Bromford Group Guest Blog

Faye Daly, a Customer Advisor at the Bromford Group in Wolverhampton writes here about her experience with Enabling Enterprise.

Bromford Group is a social business with over 50 years of experience in providing high-quality homes for rent and sale, plus specialist housing support, training and employment services.

Here Faye writes about volunteering with Enabling Enterprise and the links between her experience working with primary school children from Birmingham and the Bromford Deal, the Group’s core principle for working in partnership with its customers.

“They arrived as children and left as future leaders and entrepreneurs”

Recently, I had the privilege of volunteering on an Enabling Enterprise school visit, hosted by Bromford Group at our office in Wolverhampton. We hosted a group of 20 children from Topcliffe Primary School, a very forward-thinking school based in Castle Vale, Birmingham. Bromford has been hosting school visits for the last three years, and colleagues who had volunteered in the past had nothing but positive stories to share.

Active Volunteers

Trips to businesses make up a key component of the Enabling Enterprise programme and typically see a group of up to 30 pupils finding out about the business and working on a project through the day in small teams. Our role as volunteers was to support these small teams and to act as judges, giving feedback on the groups’ final presentations. The brief was to set up a snack shop for Bromford employees. This involved carrying out market research, planning what items and how many of each they would stock, working out profit margins, designing branding and finally presenting all of this to the rest of the group.

A Game of Zip Zap Boing

Seeing the children progress from being apprehensive when they walked through the door to confident public speakers who were only too happy to share ideas was one of the most valuable things for me. It wasn’t only the children though. My fellow volunteers-Andy and Julie- and I were clearly nervous at first. We work in fairly comfortable desk jobs where we usually have a good idea of what to expect for the day, but the unpredictable nature of children can be quite daunting when you don’t work with them every day-even to Andy and Julie, who are both parents. We started with a game of ‘Zip, Zap, Boing,’ which involved shooting an imaginary ball of energy around the group and making the correct corresponding noise, and the group seeing us volunteers and their teachers having fun with them and getting it wrong occasionally put them and us at ease.

Transferable Enterprise Skills

We drew on skills that they picked up in the game – concentrating, thinking quickly and listening carefully – through the rest of the day. Pointing out that they had already used these skills gave them the confidence to put them into practice again. For me, any nerves that I originally had vanished as I got more involved with supporting my small team to be their best.

The day was broken down into manageable chunks, with teams being given strict deadlines to work to. They were made accountable as Mike from Enabling Enterprise asked all of them questions between each task, so they soon learned that they had to have an answer ready. Most tasks can be broken down in this way, so they can approach their future projects with this in mind; what the children involved may not have realised just yet, but will eventually, is that they developed so many transferrable skills over the course of this one day, such as listening, teambuilding and sharing ideas, that will not only equip them for future projects, but make them more valuable as employees and employers. These are skills that they will build on as they grow older and, as with ‘Zip, Zap Boing,’ can be confident that they have used them in the past successfully.

The Value to Volunteers

Spending time with Bromford gave the pupils an opportunity to find out about us, and explore careers that they may not have known existed (see Jenny Fitzgerald’s post There are more than seven jobs). They will also have gained a positive experience from working with us; hopefully this will encourage some of them to think of us as a potential employer or landlord in the future. From a colleague development standpoint, the opportunity to volunteer with Enabling Enterprise is an extremely valuable one. It enables colleagues to try a new challenge that is different to anything that they would normally encounter in their ‘day job’.

Inspiring the Next Generation

It is inspiring to see the potential in the pupils and think of where their careers might take them, I felt that our group arrived as children and left as future leaders and entrepreneurs, with some extremely persuasive salespeople in the mix. It also inspired me to think about how we can use the approach that we took with our groups and adapt it to our colleagues and customers. Somebody’s needs at the age of eight to ten represent the basic needs of most adults in the working world. We need to be encouraged and supported, we need to be held accountable for our actions, we need people to be patient with us and we need feedback to help us reach the next level without being stifled and certainly without being patronised.

Our pupils were given autonomy to come up with their own ideas, and as a result they took ownership of their creations, which truly shone through in their final presentations. Public speaking becomes a lot more exciting when you are presenting something that you are passionate about. A good team leader will treat their team similarly, instilling in them the confidence to question the status quo and present new ideas. Bromford is great at this, in our inductions we are encouraged to be curious and ask ‘why’ while we have fresh eyes.

There are parallels to be drawn here with the Bromford Deal and, within that, Connect, in which our customers are supported to be responsible for their homes and neighbourhoods and encouraged to give something back to their community to make it a great place to live, whether that is working or volunteering and sharing skills. If we are asking our customers to do this, we as colleagues should follow our own example, and hosting these visits, sharing our skills with younger generations is a great way to do this.

Post discussion

One Response to “They Arrived as Children and Left as Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs”

  • Andy Johnson December 17, 2013

    Well done Faye, this is great and a very accurate account of the day. I love how you’ve drawn on the similarities to the Deal and you’re absolutley spot on; as colleagues we should lead by example and volunteer our own time into the community in the same way that we expect that of our customers.

    Congrats on a fab debut. More to come I hope!

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