Podcast Episode: Get into Care campaign
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MD - Michelle Drumm
CMG - Corinne Morrison-Gillies
C - Charlene
‘Get into Care’ is a recruitment campaign that supports less advantaged young people to work in the care sector. Corinne Morrison-Gillies, Head of HR Operations and People Development at CrossReach, spoke to Iriss about this award-winning programme.
MD Thank you for speaking to us today about the ‘Get into Care’ campaign. Could you tell me just first off, what is ‘Get into Care’?
CMG Okay, so ‘Get into Care’ is essentially a programme which we have developed in conjunction with the Prince’s Trust, and I suppose I’ll give you some context to the background, ‘cause what we were doing was looking at removing barriers to recruitment. So that was sort of the overall aim of it, and we built up a partnership with the Prince’s Trust to support with bringing young people into care. So we’ve developed a five-week programme, which essentially is two weeks of classroom-based, two weeks’ placement, and one week with other support, so that would include sort of employability support, supporting young people with interview techniques, how to apply for jobs, and some sort of emotional support as well about working, ‘cause quite a lot of the young people have had either limited or no work experience. So it’s a five-week programme to support with removing barriers to recruitment in social care.
MD Fantastic, and where did the idea come from for the project?
CMG Initially not the idea but the connection came from one of our previous moderators who had a connection with the Prince’s Trust and put us in touch with them, and we had some informal discussions with them. It started how initially our young people that we support in our Children and Family service might benefit from the services that the Prince’s Trust offered. Now Prince’s Trust offered a ‘Get into’ programme, so the ‘Get into Retail’. They have very successful programmes with other organisations. So given that there is such a recruitment challenge within the social care sector they were doing a ‘Get into NHS’ programme as well. So it was a natural evolution, and we built up the relationship over about twelve to eighteen months. It was very much about building that relationship of trust with the Prince’s Trust, us attending and supporting events, them getting to know us, us getting to know them, and then we established that yeah, we would be good strategic partners to work with, and we developed the tailored programme with them.
MD Okay. Can you give me a little bit more detail about the actual programme then?
CMG Yeah, absolutely. So the programme essentially is, well first of all we actually assess those to come onto the programme. So we work closely with the Prince’s Trust to try and attract young people that have been unemployed for a period of time or not in education. So there’s a lot of, as you would expect, going out in social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, getting out into the community, Twitter, to try and promote that, and then what we do is we essentially have an Open Day, and it’s very relaxed and informal, and we would have our service users attend and really talk about what they look for in someone supporting them, what they would expect, what a day in their life looks like. So you give the young people a really good idea from the mouths of our service users rather than just us standing up and saying, “This is what it’s like to work in care”, and they get a real sense of that and they can ask questions etcetera. We have lunch with them and we really try and get to know them, and if they want to progress then on the same day they have a very much, I call it an interview process but it’s very informal, because what we’ve learned is that a lot of these young people as I say don’t maybe have work experience, but what we’ve also learned is that actually a lot of them actually have life experience, and much more than you would expect considering their ages. So I would say nearly all of our young people have experienced challenges with either supporting a parent with alcohol or addiction issues, supporting a grandparent with maybe dementia or something. So they have got a significant life experience in caring roles and actually it was about how you can establish that, and if you had looked at a lot of these young people on paper and in application forms you might not have taken them forward because actually they didn’t have the experience or they maybe weren’t able to articulate the life experience they had, but sitting down and in a relaxed setting and asking the right questions, basically it’s about them telling their story, and through them telling their story it became very apparent that they could support our service users in a really good way.
MD Brilliant. So the trick was really making people feel comfortable in that setting?
CMG Absolutely, yeah. Just asking the right questions. “Tell your story. Why do you want to work in care? Who have you cared for before? Tell us a bit about where you had a challenge in your life”, and then it all comes out and you’re like, “Wow, most of these young people have had so much life experience.”
MD Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
CMG So do you want me to say a bit more about the programme?
MD Yeah, please do.
