Eckoh May 2017 smallLocal company Eckoh, based in Hemel Hempstead, sent 14 keen volunteers to Sunnyside Rural Trust on Friday 12th May on a team building day organised by Connect Dacorum.

Sunnyside Rural Trust is a charity based in Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead and offer training and work skills for young people and adults with learning disabilities. They also run Hemel Food Garden, which is located behind the K2 restaurant near B&Q with a great shop and café. Gemma Vine from Sunnyside Rural Trust was delighted with the group from Eckoh. “The team worked hard all day and helped us with some much needed jobs. They had great fun while making a difference.”

Some of the Eckoh team cleaned out chickens, some cleared around the pond to help the local wildlife and some made up hanging baskets which will be displayed along Kings Langley High Street over the summer. All of them made a positive impact on the charity and came away from the day with a real sense of achievement and able to see the fruits of their labour.

Eckoh is the UK’s leading provider of Multi-Channel customer service and secure payment solutions. Caroline Taylor from Eckoh said “We thoroughly enjoyed supporting our local community and working with Sunnyside Rural Trust. Running volunteering days for the company and working with our local community is so important for our employee wellbeing and morale. The team of employees enjoyed contributing to the project and working together in such a positive and rewarding way. Thank you to Connect Dacorum for organising the volunteering event.”

If you would like your company to run volunteering opportunities and don’t know where to start, contact Cindy Withey at Connect Dacorum on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

Longdean 4 smallLocal businesses teach pupils how to land a job

Two Hundred Year 10 pupils from Longdean School took part in an Employability Skills event on Thursday 4th May organised and run by Connect Dacorum. The pupils were in groups of around 8, and each group had a facilitator or two from local businesses who had given up their morning to help the children with CV writing and interview skills.

                              

This year the event took place in their new school building and all students were in the hall which instantly created a buzz. The event was interactive for the pupils – interviewing their facilitators before moving on to looking in more detail at their own CVs and giving advice. The second half concentrated on interview skills with mock interviews and also a fun “speed interviewing” game. The pupils came away with lot of helpful feedback and advice directly from employers about what they look for in a CV, covering letter and throughout the interview process.

Cindy Withey, Manager of Connect Dacorum praised the pupils and facilitators for a great day “Longdean School will be very proud of their Year 10’s who were well behaved and engaged in the session. It’s a pleasure for Connect Dacorum to organise these events as it benefits the pupils but is also very rewarding for our facilitators to help shape the future workforce”.

The pupils also completed a feedback sheet at the end of the day with most of them of them saying that it was really helpful. One wrote “I have found about interviews and a variety of skills needed”. Another said “I will apply the communication skills that I have developed.”

Longdean School said “This activity gives our students an amazing opportunity to learn future skills needed in the workplace. It gives them the chance to spend 2 hours with a local employer in a small group situation where they are able to ask questions and find out information that is important to them.”

The facilitators came from a wide variety of backgrounds and businesses (full list see below), all willing to give up their time to help shape the future generation and pass on valuable advice.

“Really enjoyable day spent with the students at Longdean School – very bright futures ahead.” Said Olivia Tunnell from UK Power Reserve. Jeanette Squire from Squires Estates was equally positive about the event “I have just spent a positive morning teaching CV and interview skills to pupils at Longdean School, an experience I found to be very rewarding as they felt and appeared a lot more confident at the end of the sessions.” And Carolina Karlstrom from Jade Advisory said “I really enjoyed working with the students and knowing I was doing something useful to support them in their career development. They were polite and stayed engaged for the whole two hours – well done kids!”

