Woodturning 1The Repair Shed is a Community Action Dacorum project. Hosted by Sunnyside Rural Trust at their Hemel Food Garden site in central Hemel Hempstead, it brings men aged 50+ together to stay healthier and happier for longer through making, mending and learning.

Having seen Project Manager Chris Lee’s presentation on The Repair Shed at the Connect Dacorum lunchtime meeting back in February, Martin Gomme of Hemel Cartridges decided to donate to the scheme a woodturning lathe that he no longer uses: the lathe needs some ‘tlc’ having not been used for several years and it would offer the chance for Repair Shed members to learn new skills and to make items to sell in support of the project – all three ‘mending’, ‘learning’ and ‘making’ boxes ticked!

As well as being a keen woodturner himself, Martin is also the Chairman of Herts & Beds Woodturners and he put together and presented an introductory woodturning course spread over three sessions covering personal safety, the use of tools and basic spindle and bowl turning. The club provided lathes, tools and perhaps most importantly, one-to-one supervision by experienced club members. The seven learners on the course attended all the sessions and they all went away with a piece of turning they made themselves – including a bud vase, a Japanese doll and garden dibbers.  

Thanks to members of Herts & Beds Woodturners, Sarah Luke from Herts County Council’s Creative Learning team and Emma Matthars at Hemel Food Garden for their help in making this a successful course.

HH5 smallOne Hundred and Eighty Year 10 pupils from Hemel Hempstead School took part in an Employability Skills event on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th June organised and run by Connect Dacorum.  The pupils were in groups of around 8, and each group had a facilitator 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, putting themselves in the mind of an employer looking at CVs for a new trainee graphic designer and critiquing them before moving on to looking in more detail at their own CVs and giving advice.  The second session 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 “this is the first time Connect Dacorum has organised this at Hemel Hempstead School having previously run it for the past couple of years at Longdean School and it is great to see how much both the pupils and facilitators get out of the experience”.

The pupils also completed a feedback sheet at the end of the day with all of them of them saying that it was really helpful.  One wrote “I have learnt how to speak and present myself during an interview or phone call and how to make a good CV”.  Another said “Interviews are hard and scary but I will apply what I have learnt to gain confidence”.

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. 

Richard McBarnet, Managing Director at Lumina Technologies said “I had the privilege of working with two groups [of children] over the two days and gaining a valuable insight into their aspirations and perceptions of the modern employment marketplace. It has been a genuine pleasure to be able to share what we, as employers, are looking for in school leavers and to be a part of giving them an increased chance of achieving their goals. Too often school leavers approach the job market woefully ill equipped to meet the expectations of prospective employers and it has always frustrated me when interviewing candidates how much better they could have performed if someone had just given them a  few simple do’s and don’ts.”

And Eli Tweed from the Community Partnerships team at Dacorum Borough Council also took part in the day. “It was a real pleasure to take part in the Employability days at Hemel Hempstead School. The students were very bright, engaged and switched on. They really improved their CV’s during the session, practiced interview techniques and identified their future goals.”

Ruth George, Ruth George HR Consulting – “What a well-behaved group of young people we all met yesterday.  Immaculately turned out (despite the heat!) polite and courteous and all engaging with the process and moving around the school in a respectful and professional way.  They are a credit to the school and their families.”

Jag Hir, Managing Director at Provident Wealth - “A wonderful opportunity to help guide the next generation of employees.”

Gordon Dickins, Tutor Doctor - “A real sense of engagement with the purpose of our workshop emerged from the two groups of young people that I had the pleasure of working with over the past couple of days. Open eyes and minds and a better understanding of how to approach their futures appeared to be the outcome, and 100% participation made for lively and I believe enjoyable sessions for all concerned!”

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

Facilitators:

Alistair Budd – retired HR director

Amanda Winder – Strive Development

Bob Harbour – Governor at Hemel Hempstead School

Charlie Matthewson – Warner Bros Studios

Eli Tweed – Dacorum Borough Council

Gavin O’Donovan – Machins Solicitors

George Williams – Machins Solicitors

Gordon Dickens – The Tutor Doctor

Jag Hir – Provident Wealth

Julie Hopping – Careers Coach

Luca Ramusino – BAM Construct

Karen Gosen – Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled

Patrick Burke – Aid4Disabled

Richard McBarnet – Lumina Technologies

Ruth George – Ruth George HR Consulting

Sean Harrison – Machins Solicitors

Steve Coulam – Holiday Inn Hemel Hempstead

Tina Webb – National Rail

Zahra Lewis – Ashridge Management College

GivingHere is the latest Connect Dacorum Opportunities List for your consideration. If you can help with any of the below, have any of the items or money to pay for them, then please come back to me initially for more information.

If you have any items that are not listed below but you do not need anymore and would like to give to charity, please let me know. 

  • Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled needs a White Board and an office scanner/printer
  • Dacorum Heritage Trust need to clear out their Reception Bay at The Museum Store in Berkhamsted and they need some manpower. Their requirements are for 2 or 3 people to help with moderate lifting, owing to limited space we would not be able to have more than 3 at any time.  We plan to do this on a week day in June if at all possible.
  • West Herts and Bucks Sands is looking for volunteers to help maintain the Memorial Garden in Gadebridge Park. The garden is jointly run by Sands and DBC but relies on volunteers for the upkeep. Contact details are This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07583 324157. http://www.westhertsbuckssands.org.uk/memorialgarden.html
  • Sunnyside Rural Trust are looking for cooking items as they have just installed a cooker at Hemel Food Garden which will be used by their trainees.  Any pans, mixing bowls, chopping boards, knives, tea towels, utensils, baking tins, casserole dishes, aprons, oven gloves, preserving pan etc would be very welcome.
  • An Introduction to Excel Formulas & Analysing Data with Excel Pivot Tables Subsidised Workshops by Dacorum Borough Council

   Wednesday 17th June 2015, 9.30am – 12.30pm

   Wednesday 17th June 2015, 13.30pm – 16.30pm

   Maylands Business Centre, Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7ES

   Cost:  £45+VAT each

An Introduction to Excel Formulas is designed for those delegates who want to learn how to automate their spreadsheet by the use of formulas.

Analysing Data with Excel Pivot Tables is designed for those delegates who wish to understand how to analyse and present their data more efficiently using Excel Pivot Tables.

(These workshops can be attended separately or together as they are interdependent)

To book your place, please contact 01442 531002 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • The Hospice Lottery are looking for any corporate businesses or individuals a chance to request taking a few books of ‘Superdraw’ tickets to share with colleagues, family and friends. The draw takes place on 27th June at the Tring Carnival, so all ticket stubs and money would need to be returned ideally by 20th June.  If anyone is interested, could they email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or alternatively click on the link below!  1st prize is £5,000, with 2 main runners up prizes, Champneys Essentials Spa day and afternoon tea at Waddesdon Manor buy your tickets now!

Longdean 2015 1 smallTwo Hundred Year 10 pupils from Longdean School in Hemel Hempstead took part in an Employability Skills day on Thursday 7th May organised and run by Connect Dacorum.  The pupils were in groups of 8 and each group had a facilitator from local businesses who had given up their morning to help the children with CV writing and interview skills.

All students were in the halls which instantly created a buzz. The event was interactive for the pupils – interviewing their facilitators, putting themselves in the mind of an employer looking at CVs for a new trainee graphic designer and critiquing them before moving on to looking in more detail at their own CVs and giving advice.  The second session 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 “this is the second year Connect Dacorum has organised this at Longdean School and it is great to see how much both the pupils and facilitators get out of the experience”.

The pupils also completed a feedback sheet at the end of the day with all of them of them saying that it was really helpful.  One wrote “I found out the key points of how to be employed and what is needed in your CV. And interviews, always prepare for an interview and think about what employers are looking for”.  Another said “I have found out how to sell yourself, make known all your qualities and things to do and not to do when attending an interview. Also how to enhance our CVs”.

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. 

Hannah Bailey from Osborne said ““Osborne were delighted to spend the day with students from Longdean school. It was inspiring to see how enthusiastic and engaged they were in discussing their options after education. It goes to show the impact it can have when schools and businesses work together.”

“Machins Solicitors thoroughly enjoyed taking part in what was a very rewarding day with an engaging and dynamic group of students” said Abi Palmer,Marketing Manager at Machins Solicitors who sent along two of their trainee solicitors.

This programme is also being held on the 29th and 30th June at Hemel Hempstead School. If there are any businesses who would like their staff to be involved and become a facilitator for these events in future please contact Cindy Withey at Connect Dacorum on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Facilitators:

Alex Deller-Rust – Machins Solicitors

Alistair Budd – retired HR director

Amanda Winder – Strive Development

Anne Lean – Warner Bros Studios, Levesden

Annie Smith – The Hospice Lottery

Ayesha Hafiz – Britvic

Barbara Hancock – DENS charity

Cara Wright – self employed

Caroline Evans – Hemel Hempstead Old Town Hall

Cindy Deacon - UKTD

Dave Moore – Dacorum Borough Council

Devi Raghwani – Job Centre Plus

Frances Swan – Job Centre Plus

Gordon Dickens – The Tutor Doctor

Hannah Bailey - Osborrne

John Champion – EML Retail Display

Karen Gosen – Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled

Linda Oatley – The Centre in the Park

Lorna Chiverton-Hunt – Youth Coach

Maggie Grand – Sunnyside Rural Trust

Maria McKenna - Osborne

Olivia Llewellyn -  Machins Solicitors

Simon Redlich – Audit Bureau of Circulations

Simon Stillman – Life Coach

Steve Coulam – Holiday Inn Hemel Hempstead

Sue Prowse - Dacorum Borough Council

Tania Barney - Sensoria

Tony Munday – TM Development Associates

longdean1Over the past couple of weeks I have briefed nearly everyone who has volunteered to take part in the Employability Days at Longdean and Hemel Hempstead Schools.

Next Thursday (election day) sees 30 volunteers from different businesses give up their mornings to help 200 year 10 students at Longdean School with CV writing and interview techniques. 

Hemel Hempstead School are running their Employability Days on the 29th and 30th June.

Many thanks to all our wonderful volunteers for giving up their time. Update on how the day went will be posted.