CMG So yeah, so basically after that then we select, and usually we’d have about twelve young people on the programme. So we’d sit down and select, and I have to say, most of the young people want to be selected. So they have the option to opt out and say, “After from the service users and you guys then it’s not for us”, but most of them don’t. So that can be quite difficult in terms of selecting, and then once we’ve selected we would start to support them with getting a PVG before they can obviously come and work with us. So we would start that process and then we would start a two-week classroom-based programme with them, and that would include things like adult protection training, child protection training, health and safety, outcomes-based care, report writing, coping with grief, GIRFEC. So they all get a very general view but it also includes things like emotional resilience, which we train our staff in, etcetera, and it’s a mix of classroom-based learning and also we do quite a lot of e-learning as well. So it’s very much a mix to try and tailor to their needs. We also do a lot of team building and confidence building to support the young people, ‘cause quite a few of them maybe would have not much confidence and have some confidence issues. So we make it a lot of fun as well as making sure that they are going into placement, that they’re ready to go into placement then safely and with the knowledge and skills that they know exactly what they’re going into, and we worked in conjunction with our service managers as well as the Prince’s Trust to develop that. So obviously doing basic things like data protection and confidentiality, all of that. So yeah, that’s basically the two-week programme that they have.
MD And did any of the young people find that challenging?
CMG I think they did but I think it was about us looking at things differently. I mean we’re used to supporting people through learning that might have dyslexia, or that we all learn in different ways. So we’re quite used to doing that. I think probably what we learned from it most of all was making sure I would say that some of the barriers weren’t there. So barriers that you might not expect in a normal recruitment process such as we would support for example with paying travel expenses, we would provide lunch for everybody each day. So people weren’t dis-incentivised, or they weren’t unable to attend because they couldn’t afford to travel, and we also provided support if people needed it through counselling, which we run in-house.
CMG So we would be able to signpost people if they were having personal issues just really as a positive thing rather than that becoming an issue for them. So yeah, it was looking at things just a little bit differently and probably putting in more resource than we would in terms of our ratios, so having 2 trainers there at all times, whereas you might have had 1. Having support from the Prince’s Trust as well. So yeah, a huge bit of a change for us, but yeah, definitely worth it. Worthwhile for everybody.
MD Yeah. Fantastic, and was there a focus on peer support at all in your training?
CMG Absolutely. So the focus very much on them working as a team, and one of the things at the end, I mean it was very emotional particularly for the first one, is that we have a celebration day which the young people themselves decide what that looks like and how they do it, and their families and friends can attend that. Most of them choose to speak at it and talk about their journey and what it’s done for them. The girl that you’ll meet today, Charlene, who she’ll tell you herself, was not particularly confident, stood up at the end and sung ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and told us the effect that it had on her life and had us all in tears, but the team really gelled. We had a WhatsApp group for them so that they could communicate with each other with that, and they really gelled as a team and really supported each other. So if one of them was having a bit of a bad morning they cheered each other up. So yeah, that was really important to have that.
MD Great. Okay, and the project, it won the Making Change Happen award. Congratulations again.
CMG Thank you.
MD At the Scottish Social Services Awards. So tell me a little bit about why you think you achieved that award.
CMG I think because, I don’t know ‘cause I don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but I think because what we’ve got is a sustainable model which doesn’t just work in one organisation. It’s a model that I would say most social care providers could adopt and adapt. So you wouldn’t necessarily need to work with the Prince’s Trust. You could use the model and the programme in a similar way, and I think it was pretty unique. I think the social care sector as we know faces significant recruitment challenges and we’ve recognised that and we’ve, the same as every other provider, we thought we had done everything that we could to do it. Now the thing is, I think that for us it also works with our values. So we support service users, we support young people, we support older people, we support adults. So the key thing for us is the fact we’re actually supporting people that maybe haven’t had the best start in life to then come and care for vulnerable people.
CMG So it’s really a holistic approach.
CMG And it’s very much in line with our values and ethos of the organisation. So yeah, it’s probably why.
MD ‘Cause it must be the first project of its kind really? I haven’t heard of anything similar.