If there are any businesses who would like their staff to be involved and become a facilitator for these events later in the year at Hemel Hempstead School in July please contact Cindy Withey at Connect Dacorum on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Facilitators:

Leah Waller – Lennons Solicitors

Karen Gosen – Gaddesden Place RDA

Gordon Dickens – Tutor Doctor

Ash Vekaria – Lumina Technologies

Mark Young – IT Consultant

Jacinta Hurt – EcoService (UK) Ltd

Jeanette Squire – Squire Estates Agents

Carolina Karlstrom – Jade Advisory

Olivia Tunnell – UK Power Reserve

Sonia Zahid – UK Power Reserve

Richard Doran – Barclays Bank

Bev Hamilton – Woodfield School

Hannah Bailey – Osborne

Gemma Smith - Osborne

Jean Dove – retired NHS Human Resource Manager

Sarah Clark – Druglink

Danny Powlsland – retired engineer

Cav 5 smallLocal businesses teach pupils how to land a job

One Hundred and forty Year 10 pupils from Cavendish School took part in an Employability Skills event on Tuesday 28th March organised and run by Connect Dacorum.  The pupils were in groups of around 8, and each group had a facilitator or two from local businesses who had given up their morning to help the children with CV writing and interview skills.

All students were in the hall which instantly created a buzz. The event was interactive for the pupils – interviewing their facilitators before moving on to looking in more detail at their own CVs and giving advice.  The second half concentrated on interview skills with mock interviews and also a fun “speed interviewing” game. The pupils came away with lot of helpful feedback and advice directly from employers about what they look for in a CV, covering letter and throughout the interview process.

Cindy Withey, Manager of Connect Dacorum praised the pupils and facilitators for a great day “Cavendish School will be very proud of their Year 10’s who were well behaved and engaged in the session.  It’s a pleasure for Connect Dacorum to organise these events as it benefits the pupils but is also very rewarding for our facilitators to help shape the future workforce”.

The pupils also completed a feedback sheet at the end of the day with most of them of them saying that it was really helpful.  One wrote “I have found out that interviewers aren’t trying to catch you out and that first impressions are key”.  Another said “I will make sure that when I go for interviews I will make eye contact, dress smart and overcome my anxiousness”.

Cavendish School said that “What a valuable session for the students. Their level of engagement and feedback responses show how much they enjoyed it. The facilitators made CVs and interview skills very relevant to Year 10 students, despite the world of work being quite a long way off for most of them.”

The facilitators came from a wide variety of backgrounds and businesses (full list see below), all willing to give up their time to help shape the future generation and pass on valuable advice. 

“The employability day held at The Cavendish School was thoroughly enjoyable. The students really took part in the activities and discussions we had about CVs, interview skills and applications.  It is great to see the support that is given to young people today by Connect Dacorum to help them prepare for the world when they complete their education.”  Katarina Brazell, Solicitor at Lennons Solicitors.

“I really enjoyed taking part in the Employability Day, it was a real pleasure working with the students who were polite, positive and enthusiastic throughout.  It was great to help them start thinking about their future and how to approach the big decisions ahead of them.”  Philippa Shaw, Dacorum Borough Council.

If there are any businesses who would like their staff to be involved and become a facilitator for these events later in the year at Longdean School in May and Hemel Hempstead School in July please contact Cindy Withey at Connect Dacorum on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Facilitators:

Katrina Brazell – Lennons Solicitors

Caroline Taylor – Eckoh

Joanne Truscott – Eckoh

Jenny Cole – Eckoh

Karen Gosen – Gaddesden Place RDA

Gordon Dickens – Tutor Doctor

Peggy Barnard – Barnard & Co Employment Law Solutions

Cathy Hoggett – JSR Talent

Ash Vekaria – Lumina Technologies

Clare Bentall – Clare Bentall Career Coaching

Kimberley Woodcock – Spirit of the Old Town

Mark Young – IT Consultant

Ellie Jenkins – BAM Construct

Philippa Shaw – Dacorum Borough Council

Marion Hurley – ex Dixons

Jacinta Hurt – EcoService (UK) Ltd

Jeanette Squires – Squires Estates Agents

ENDS.

About Connect Dacorum

Connect Dacorum is a partnership between the business, public and voluntary sectors that actively participates in creating a better quality of life for all in the Dacorum and surrounding area.

We provide information and expertise on community involvement opportunities for organisations of all sizes and support our members in the delivery of their Corporate Social Responsibility objectives.

