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The “C” Word

The “C” word

We said the “C” word and there was a look of disbelief among the delegates.

Everyone was looking shocked. Were we really saying that the “C” word was something that needed to be discussed on a course aimed at improving the skills needed to secure a job in hospitality?

The delegates on the course were unemployed, some had chequered employment histories, several were claiming ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).  All of the delegates on the course had had a tough time.   There were people recovering from addiction, people with learning disabilities, people who were recovering from life changing illnesses, which meant they faced large debts. It was no wonder that the “C” word – i,e confidence was in short supply for many of the people in the room.

Labour Market Skills

Red Potato has a mission to connect businesses with local communities. In the South East of England, the unemployment rate is low: The complaint from businesses is that they can’t get sufficiently highly qualified and competent staff from local labour markets.  But, despite the demand from employers, there remain many people who are still struggling to secure a job.   The reasons they are struggling maybe due to the disadvantages that were previously listed.  However those disadvantages, should not mean that they are excluded from jobs. The purpose of our courses on areas such as hospitality and catering is to help people.  Help people acquire the skills needed to build a rewarding career in service sector industries.  From our experience, rebuilding confidence is central to helping people secure their future.

Delegates on our courses go beyond the technical skills of job search, interviewing and understanding.   Delegates are encouraged to network and share their experiences.  By sharing experiences the group started to work together. By working together, the delegates then began to see the skills and competencies in themselves.  For example, numeracy skills, and skills such as empathy and perseverance. Until this point no one had recognised and valued those skills .  So, from this hesitant start the delegates have begun to build confidence.  Not just confidence to go and get a job. Instead they have acquired the confidence to challenge society’s expectations of what they can and can’t do.

It was a privilege to work with such a great group of people!


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#FSBHertsAwards – FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards

FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards 2015

Red Potato are finalists in the 2015 FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards!  This is a great recognition of our work!

Why are Red Potato in the “Business Innovation” awards category?

Red Potato Community Insight Animations have been nominated for the “Business Innovation” awards category! Brilliant news! The animations report upon business targets and performance in a innovative and funky style. Students from the digital animation course at The University of Hertfordshire often help us with the animations.  So as you can see, we like to keep things local and in so doing we like to support our local university!

FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards

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What is it like to work at Red Potato?

Asen Stoimenov graduated in management from the University of Hertfordshire.  Here he writes about his first days with Red Potato.

“Upon graduating from University I was scanning the job market to find a job to match my skills and personality and luckily I came across Red Potato on University of Hertfordshire’s career hub and I was warmly welcomed to start work as an Agile Business Consultant. It has only been a few days and it is amazingly interesting – it is a new field of work for me and I am learning many many things. While this is normal when starting a new job, I believe that this intensive process of learning will not cease due to the nature of the work and the nature of Red Potato, which is to explore, analyse, generate ideas and improve. Now instead of separating work from learning, growing and improving myself, I can do them both together, which is a huge benefit.

The Red Potato culture is supportive, easy-going, and provides a healthy framework that promotes engagement and commitment.

My initial tasks required me to tap into the knowledge and skills that I acquired in University and I found myself going through past projects to find clues on how to complete my current work tasks. That is a refreshing feeling, because this way my University Degree matters. There is also quite a bit of freedom and creativity and, while challenging, it gives me the opportunity to make a difference in real life with my own efforts.

I am delighted to embark on the journey with Red Potato towards new heights.”


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Today, Business in the Community has launched “Responsible Business Week 2015”. Red Potato are very happy to support #RBWeek.  Red Potato will (fingers crossed!) be offering a great work placement opportunity for a local student to develop some funky stuff, later this week.  More news on that after the interviews!

Responsible Business Week got us thinking…shouldn’t every week be “Responsible Business Week”? Isn’t it good business practice that a business needs to have roots in the communities it serves?

BITC_Planters_Categories_SUPPORTING_AW Continue reading #RBWeek

Herts Healthy Homes Partnership Programme, with Hertfordshire County Council


Hertfordshire County Council/ Herts Healthy Homes project

Red Potato were selected by Hertfordshire County Council to:

  1. build engagement and involvement from a diverse range of partner organisations, including voluntary sector organisations, district and borough Councils
  2. ensure partnership outcomes were recorded and communicated
  3. work with Herts Healthy Homes partners to create and embed referral processes

Hertfordshire County Council said:

“Red Potato were really efficient and happy to talk to other key providers. We’d have no hesitation in recommending Red Potato for project support. They deliver exactly what they promise.”


