The staff forum met on Wednesday 30 October to look at the topic of Learning and Development, consider possible additional questions for the next staff survey, follow up actions from the last meeting and staff suggestions. The following attended; Astrid Stubbs, Bernie Butler, Julia Murray Logue, Jo Best, Laura King, Robert Adams, Sharon Bridle and Siobhan Anthony. The meeting was chaired by Julia Murray Logue. Adeelah Khan, Amanda Evans, Claudia Cavanagh and Vanessa Hasted were unable to attend.

Robert Adams the new chair of trustees was welcomed to the forum.

Julia gave a brief overview of the current learning and development activities which broadly fell into 4 categories;
skills based training e.g. response line, good practice group facilitation,
statutory/compliance e.g. WSCC Gateway health & safety and GDPR modules,
knowledge and behavioural development e.g. Samaritans briefing and customer care training, support, to motivate & retain e.g. qualifications and attending conferences reflective practice, supported professional development

As well as scheduling new dates for existing training into the plan, Julia gave some examples of the new courses and briefings in the draft plan for 2020/2021. These have come mainly from suggestions during the year from across Carers Support. The draft plan will be shared with the Ops Team Leaders mid-November and is expected to be available from the end of November although the budget for courses from April 2021 is still to be agreed.

The forum then discussed the learning & development opportunities on offer. Staff liked the Gateway and ‘what’s new’ emails but there were some issues around courses being booked up months in advance making it difficult to complete mandatory training during probation and useful courses not open to our staff. The also valued bringing in external organisations and trainers.

The forum suggested the following improvements or additions to the plan – an organisational skills audit, facilitating staff workloads so they can attend training particularly part time staff without impacting on services, better communication between managers and teams around bookings and cover, induction training, more use of online training, basic to advanced MS Office skills training and options to release all staff to train on one day.

Julia acknowledged that the organisation and communication of learning & development opportunities needed improvement. The forum suggested where possible 3 months’ notice of courses. Options suggested were similar arrangements to those for booking response line shifts, using the training function in Simply Personnel, Eventbrite and re introducing the quarterly printed summary which forum members had found useful. Julia said she and Amanda would look into these options and report back to the forum.

Julia updated the forum on actions from last meeting. Sonia Mangan had emailed all staff in September with details of the action plan following June’s staff and volunteer engagement survey which included a commitment to regular one to one/ supervision across the organisation and new policy and revised learning and development policy. The long service gift suggestion will be considered at a later date as part of a review of reward and benefit.

The forum then discussed the staff survey. As well as the previous suggestions to add a comment section after each question and improve the guidance, the forum suggested that ‘recently’ be added to question 4. They felt asking about feedback in the last 7 days was too specific particularly for volunteers who support a group on a monthly basis. Also to add a final question ‘Do you think there are any issues this survey does not address?’ This would be useful for determining future staff forum topics. Julia said she would discuss these suggestions with the trustee Neal Young who had proposed the Q12 format.

There was a suggestion from two forum members to use Ecosia (a search engine that uses ad revenue to plant trees to support reforestation) as the default setting as part of the Windows 10 roll out. Julia said she would ask Future Systems to look into it.

Concern was raised about the salary for a recent communications vacancy which was higher than previous roles within the department. Julia said that there was an outstanding action from February’s meeting to involve the forum in a review of roles and responsibilities but that this had been unfortunately delayed until the new CRM was established.

Robert said that Cloud 9, the appointed supplier was making good progress and the CRM was expected to be up and running by May 2020. There was a question on how the desk top review would be carried out and Julia suggested Neal Young be invited to May’s meeting to explain and answer any questions.
Julia said she had received a suggestion for itemised pay for staff working variable hours which she had forwarded to the finance department.

The forum discussed and agreed dates for 2020, and that meetings would be 90 minutes. As well as a review of terms of reference and make up of representatives, the topic for the first meeting in 2020 would be Carers Support’s Environmental Sustainability Policy and ideas for improvement.

1) Follow up suggestions for next staff and volunteer engagement survey NY / JML
2) Review communication and booking of learning & development activities JML/ AE
3) Look at feasibility of using Ecosia as default search engine Future Systems
4) Issue dates for 2020 and invite Neal Young to 13 May meeting JML
Pending until new CRM established
5) Investigate hours worked / service demands RB / Leadership team
6) Look at feasibility of a desk based review of roles and responsibilities with the staff forum moderating to develop proposal for Leadership Team and Board NY / JML

We welcome comments and suggestions at any time either through a forum member, to the Staff Forum mailbox or anonymously through the staff forum page on our website using the password 123Staff123.

The next meeting is on the date tbc 2020 where the topic will be Environmental Sustainability.