CMG I’m not sure. Yeah, I know that there was another organisation that did something similar with Prince’s Trust but I don’t think on the scale that we’ve done it with. So yeah, absolutely.
MD Brilliant, and if people were listening to this and they were thinking, “We’d love to adapt or use this model”, what would you advise around that?
CMG So how someone would use the model that we’ve got? I think would really be, I’m happy to have a chat with anybody that would want to do that, but I would probably say the best advice I could give is to really plan and make sure that you consider the resource that you have in place as well, because particularly initially in a training course that you might normally have one person train, you would probably want to have two just to ensure that the support is in place particularly for the young people at the beginning of that programme, and make sure that that continues throughout it. I would say be open. Be really, really open to doing things differently. So being open to people that haven’t worked in care or haven’t worked. Being really open to making sure that you do ask the right questions. You might have a really formal interview process in place at the moment. That might not necessarily work for bringing these young people in, but actually if you ask the right questions in a relaxed setting you’re really actually going to get the answers and find that you will have people that really have got life experience and that can really add value to support service users that have a heart for it.
CMG I would say that’s the thing, and that actually really, really want to do it. So the young people that are recruited are all still with us and they really have a heart for it. They really want to do it.
MD Is this campaign due to continue?
CMG Yeah. So we’ve run two now and we’re in constant discussion with Prince’s Trust. The next one will start in January.
CMG So we aim to do about three or four a year. We want to look to widening it ‘cause at the moment it’s quite location-based, but we’ve run one in Edinburgh. The first one was run in Glasgow and we’ve now run one in Edinburgh, which just finished in the middle of this year. We want to open it up to try and look if we kind of have a similar model which is maybe Scotland-wide. So something that can be done looking at what we can do with the use of technology. So you might have one young person in Orkney for example and one young person in Edinburgh at different locations. The thing that would fall down with is the team. So we would need to find a way of bringing them together at least once to do that, but yeah, absolutely we’re continuing to work with the Prince’s Trust and we’re also looking at using the same model to do this without necessarily the Prince’s Trust. So particularly looking at the fact that before someone even starting in a service, whether or not they could have a week off-job, which I think is quite resource-intensive, but I think historically in a lot of organisations you would have your traditional maybe corporate induction and people would go away and do that. I think what we found is that that really, really works because otherwise people start the job and with the best will in the world they get pulled into things and they get pulled into work. Whereas having some very focussed time that’s not a service enables their confidence and their skills to be built up. Even people that have worked in care in other organisations, rather than having them start in a service and then come on induction and do it in dribs and drabs, do their e-learning then have that focus, but yeah, it’s definitely going to continue with the Prince’s Trust and also hopefully at a different model as well. So yeah, next steps. I mean we have a recruitment strategy and as part of that it’s about looking to remove barriers to recruitment, but particularly looking at how we can support young people. So really getting into schools and promoting the benefits of social care as an employer. We’re going to use our Succession Planning Group to do a bit of work on that and really promote and get people to understand what they can get from a career in social care and for them to actually see it as a real way that they can be supported to achieve qualifications, whether that be an SVQ level 2 or SVQ level 3, we do PDAs, and to achieve that in a supporting environment whereby we would literally walk them through that. We have an in-house accredited SQA centre, which I’m in charge of as well. So we will support people to do as well as all the internal qualifications, but yeah, really getting out there and getting into the schools, getting into colleges, getting into community centres and really promoting social care and getting people to see that the skills that they might not know they have, that actually they do have skills and particularly they have skills which really would benefit us in social care. So having a heart for that work. You don’t have to have the work experience but you just have to have something in your heart to want to care and help people, and I think the word which is now being used a bit more is love. It’s about loving the people that we support. That’s not a bad word, that’s a really positive thing. So yeah, we want to remove the barriers and bring young people in so that they can love the job but also love and support the service users as much as we do.
MD Okay. Corinne, thanks for your time today.
CMG No, thank you.
MD It’s been lovely to speak to you.
CMG Thank you.
Charlene, a young woman involved in the programme, also shared the story of how she was supported into work by it.
