the existing tenants group but had struggled to develop the group into one representative of the whole community. Empower engaged all residents and helped develop a network of tenant and resident members supported by key stakeholders including the Police; Youth Service; Barnet College; London Borough of Barnet and a variety of voluntary and community groups. The Dollis Valley Community network was formed which reflected the community and had the mandate to consult on behalf of the residents.
"We valued your practical and business-like approach and preferred your package to a commission on consultancy day rate. An external critical appraisal of where we are now will together with new KCC process enable us to move forward with this.
Empower conducted an Impact Assessment on behalf of Kent Adult County Council Adult and Community Education Service. This impact assessment focussed on the recruitment; retention and achievement levels among various groups of learners including older learners; learners with a disability; Learners from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. The report included a review of all equalities policies and procedures and the effectiveness of their implementation. Empower reviewed the organisations marketing material to ensure its content and message and finally we benchmarked the demographics of the learners against the demographic data we had for the community to establish whether the organisation was meeting the needs of its whole community.
"[I] think that the current service is excellent and cannot think of any necessary improvements...excellent service, very efficient....keep up the good work."
Empower has conducted two feasibility studies and business plans on behalf of Porthyfelin Communities First Partnership in connection with potential social enterprise projects in Anglesey. We have also provided bespoke training for this partnership and have always been impressed with the breadth of Vision this organisation has.
"Bev Garside hit the ground running, very supportive, excellent service. Have full confidence."
Adult Education Project managed and delivered an ESF Funded programme to deliver accredited training in Learning Support for non-traditional students Level 1 and 2.