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.


Volunteering 2






 The greatest asset in most businesses is its workforce. Encouraging staff to volunteer their time and skills can benefit them, the community and your company in many ways. As well as creating an effective resource for charities, it provides a sense of fulfilment to employees and allows them to hone their skills in new and challenging situations.

Whether you want to support education, employability, homelessness or health programmes, build the capacity of local community groups or charities, we can help you engage your employees in successful projects with real impact.

Adeyfield winnerDacorum students raise over £7,000 for local charities in Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge


Winners of 2014/15 Challenge announced after budding entrepreneurs pitch to SuperDragons at Shendish Manor finals

23rd March 2015 – Gaddesden Dragons from Adeyfield School has been proclaimed the overall winner of the 3rd  annual Dacorum Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge. The team was one of six, shortlisted from local schools 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.

The teenage tycoons in waiting who stepped up to tackle a charity challenge were showered with praise on Monday night.

Competing 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.

Cllr Allan Lawson, 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 Year 12 pupils as they staged everything from cake sales and craft fairs to offering a ride in a Ferrari to hit their daunting targets.

Named as overall winners on the night were the team from Adeyfield School, who scooped a Snow Centre session and Tea & Cakes at Shendish Manor Hotel for their efforts in support of Gaddesden Riding for the Disabled charity.

Other winners were

Gaddesden Dragons from Adeyfield School for Most Money Earned, prize of Tea and Cakes from Shendish Manor Hotel

Team Flash at JFK School for Most Innovated Business Idea, prize of a meal from Nandos Restaurant in Jarman Park

Cooke’s Angels from Longdean School for Close Co-operation with your Charity, prize of a case of J2O’s for each team member from Britvic

New Beginnings from Tring School for Best Display, prize of a voucher towards a drinks and cakes from Costa Coffee

Cooke’s Angels from Longdean School for Best Presentation, prize of a training session at the Radio Dacorum studios

The Challenge is being run simultaneously across Hertfordshire with a total of 69 teams registering from 30 different schools in

Broxbourne & East Herts


North Herts and Stevenage

St Albans

Watford and Three Rivers

Welwyn & Hatfield

So that is 69 Dragons and 69 different charities too.  Broxbourne and North Herts are also having their Finals Evening tonight, with the others later this week.

As they celebrated their success the teenagers all agreed that the Dacorum Dragons Apprentice Challenge – now in it’s third 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.

keyboardWhen the last Opportunities List went out, one of the requests was from the Russian Association who were looking for a keyboard so they could start music lessons.  Martin from Adobe Bed & Continental got in touch with Connect Dacorum straight away with one he had that was available.

Joe from the Russian Associaiton says "I would like to pass on my thanks on behalf of the Russian Association to Martin from Abode Bed & Continental for his generous donation of a Yamaha keyboard. It will go to good use, for our Music lessons that will begin in September."

longdeanOne hundred and thirty five Year 10 pupils from Longdean School in Hemel Hempstead took part in an Employability Skills day on Thursday 8th May organised and run by Connect Dacorum.  The pupils were in groups of 9 and each group had one or two facilitators 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 “when I approached Longdean School about running this event and whether they would be keen for business people to come in and facilitate, they didn’t hesitate  and it was fantastic to see the plans put into practise”.

The pupils also completed a feedback sheet at the end of the day with 95% of them saying that it was really helpful.  One wrote “I will always prepare for an interview and think about what employers are looking for”.  Another said “This has really helped me.  There is more to coming into an interview with a good CV”.

The facilitators came from a wide variety of backgrounds and businesses, all willing to give up their time to help shape the future generation and pass on valuable advice.  Naomi Woodstock from Haven Holidays said “A great initiative by Connect Dacorum and it was great to be involved in helping the next generation of workers now have a better chance at getting to interview stage. Hopefully some of whom may well be applying to work here at Haven holidays in the future.

From my perspective I found it very rewarding, it was great to be able to feedback the benefit of doing voluntary work  such as walking an old ladies dog and helping her with her shopping which then enables her to put on her CV that she is caring and empathetic”. 

While Simon Stillman from Transition Coaching said "A definite buzz of excitement in the room and positive attitude towards learning key employability skills. Wish I had access to this when I was at school! A great day.”

Angela Cook, head of careers education at Longdean School was so pleased with the event that she would now like to run the same thing with the rest of the Year 10’s in July and hope that it is something that could be done every year.  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.