MD Charlene, thanks so much for speaking to me today.
C You’re welcome.
MD Can you tell me; how did you get involved in ‘Get into Care’?
C I was unemployed for a very long time. So once my youngest turned five, obviously you have to start looking for work properly. So I went to the Job Centre and the woman at the Job Centre said about the Prince’s Trust. The Prince’s Trust were at the Job Centre at the time so I literally started talking to them and they were saying about all the different courses that were coming up and how I could get involved and stuff like that. So the ‘Get into Care’ course came up. The woman that was mentoring me at the time, she suggested that would be quite good to do the course because obviously she saw something in me that I didn’t see myself, and she said that she felt that I was quite suited for it, but I’d never done anything like that before. Never. So that was how I got into it basically.
MD Okay, and tell me then a little bit about your experiences. Is it the five-week programme that you’re involved in?
C Yeah. Well obviously at first we did the big group interview, which was absolutely terrifying, but it was fun at the same time because you got to know the people that you could potentially work with. So that was okay, and then it was the gap in-between about hearing if you’ve got the position or not.
MD So at the group interview there was a whole lot of other people like yourself?
C Oh yes, yeah.
MD Other people who are also going for the role?
MD And did you find that kind of empowering and interesting and fun or was it more sort of challenging?
C Well there was a girl on the course that I already did a yoga course with.
C Through the Prince’s Trust. So I kind of knew her.
MD So you knew somebody?
C So me and her sat beside each other and just talked to each other like, “We’ll just stay together.” So that was okay. So that was kind of a bit less intense, if that makes sense?
MD Okay, and then you had a waiting game?
C And then it was a waiting game, yeah, and I actually remember it to this day, I was doing the school run. So I was walking home from school and got a phone call saying, “Oh you’ve been selected for the course”, and I literally started crying.
MD Oh fantastic. Yeah, yeah.
C I was that happy, and then obviously the kids were asking why I was crying and I said, “Oh ‘cause I’m doing this course”, and they were like, “Oh mum, we’re so proud of you”, and then obviously that got me started again.
C So that’s the process for that one.
C On the course, really, really good course. There’s so much information with it and it wasn’t like constant facts, if that makes sense? It was more like it would be on a subject like say personality subject. We’d do different traits of personality and then obviously we got involved and tried to find what our personality was, if we were extrovert or introvert. Is that right?
MD Yeah. Spot on.
C Yeah. I’m surprised I remembered that! Yeah, so like the whole course was absolutely amazing. I made loads of friends and we all became like a wee knit family. It was so good.
MD Did it involve practical skills as well?
C Yeah because we had to do presentations in the group that we were in. We had to do presentations. So we were kind of like taken out of our comfort zones, if that makes sense? So like you didn’t have to speak but it was like, “Well why am I going to let everyone speak for me when I can do it for myself?” So yeah, it was all that sort of interaction as well.
MD So when you finished the training how did you feel?
C Good, but then obviously you go for your interview. ‘Cause we did the two-week placement I did a two-week placement with Threshold Glasgow. The first day as soon as I stepped in those doors, I don’t know what it was, it was just a feeling that I had to be there. I know that’s really hard to explain. I know I keep saying this to everyone but it was like I found where I fitted in sort of, like the place I fitted in. So I did the two weeks there. Absolutely loved it.
MD Okay. What kind of work was it?
C It was just basically shadowing people with housing, community and in-the-day opportunities.
CMG So Threshold Glasgow support adults that have got learning difficulties to live in the community, don’t they? So yeah, so you were involved in that.
C Yeah. So I was basically pretty much shadowing people for the whole two weeks but it was amazing. Absolutely amazing.
MD Yeah. Yeah.
C Honestly, I still love it. I still love it to this day. I’m still here!
MD And just going back to when you spoke to the Prince’s Trust, did they talk to you about the qualities they saw in you or around your potential?
C Well the girl that was my mentor, her name was Cheryl, she put down qualities that she thought that I had. Like obviously at the time I was very, very low self-esteem, manic depressive, like totally not feeling myself sort of thing.
