Crownway Community Centre, Newton le Willows, Merseyside
Carol Bostock is the Centre Manager from Crownway Community Centre. She uses her role as a Workplace Learning Advocate (WLA) to support staff, volunteers and local residents in Newton le Willows (Merseyside).
Carol is a WLA and is now also a Lead WLA. Here is her story ….
“The centre has a very small staff team and relies a lot on volunteers to run activities. One of my roles has been to set up a range of training courses for volunteers. This training has included food hygiene, health & safety, manual handling, first aid, communication skills, personal development, I.T, Safeguarding, business administration level 2, basic invoicing and art.
I have used the Learning for Work booklets (housed in the closed section of the WLA website) to train volunteers in improving telephone skills, introducing writing skills, effective team working, customer care, writing better reports and CVs. The booklets have been really useful to build confidence and self esteem within the team and the once quiet volunteers are now learning they have a voice and it will be heard! I would encourage WLAs to register on the website in order to access these booklets.
In addition I have set up the centre as an UK Online Centre which has enabled me to offer computer courses and generate some funding from providing this learning. I also have enlisted the help of a volunteer who helps to run IT training for local residents.
I also use my WLA skills to encourage volunteers to gain paid work. One of my successes has been to work closely with a young adult with learning difficulties. This has enabled her to be positive about life and to believe that she could find employment in a very competitive market. She has gained the confidence to go back to college and gain qualifications in catering and nursery nursing. She has also held a full time post helping in a kitchen and more recently has been employed as a nursery nurse. She still attends the centre for support and to access any relevant courses that may be appropriate for her.
I think it is very important to offer work experience opportunities and I offer placements to local schools and colleges to encourage people to find out about the world of work.
I think that one of the roles of a WLA is to share information about learning. As well as sharing the information from WLA E-Shots with staff and volunteers I also try to share it with other local community centres. I attend regular meetings with other centres and feed in information to the meetings. I also share information with Liz Johnston to pass on to other WLAs.
I’ve recently agreed to become a Lead WLA (Someone who is willing to share her experience with newer WLAs and who will spread the message about the WLA initiative). One of my first plans is to co-ordinate get-togethers for Merseyside WLAs in early 2013 so that we can share our experiences and possibly join up to organise joint training courses and events.
It is great to be able to use my WLA skills in so many different ways. I’m trying to set up the community centre as a place which offers learning opportunities for staff and volunteers but also encourages local people to come in and learn.”