We are a project of Community Action Dacorum

Contact:  Cindy Withey

Tel:  01442 228216

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dragons ApprenticeDacorum students raise over £10,000 for local charities in Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge

Winners of 2016/17 Challenge announced after budding entrepreneurs pitch to SuperDragons at Shendish Manor finals

27th March 2017 – Think Tank team from JFK School has been proclaimed the overall winner of the 5th annual Dacorum Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge which is organised by Connect Dacorum. The team was one of eight who completed the challenge and invited to present to the SuperDragons - leaders from the world of business, education, local government and charity - at this week’s Challenge Finals at Shendish Manor Hotel.

All teams from Dacorum secondary schools were supplied with £100 stake and challenged to turn it into £1,000 or more, with support and advice from mentors within the borough’s business community. 

The teenage tycoons in waiting stepped up to tackle a charity challenge and were showered with praise on Monday night.  The SuperDragons were impressed with their all round business abilities as well as the confident way in which they presented themselves, always representing their charity.

Cllr Bob Mclean, Mayor of Dacorum, presented the awards and inspired the audience of young people, businesses and charities by emphasising the practical value of the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge. Presentations at the finals night at Shendish Manor revealed the wealth of business lessons learned by the pupils as they staged everything from cake sales and quiz nights to offering friendship photos to hit their daunting targets.

Named as overall winners on the night were the team from JFK  School, who scooped a Snow Centre session for their efforts in support of Druglink charity.  Their Dragon was Peggy Barnard from Barnard & Co Employment Law Solutions. Peggy said “I am delighted of the hard work that Think Tank has done over the past six months and the teamworking skills that they have now developed.”

Other winners were:

Community Action Adeyfield  for Most Money Earned, prize of Tea and Cakes from Shendish Manor Hotel

Longdean Dragons  for Most Innovative Business Idea, prize of a meal from Nandos Restaurant in Jarman Park

Wisdom Waters from JFK for Close Co-operation with your Charity, prize of a game of footgolf at Little Hay Golf Club

Kings Langley Warriors for Best Display, prize of a voucher towards a meal from McDonalds Apsley

Team Sigma from JFK  for Best Presentation, prize of a Costa voucher

As they celebrated their successes all the teenagers agreed that the Dacorum Dragons Apprentice Challenge – now in its fifth year – was both a lot more work than they had ever realised but a test that both developed their skills and gave them a chance to get involved in their community.

Schools who completed the 2016/17 Dacorum Challenge include: Adeyfield, Cavendish, Hemel Hempstead, JFK, Kings Langley and Longdean.

The teams are supported by Dragons from local businesses including: Riverside Shopping Centre, BAM Construct, Osborne, Ecoservice UK Ltd, Churchill Retirement Living, RES, Barnard & Co Employment Law, Affinity for Business and Witts Moloney Solicitors.

Charities/Community Groups to benefit include:  Community Action Dacorum, Rennie Grove Hospice, RNIB, Druglink, Gaddesden Riding for the Disabled, Waterways Experiences, Signpost and The Snow Sports Foundation.

 

The Challenge is organised by Connect Dacorum and runs annually from September – April. Any schools, businesses or charities across Dacorum that are interested in taking part in Dragons’ Apprentice 2017/18 should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

                                                                                                                                             

Notes for Editors

Originally conceived in St Albans, the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge offers Year 12 students the opportunity to experience setting up and running a business, gaining organisational and job related skills and learning about the work and beneficiaries of their designated charity.

The Challenge is being run simultaneously across Hertfordshire with a total of 53 teams in

Broxbourne & East Herts

Dacorum

Hertsmere

North Herts

St Albans

Welwyn & Hatfield

The SuperDragons for the 2016/17 Challenge were:

Dave Gaze, from the Dragons Apprentice Challenge St Albans

Lesley Crisp, Assistant Team Leader in Strategic Planning and Regeneration from Dacorum Borough Council

Claire Dutton, Business Teacher at West Herts College