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Perseverance key to success for the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentices

Perseverance central to success

Congratulations to all the teams in the 2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.   This is the fourth year Red Potato have worked with Welwyn Hatfield Council to deliver the Challenge.  Each year there seems to be some common element to the teams; this year it was perseverance.

The Challenge involves groups of young people working together with local businesses and charities over approximately six months.   Each year the groups of young people go through a process of forming and developing as a team.  This year the process of “form, reform, split up, make up” happened again.  What was different though was the perseverance shown by team members. Why is that important? Well, the ability to keep going with the Challenge despite changes to the team, was an important factor in the teams that were succcessful. The ability to keep going, to persevere despite the set backs is important. And crucially that grit and determination to make things work came through, in the team presentations. So, congratulations to all the teams for their achievements! Perseverance is a key quality for potential entrepreneurs. Based upon the 2017/18 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge it looks like the teams have learnt a lot about perseverance, lessons that will help them in their future careers.

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Three tips for engaging young people with your organisation

So here’s the thing, you need to communicate with young people about something important, but not urgent.   How do you do it?

Here are three quick tips we have learnt from recent work with school and college students.

  1. Test your ideas:

    In any campaign you would test your ideas with your target market. Young people are not an homogeneous market that can be easily defined.  By asking young people what they think of your ideas, you will get very useful feedback and it will help make your engagement more pertinent and so more likely to be successful.  At a recent event we had a great suggestion that the large screen could have a rolling display of social media posts, instead of a video no one could hear!

  2. Create a buzz before the event:

    The best way to do is to work with local schools or colleges so that the students are interested in your “message” prior to the event. Clearly this is only appropriate where you are working on a public service/community interest campaign.  For example recently we worked on launching the #HealthforTeens website.   Before the event we spent lots of time discussing the website themes with schools, so that school students knew more about what was involved and could influence the message, in this case about how to stay healthy!

  3. You need to persevere:

    Engagement with young people is not a one off, but needs to be part of a plan. Young people are besieged by messages, and your message is quickly forgotten. To make an impact you need to provide regular useful information that is relevant and speaks to young people.   We worked with schools and young people, after the #FutureHeroes Careers Expo to reinforce the messages, because life moves on!  Your event maybe important to you, but it will be vying for attention, with all the other things going on;   your event is only part of your campaign.  To ensure you get your message across, you need to plan, persevere and persist with the campaign.

And finally…

Young people are interested in what you have to say, but you need to be open, approachable and willing to change. The campaign will be stronger, more successful and certainly more fun!

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Three ideas to bring creativity into the business

Business owners often look for ways they can stand out from the crowd, here are three ideas that will bring creativity into the business.


Red Potato are involved in several projects that are connecting businesses with schools.  Most importantly, these projects are also bringing creativity to businesses.

Here are three ideas that will bring creativity into your business:

  1. Participate in Careers Fairs

    Careers Fairs are run by local schools and Colleges.  From the school’s point of view the aim is for employers to meet with student that could become interns or full time employees.   For the employer, it is a great opportunity to promote the different opportunities available in the business.  The Careers Fair can also raise awareness.   Asking the question “What do you think this business does?” is a good way to engage young people at Careers Fairs.  Be prepared for some “off-beat” responses though…businesses are often surprised by the answers they get to this question!

  2. Become trained as a mentor, mentor young people

    Red Potato are pleased to support the Careers & Enterprise Company Enterprise Advisor programme.  There are many different initiatives available to help employers train to become a mentor. In many organisations mentoring is central to employee development.  Teachers in schools and colleges are under time huge pressures. It is not realistic to expect that teachers will have the time to be able mentor to all of their students. Yet business leaders have unique experiences and insights that they can contribute.  It is a bewildering world when you are 16, with many different choices.   A trained business mentor could help young people navigate through the myriad career choices.

  3. Offer work experience

    Work experience is not an easy option for businesses.  Therefore an effective work experience placement requires preparation and time from the business.  Most relevant to this, was a statement by a Welwyn Hatfield (business mentor) Dragon.  The Dragon said they had been inspired by the Dragons Apprentice Challenge to offer structured work experience, because it was good for their business and great for the community the business serves.


So what has all this to do with business creativity?  As a result of these three ideas, employers find that young people have a habit of questioning business practice.  Most of all businesses soon see that they have to think more creatively, in order to keep up with the challenges of the market.


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2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge

2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge puts fire in the belly!


