Being a part of Talent Match offers you many opportunities; the chance to find your ideal job, to improve your skillset, to gain a sense of purpose and self-fulfillment…
…I never imagined roasting like a human barbecue would be one of them.
Talent Match was organizing a national trip with members from various Talent Matches across the UK coming together in Cornwall. And Talent Match Leicestershire were invited to partake on the Cornish festivities… and do some work over there of course. So it was a holiday without the tanning and R&R.
We met at the Prince’s Trust office in Leicester on 19th June 2017, embarking on a 6-hour coach journey (for the sake of the word count, and my own sanity, I shall keep the description, unlike the journey, brief).
We arrived at the China Fleet Country Club, a luxurious spa where we all enjoyed a bit of R&R and ate like kings… or 20 year-olds enjoying food that hadn’t come from a Tesco or Sainsbury’s.
The tour officially commenced at the club in an introduction that saw the audience work together to answer many of the questions put to them, many of them concerning the elephant in the room we know by the name, ‘legacy’, and what kind we want to leave when Talent Match finishes in December 2018. We also pin-balled a few notions off each other about what good work looks like to each of us, generating a lot of strong opinions such as “work should be about taking advantage of opportunities and challenges” and “there needs to be more leniency to the application process”, and “everyone needs more specific types of support.” We had some fantastic input from our innovative TM trio of Mark, Shan, and Paula, who made some insightful remarks about the need to offer a more stable, yet flexible working life to young people.
Following the intro, all group members were scattering throughout Cornwall to various opportunities, I was listed for Option 4. It was very much the whole ‘divide and conquer’ strategy… albeit without the conquering.
Everyone was dressed in T-shirts and shorts, but I, being the uncompromising stickler for routine that I am, was dressed in my usual attire; purple shirt, navy jeans and black boots… setting myself up for wearing the equivalent of a very dandy oven.
We travelled on a coach for an hour, giving us all an opportunity to take in Cornwall’s idyllic fields and lush surroundings, surrounded by an ocean of green that felt like it could go on for miles. It made me yearn to live in such a tranquil place, but I couldn’t help but wonder how I, a man who was overly dependent on technology – could possibly survive in such an environment without my laptop.
Little did I know that I would be finding out the answer sooner than I thought…
We finally arrived at our first destination, the Eden Project, a botanical garden containing a large rainforest, described by one of the staff as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ (sorry, King Kong).
During this time, Talent Match Cornwall spoke about their successful apprenticeship schemes they were using and how they had successfully partnered with employers to deliver diverse training, including a range of areas throughout the first year followed by a choice of options for the second year. The apprenticeships were primarily in Horticulture and Hospitality, befitting to Cornwall’s most prominent trades.
After that brief, but insightful trip to Eden, we set off for our next destination; Pentreath, an organization focused on supporting people struggling with mental health. Although not necessarily a clinical service, Pentreath had had a lot of success with getting people into either education or employment. One thing that particularly stuck with me was how the team leader stated they had taken young people and helping them on a journey from being a patient to becoming a student. They engaged clients through a range of activities, and sometimes it wasn’t even about having a goal in mind, it was just about giving them that extra pillar of support and reminding them that they were not alone.
Pentreth had had £12 million invested in delivery from organizations such as NHS and other funding partners, and because of the successes they had had with moving people into education, employment with a unique and underlining therapeutic approach, they had saved £51-68 million in Cornwall, proving its social value.
The visit gave us the chance to talk amongst ourselves about what we consider to be three pivotal pillars for mental health, such as understanding how poor mental health can arise, with Pentreath maintaining links with diverse communities such as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, channeling their support where appropriate. A magnificent display of support to the community, and a major lesson for me about mental health and the contrasts with hidden conditions.
Of course, I had imagined that the day would end where we would be dropped off at a Travel Lodge where I could recap the day and go over what I had learned, right?
This is why I wish I was gifted with foresight.
Along the way, we turned into what appeared to be endless fields with a large tent and living accommodations set up. And I was asked if I needed help finding my tent.
And then it hit me. We were staying in the tents overnight as part of ‘glamping’, which is considered ‘posh camping’ if you will. Funnily enough, I had heard the term ‘glamping’ before, but for some perplexing and inane reason that escapes me, assumed it meant banging your chests against one another as part of some youthful ritual.
Yes, I am that out of touch with today’s culture.
I also discovered that there were no sockets throughout the camp, which meant that for the most part, I was technologically castrated. I did manage to get hold of a socket later on that evening from a visiting band.
Try to imagine me running around the sides of the tent, computer bag in hand sneaking to the sockets with the Mission Impossible music playing in the background… Seriously, it felt like a matter of life or death… or in the computer’s case, battery flat.
However, I found that I didn’t need my phone or tablet to have a good time. I enjoyed the company of my Talent Match friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. We ended the evening sat around the campfire, trading stories and adventurers like the travelers of old…
…basically talking about embarrassing stories from our childhoods.
As I made my way to my tent, my strength well and truly sapped, only one last request shot through my mind…
…please don’t let me get stuck with a snorer.
To be continued…
If you’d like to learn more about the game-changing work being down by the Eden Project and Pentreath, check out their official websites below:
The Eden Project: www.edenproject.com