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Business Start-up training & people who are HIV Positive

Time for me to Shine workshops & HIV Positive

Red Potato are really pleased to be working with our HertsAid friends to deliver part of the “Time for me to shine” programme.  “Time for me to shine” comprises of five employability workshops that will be held in September and October 2016. The workshops are aimed at HIV Positive service users. Red Potato will be delivering the business start-up training modules that form a part of this programme.  We’re really looking forward to making an impact!

Why is “Time for me to shine” needed?

It was another brilliant summer’s day for our filming – hence we have been “lucky” this year with outdoor filming; so different to the “wet” August reputation! Last week, we filmed some HertsAid service users talk about the proposed “Time for me to shine” programme.  Some of the service users we talked with,  were HIV Positive and they had experienced difficulty securing full time employment.  Consequently several people that we interviewed for the film, also said that they were interested to know more about self-employment.

We are grateful to everyone at HertsAid for their help with the filming and also their patience.  For us, the day was full of new insights.

We will be talking more about the “Time for me to shine” in the coming weeks, so do keep dropping by! For the time being here is a photo of the very helpful outreach team at HertsAid!
Herts Aid Photo

East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust are proud of the wide range of general and specialist services provided to patients. The Trust has over 5,000 dedicated staff making sure patients get the best care,
at four hospitals:

Hertford County hospital, Hertford
The Lister hospital, Stevenage
Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, Northwood
The New QEII hospital, Welwyn Garden City

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust aims to be amongst the best acute trusts in the country. In 2015 the Trust won several awards including winners in the community, public health and overall project categories in the NHS Sustainability Awards

The Trust actively encourages young people to become involved using the social media campaign #theFutureisMembership and wanted to extend our reach into the community and recruit new young members,
and the AGM provided an opportunity for them to showcase their interest in the Health Service.

David Brewer, at the Trust explains “..“I asked the Red Potato team to engage schools and young people from Welwyn Hatield to be involved in the Trust’s AGM, especially to take part in our marketplace of activities
to provide insight from young people about what their local NHS means to them.”

So what was the result?

“The AGM was a real success, and Red Potato delivered exactly what was required. They
devised an effective engagement programme that demonstrated a good understanding of our ethos.
And as a result, we soon went back to Red Potato with a second commission, this time to work with
schools on the NHS Takeover Challenge, sponsored by the government’s Children’s Commissioner,
in which the students worked with Trust staf to make a real practical diference to improve
our services including catering and waiting areas for young people.
Jay and his team managed the whole process of recruiting the students, including organising
a preparation event two weeks before the Takeover Day itself, and we were very pleased
with their contribution, which undoubtedly enhanced the event for all concerned.”

“Red Potato goes the extra mile to deliver what they promise. For anyone in the public sector in particular, they are especially effective.”

David Brewer, Head of Engagement, East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust


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Do the preparation, check the destination

The  project has been completed, the final report, finally approved, the diary is clear of project update meetings and the virtual team has gone its separate ways.

But what has changed?   How have things improved?   Have things got better for local people?   These are the questions which we need to be answered for any project involving public resources and aimed at addressing local community need.     Sounds obvious but how good is the sector at addressing these questions – from my own experience I think the picture is mixed.   There are some genuine efforts to communicate with residents about project outcomes and whether the initial objectives were achieved.      There are also some pretty poorly executed attempts at corporate back-slapping based on fairly limited progress.

The reason for this is measuring outcomes means we need to state clearly at the outset of the project “how will people be better off”.    Mark Friedman discusses the process of “turning the curve”; describing the outcome to be improved and what is likely to happen if nothing changes.   Actions are then measured against this projected baseline.  By taking effective and timely actions, improvements are made against the baseline.

The trick is doing the preparation beforehand to agree the metrics by which the project will be judged, including milestones to check progress along the way.    And regularly communicate with residents must be central to the project.

If people don’t feel that things have changed then the project can’t be claimed to be a success.


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We don’t do politics here…

…well that’s not quite true.   Despite the name of our company Red Potato doesn’t do party politics, we are apolitical; we work with all the mainstream parties and none.

We are committed to improving things for local people.   We are committed to working with people who want to challenge the way things are done.   We also believe passionately in demonstrating the value of the work we do with the communities we serve.

If you recognise any of this, perhaps we should meet.

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Change is tricky

OK so you’ve got this great idea – it hits the “green” button, it will reduce costs to your organisation and provide greater insight into how the organisation works. Simples, all you need to do is tell your boss what you plan to do and then wait for the plaudits from the Chief Executive.

How wrong can you be?

Thing is that what you may see as a change for the better, will have unintended consequences across the organisation.   Those vested interests will do their best to frustrate the changes, hence the importance of taking the time to build a strong coalition of people who see change in their interest.  Also having a clear vision and sticking with it.    And finally keeping the common touch, while inspiring all to greater things.   Easy really!