Herts Healthy Homes & Red Potato
Herts Healthy Homes – Red Potato provided project support for this Hertfordshire County Council partnership project


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Well done to all the Teams who participated in the 2015 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge!  Red Potato were pleased to be a business partner with Welwyn Hatfield Council to deliver the programme again this year.

The Challenge requires local schools to work with local businesses and charities with the aim of growing £100 “seed capital” into at least £1000.  All the proceeds from the Team activities are given to the charity that the team is paired with for the duration of the competition.   At the Awards event, it was great to hear about the strong relationship that had been built and that many of the schools said they would continue to work with the charity, even though this year’s Challenge is now over.

You can get a flavour of the excitement by viewing the Awards night story!



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Working in Partnership with Councils

Judgement Day at the #LGCAwards: We were really happy when asked to be part of the Welwyn Hatfield Council presentation to the Local Government Chronicle Awards panel in #London.  During January the team (composed of Welwyn Hatfield Council and Red Potato staff) put in the time to prepare and rehearse our pitch to the judges.  It was great to have the support of the Welwyn Hatfield Council CEO who quizzed us hard, before approving our final presentation.   Red Potato had helped the Council engage local businesses with an innovative scheme for young people to gain experience of being an entrepreneur.  The young people gained valuable experience which will help them in their future careers and the businesses gained a useful insight into the mindset of “Millennials”, as customers and potential employees.   Red Potato has conducted initial research that shows that a typical Return on Investment for businesses who participated as a staggering 81.8%! In terms of cash that means for every £100 a local business invested in the programme, they could receive benefits worth upto £500! If you’d like to discuss how we could work with your local council and local businesses to achieve similar results do get in touch.   In the meantime we anxiously await the results of the LGC judging process….

On behalf of Red Potato we wish Welwyn Hatfield Council the best of luck, for when the final awards are announced in March.


Welwyn Hatfield Alliance

Welwyn Hatfield

The Welwyn Hatfield Alliance (LSP) is based in Hertfordshire, England.  Members of the Alliance include key public sector organisations, businesses, community groups and voluntary groups who have a shared vision: to improve the quality of life for all in Welwyn Hatfield.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has a key role in economic development and supporting the Welwyn Hatfield Alliance.  The focus of the council is to provide strong community leadership.   This includes helping local people to compete for local jobs and supporting local business at a time when demand for services has increased and budgets are under pressure.

Welwyn Hatfield Council selected Red Potato to develop a 12 month work programme which would attract the involvement of local partners such as Colleges, Housing Trusts, DWP and the LEP. Red Potato project managed the work programme, including coordinating partnership work, communicating progress and demonstrating long term outcomes.

“Red Potato enabled the work programme to happen; by ensuring we stuck to our original vision, building strong relationships with the partners, and communicating with clarity”
Chris Conway Director of Strategy and Development, Welwyn Hatfield Council

Herts Action on Disability (HAD)

 HAD is a charity which helps older and disabled people to lead an independent life. HAD Occupational Therapists work closely with clients to diagnose mobility issues. Disabled and older people can attend the HAD Chair Clinic to assess their mobility.HAD wanted to promote the Chair Clinic to a wider audience and chose Red Potato to produce a video to show how the service helps people. Red Potato were chosen by HAD because of their track record in partnership working, understanding of the HAD objectives and flexibility.
“Red Potato worked in partnership with HAD to produce a video to promote our chair clinic service and has helped us with market research to support our social enterprise ambitions. We were pleased with the way Red Potato worked with HAD to help deliver our community engagement and partnership objectives” Annabelle Waterford, Chief Executive HAD
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Starting a business – Week 1

Red Potato started trading this week and it’s been a great week.   What does that mean?  Well, it meant the business became central to everything we do – building the brand, identifying sales opportunities and firming up the products we offer our customers.

The challenge is to continually show value to customers, and be able to help customers in these uncertain times.   At a recent event a representative from the Bank of England discussed his views on the Economy – in essence there were many “headwinds” and not many “tailwinds” to propel the economy into prosperity.   My own view is that we will remain prosperous country compared to many in the world but that it will feel different to the 1980s & dot-com era prosperity.    I love that quote that the Netherlands have been in decline since the 1600’s but things still feeling pretty good in Amsterdam.

In these uncertain times, it is important to seek and act upon the advice from friends, contacts, and equally share information with the networks.  This is how we learn, refine our offer to meet the needs of others and run a successful business.  One door closes, another opens.

One door closes, another opens