The successful launch of the 2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge was in early October.  The teams are now hard at work putting together their plans and learning about how to fully exploit the resources available to them.

Some of the things that have been happening so far include Halloween cake sales, designing goods for the Christmas markets and of course doughnut sales!

Make sure you follow their progress over the next few months by following the Twitter feed @Dragonappwelhat

In addition to direct sales, we hope the teams will look creatively at how they can use the “resources” at their disposal.

We are lucky to have ‘A’ list SuperDragons who are happy to consider helping the teams!  The Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge is also a great opportunity to practice and develop networking skills.   If any of the teams would like to find out more about how businesses network, they should attend one of the many business network groups in the area.   One of the groups we are happy to recommend attending is the Welwyn B-49 group

If any of the teams wish to find out more please make contact with us via @Dragonappwelhat


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East & North Herts NHS Trust AGM & Schools

East & North Herts NHS Trust AGM & Schools

Well done to all the schools who participated in the East & North Herts NHS Trust AGM! Red Potato worked with teams from local schools to help them prepare their “pitch”.  The NHS staff and many local health agencies were attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was held in July in Stevenage.

Which schools participated?

We’re really proud of the Year 10 and Year 11 students and teachers from Monks Walk, Nobel, Chancellors, Sir Frederic Osborne and Onslow St Audrey’s Schools’.  The students spent so much time preparing for the AGM –  and then participating so effectively at the AGM.  We hope that everyone had a good time, despite the weather!

Chair 2students

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How many different careers does the NHS offer?

The NHS offers a surprising number of different careers for ambitious young people, not just Doctors and Nurses.

Red Potato have been working with East & North Herts NHS Trust for the last year on several different initiatives to help young people understand more about the range of services provided at local hospitals and also the range of careers.

Last week was the culmination of the latest project: We helped the NHS engage with four different local secondary schools.  Everyone learnt a lot from the excellent Nursing Sister.  The Nursing Sister explained how much nursing has changed and she also explained the range of different nursing roles within a hospital.

Red Potato were on hand to record some of the key actions including filming some of the young people.  In the film they talk about their visit has positively influenced their career choices.

East & North Herts NHS Trust

On yes, since you ask, the answer to the question (how many different careers does the NHS offer) is 350.

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A message to all Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Teams…

“Don’t be a stranger.  Stay in touch, keep the network going”

How many times do we hear people say things like “keep up your networking, because it will pay dividends eventually”.

We start with good intentions to remain in touch, keep the contact going but we get distracted, events happen and then it becomes a bit awkward to re-build the business relationship.  Sounds a bit familiar? Don’t despair, it happens to everyone.

Why is networking important?

So our appeal to the brilliant young people who participated in the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge 2015-16 is to stay in touch with your charity and business Dragon.  You have done a lot of the really hard work by being part of the Dragons Apprentice Challenge.  Now is the time to build upon the relationships you have made with your charity and business Dragon: Tell them what you are doing to develop your skills and competencies. The business Dragon and/or Charity may not reply immediately, but keep going!

Show  your resilience and determination – you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose!

Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge

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Business owners: do you remember what it was like to be 16?

No, we don’t remember either! But it certainly wasn’t an easy time; so huge congratulations to the young people who ventured into the Dragons lair last week to present their business plans.

Success, Failure and Experience

The teams came to tell the story of how they succeeded, failed and learnt from experience, during the 2016 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

The eight teams had to brave a “friendly” grilling from our Super Dragons: Special thanks to our Super Dragons; Sir Roy Gardner, Robin Webb (St Lukes Hospice), Joanne Price (Barclays Bank) and Terry Michinson (Welwyn Hatfield Times) for “firing” off questions to the teams.

We were genuinely impressed by the preparation and passion shown by the teams.  It was great to hear their honest reflections upon the process.  Some of the young people said that their involvement had inspired them to continue to work with their charity and in some cases the young people said they were going to set up in business when they leave school.   Let’s hope they remember the lessons learnt as part of the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

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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Could young people run your local hospital?



Well we will soon find out because that is just what is going to happen on the 20th November!

Red Potato are working with local schools and the NHS to enable young people to give their perspective on how they would like to be treated by the NHS.  On Friday November 20th (#Takeover Day) local schools will get the opportunity to see first hand how decisions are made and also to give their views on how the needs of young people can be better served by the local NHS.

We will profile some of the schools and projects in the run up to #Takeover Day, so keep checking up @_redpotato