Waking up on Wednesday 21st June, I was treated to the unusual sight of a tent wall inches from my face, a perplexing experience one gets as a result of camping – or ‘glamping’ as the posh campers like to call it.
Myself and my Talent Match partners in crime had made it through the night without an attack by bears (my knowledge of wildlife continues to elude me, the only animal we came across was a very excitable dog.)
We reconvened at the giant tent or as I have come to call it, The House with No Walls where we picked up breakfast baps before the coaches arrived to cart us off to our next destinations.
We enjoyed a pleasant ride in the coach (probably helped by being seated next to an open window), once again taking in the vast fields and meadows and appreciating the beautiful scenery. Our stop – Option 4 – was a little closer to home, located – some might consider hidden – in one of the town centres. When you’re travelling long distances, sometimes you need a recognizable brand to give you that level of familiarity, to remind you you’re not cut off from civilization… granted, I never thought I’d be glad to see a Dunelm outside of mattress shopping, but travelling does crazy things to you.
We pulled up at our destination and greeted the great minds behind Pluss.
Pluss is an employment service that works with people with disabilities and supports them into work through various enterprises such as workshops in developing transferable skills and working with employers in the Cornwall community to create opportunities for their clients. Leading the charge for the visit was one of Pluss’ illustrious leaders, Karen Bray, who treated us to a warm greeting and a mini-buffet. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen water to be in such high demand.
But this was more than just a social visit. Myself and Alex George had been invited to give a presentation on the work Hidden Talent was doing in Leicester. It was our responsibility to shine a light on Leicester, to demonstrate the unspoken drive of the young people to attain more than the hand they’re dealt, to show employers that they have so much to offer…
…of course when you only have 15 minutes to say all of this, you can only get so many pointers in. We spoke about our ‘backwards’ approach – working on identifying support for the traits as opposed to the conditions – what kind of ambitions we had for the project in the long run, and of course, damning the word ‘disability’ and its widespread ignorance to the talents of people with hidden conditions.
Alex also had the chance to discuss his story, speaking about how he had struggled to adapt in the workplace environment and how he had struggled with that seemingly ever-changing machine that was supposed to be routine. Of course, I believe that the fact that Alex was up there speaking with such articulation about himself and showing himself for the capable young man that he is was a positive sign of hope for the audience…
…like the Mockingjay symbol from the Hunger Games. Only without the whistling. We’ll probably never master that one.
The audience responded positively to our presentation, citing it as ‘inspirational’, a positive sign of what people such as Alex and myself are capable of. This led into a pleasant discussion between Pluss and Talent Match as to how we could make the application process more applicable for young people, and more specifically, those with hidden conditions. We suggested using bullet points to illustrate the responsibilities of a role, being a bit more lenient on the requirements, especially the experience, and most importantly, not styling it so it looks like it’s been plucked out of Leo Tolstoy’s library. Seriously, this is why thesauruses are in such high demand(!)
We found our visit to Pluss to be a productive and enjoyable one. I’ve always wondered what form Hidden Talent could take in the future, and looking Pluss with its community links and catered support, I wouldn’t mind if it looked anything like that.
We boarded the coach for the final event of the day, bringing all visiting Talent Matchs together again. That is when I saw perhaps the most heavenly sight I’d ever seen in my life, one that I will always be grateful for and will inspire me in the future…
…A PLUG SOCKET! Seriously, there could have been a choir playing hallelujah in the background. I plugged in my tablet and took my seat as the final event began.
The big subject on everyone’s lips was, of course, legacy, and how we could maintain aspects of Talent Match after its closure. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again until I’m blue in the face, we need more time on that front.
One shining source of inspiration took to the stage in the form of Talent Match Humber, lead by PADD’s Angel Forsyth, Adam Pinder and Jemma Genter. They had been working closely with Nadia Bashir of Sheffield Hallam University to put together a package for support, carrying out their own research into how to make job applications more applicable, how to support both the young people in the roles and the employers with a finely-tuned toolkit. It was riveting stuff that Angel, Adam and Jemma were putting together and a testament to PADD for contributing to the longevity of a new source of support.
Finally, we were put into groups to discuss what kind of activities we would like to see continued post-Talent Match. Obviously, Hidden Talent is up there with one of them.
But we only had so much time to discuss the notion because our coach was due and since none of us fancied a 2-day trek to Leicester, we had to depart for the 6-hour journey home.
Now, some remnants of my sanity may have been lost on the coach, but the fact that I’m writing this now should assure you that we made it home in one piece without turning on each other a la Lord of the Flies.
Overall, an exahausting end to a great 3 days. We’ve mingled with fellow Talent Match communities, we’ve shared ideas, and we got to enjoy a mini-holiday of sorts in Cornwall. Cheers to everyone from TM Leicestershire. If I was ever going to end up in a field with no charger, I’m glad it was with you lot. You are what makes Talent Match great and I’m proud to have shared those days with such a magnificent group of innovators and entrepreneurs. And a big thank you to our coach driver who took us on the tireless trek to Cornwall and back. We are in your debt, sir.
And best of all, I managed to make it through those days with limited Wifi without turning into Gollum. I would have thought I’d last 3 hours before I start muttering, “Myyy ppprrecccioussss…”
For more information about Pluss and their inspirational mission, check out their official website at www.pluss.org.uk