C But she was like, “No, you’re caring. You’ve got a lovely personality. You’re easy to talk to.” So she was like, “These are the kind of the qualities that people look for in the care industry”, and I was like, “Right, okay. Well go for it!”
MD Yeah, and it was quite a different opportunity compared to having to go down the formal route or normal route of recruitment in care.
C Oh yeah, yeah.
MD Where you’d have to maybe just have a really daunting interview. There was more of a support mechanism in place for you within this programme?
C Oh definitely. Definitely.
C Because obviously before I went on the course we did like a day before I went on the course where she sat me down and was like, “Right, what skills do you think you could bring to the course?”, and I was like, “Nothing.” I was like, “Nothing at all”, and she’s like, “Well you can talk to people. You’re very easy to get along with”, and she started listing all these things and I’m sitting looking at her going, “How are you seeing this in me?” Like obviously at the time I was like, “No, that’s not me.”
C But no, she was definitely a big part of me getting into it as well so she was.
MD And what are you doing at the moment then?
C I am a Support Worker with Threshold Glasgow.
C So I’m still there.
MD Yeah, which is great.
C So I love it. I just love my job. I just love my job and I think that makes it ten times easier as well, getting up and wanting to go to work rather than getting up and going, “Oh I need to go to work”, but no, I absolutely love it.
MD It’s fantastic.
CMG And I remember at the end of the programme, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you were saying at the beginning you didn’t have much confidence, and you stood up at the end of that programme and sang.
C I sang, yeah.
CMG For our whole Corporate Management Team, and did ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.
CMG And you had us all in tears, and from what I saw at the beginning on that Open Day, you were quite shy. You were reserved and then you stood up in front of the Corporate Management Team, which I couldn’t do, and you spoke so eloquently and you sang, and I just think, “Wow, in five weeks!”
MD It’s amazing.
CMG How did you feel doing that?
C I was quite nervous but then I was like, “No, I’m going to show the people that are actually investing in me how much it has changed me as a person.” Like I still can be quite shy. Like obviously when you’re first getting to know me I’m quite nervous, but after that you can’t shut me up!
MD So the Judy Garland came out in you basically?
C Yeah. I got people crying and I was like, “Oh is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is it that bad?”
MD This campaign really that you came across, without it do you feel you’d be in a different place right now?
C Oh yeah. For sure.
C For sure. I’d hate to imagine what my life would be like right now if I didn’t have the Prince’s Trust and CrossReach programme to be honest. I know that sounds like a pure cliché but it’s not. It’s really not. I honestly don’t know. I think that before I started this course, to me I was just a mum. I was just a mum. That was it. My life revolved around my kids and I had no social life whatsoever. It was just the kids, dealing with the kids, cleaning up after the kids, whatever, but since I started working it’s about me as well. So my life was a spiral of like completely, completely out of control, because now it’s given not just me but my kids a routine as well. Whereas before if I was having like I say a down day, I’d be like, “Oh kids, we’re not going to school today. Mum’s not feeling well”, but now I’m like, “No, we’re getting up. We’re going. We’re doing this.”
MD So it’s impacted you but it’s also impacted your family life?
C Oh yeah, for sure.
MD Your general life.
C Yeah. I’m not just a mum, I’m Charlene again.
CMG Yeah. I mean it makes me emotional still thinking about it, from that start to finish, just seeing everybody grow, and the fact that you’re all still here.
C I know, right.
CMG And that’s the thing, it’s about bringing people in, changing your lives, changing young people’s lives, and then you’re now in turn changing the service user’s lives, which is just, the whole thing, it’s amazing. This could happen in other organisations over the country but I just think you guys, you’re so inspiring to have gone from where you were into supporting now the people you support. I think it’s amazing.
MD Yeah. It is amazing.
C It definitely has. I know this is going to sound cliché but it definitely did save my life. I’m not going to lie about it ‘cause I would hate to think where I would be right now if it wasn’t for the Prince’s Trust and CrossReach … like honestly.
MD Well, Charlene, thanks so much for your time. It was lovely to speak to you, and very best of luck with the work.
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