Wednesday, 10 November 2010

And The Winner Is . . .

So, this Friday we will find out if we are the winner of the Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council's Envrionment Award. This is an annual award organised by  Neath Port Talbot Environment Forum which "acknowledges the excellent work that is currently being done to improve the environment of Neath Port Talbot and encourage others to take action to improve their environment". It is the first award of this type that we have been nominated for so we are all very nervous. Here is the Award Shortlist for all of the categories and you can see us in Green Business of the Year, against Intertissue and Castle Bingo. The ceremony is this Friday at the lovely Towers Hotel in Jersey Marine, just outside Swansea, so as soon as we know the result, we will let you know!!

Cross your fingers for us!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Listing Success

Herein lies our quandary - how should we define success?? In the 8 months that the scheme has been running we have had 27 people come to us. Throughout this time with us, the questions we ask ourselves are "Are we helping them?" and "Have we been successful?".  In order to try and answer these questions, we asked a young man called Rhys, who has been with us on the scheme since March, to write a list of all the things he has learnt during that time. This is the list he made:

What I have done
1. Sorting out cables and wires
2. Cleaning CRT’s
3. Cleaning TFT’s
4. Sorting out many Printer ink cartridges
5. Collecting data on items e.g. No. Of Printers
6. Compiling tally data into an Excel spreadsheet
7. Logging in number of Printer ink cartridges on to a spreadsheet
8. Cleaning the sink, albeit not very well
9. Cleaning the tea cups, albeit not too well
10. Grading CRT’s
11. Testing and Grading TFT’s
12. Packing TFT’s
13. Logging in of the TFT test data
14. Maintaining the spreadsheet data and keeping it up to date
15. Dismantling Computers
16. Testing out items for Ebay sales
17. Learning to read Voltage
18. Reading and sorting voltages on AC Adaptors
19. Removing used ink cartridges from printers
20. Sweeping the floor
21. Dismantling Laptops
22. Dismantling Servers
23. Dismantling Miscellanea
24. Learning to use tools
25. Keeping my tool box sorted out
26. Cutting Cables
27. Sorting and separating Telephones
28. Finding items to list
29. Correct lifting technique
30. Differentiating different types of circuit boards
31. Making and Printing labels
32. Labelling Pallets
33. Learning to pack boxes
34. Learning to tie a knot, albeit not too well
35. Deciding whether an item is of no use for recycling
36. Recycling
37. Timing my breaks
38. Acclimatising to the use of a bus
39. Creating a new routine
40. Becoming confident enough to come here alone
41. Learning the proportion of my food I should eat during different times of the day
42. Clocking in and out
43. Learning safety precautions
44. Learning how to use the back shutter
45. Learning how to open boxes safely and correctly
46. Removing batteries from Motherboards
47. Learning to use a packing knife
48. Learning to differentiate between different types of cables
49. Being able to eat in front of other people
50. Being able to tell the size of Hard Drive
51. Learning the internal components of a computer
52. Learning to use the tracker pad on a laptop
53. Learning the internal difference between a laptop and a computer
54. Separating different grades of recyclable items
55. Learning how to connect peripherals to a computer
56. Using the plastic wrap

Rhys then took this list and built it into a competency matrix that we will use to assess the progress of all trainees in the future. Many of the skills Rhys listed were exactly what I would have listed if I had done this list. Then I re-read it, in particular numbers 39. Creating a new routine, 40. Becoming confident enough to come here alone, 41. Learning the proportion of my food I should eat during different times of the day and 49. Being able to eat in front of other people. I was flabbergasted! These have nothing to do with what we apparently train them in but to Rhys were massive turning points. Rhys realised and, for us, underlined the importance of 'soft' social skills in the workplace. 'Soft' my arse!! Many of the trainees that come to us are thwarted by these so-called 'soft' skills! There are many and various reasons for this; having no experience of a workplace, anxiety issues, background and conditions such as autism. When the trainees come to us, we are not given any indication or information on their ability to socialise and as such, is something we learn as we get to know each person. This can take a long time as trust is built and confidence developed, between the trainees and staff. With most, some level of connection is made. This is often the point in the placement where astounding leaps forward are made.

So, bearing this in mind, how do you define success? Rhys wrote his list a few weeks before he finished here with us, but If he had written it on his last day, he would have also included 57. Making a cup of tea for myself in front of other people for the first time.

Now, go and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and have a think!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Training at ITAD

Here at ITAD things are expanding and changing. For the last 8 months we have offered a small training scheme in conjunction with WISE (Welsh Initiative for Supported Employment) in Swansea. The scheme is aimed at people with learning difficulties from the local area and gives the chance to learn many new skills in a real workplace.  We have so far had 26 people come to us with all levels of learning issues, from ADHD to Autism to Cerebral Palsy. Most of our placements are people who have been out of work for a long time and some of the younger people have never had experience in a work environment. The target for our scheme is to offer two levels of learning.
  1. For the trainees to learn about the workings of a PC
  2. For the trainees to experience a working environment and all the 'rules' that come with it! 
This scheme was the brainchild of our CEO. One of his main aims for this company is to give people a chance of employment that may otherwise be ignored due to physical or mental health issues. This makes the staff at ITAD an eclectic bunch.12 of 16 members of staff would be recognised as having a disability. As an extension of this philosophy, our CEO decided to set up this training scheme. And this is where I came in. Until 14 months ago my personal experience with ME had me housebound for 7 years - now I work here full time. I was taken on then, for what I am, a fully qualified teacher who no longer wanted to work in schools.

The training starts in the 'training room'. This is a safe place, for the trainees, where they get a lot of support from me and a support worker from the charity we work with. The aim is that the trainee begins his/her sessions in the safety of the training room. During this time, if we think it will be beneficial for the individual, they will also get to work for in our warehouse, but by coming back to the training room they still have a safety net. During their time in the training room they also spend their breaks and lunchtimes with the rest of the staff, so they get to know people in a more relaxed atmosphere, building their confidence with the larger team, which we have found helps them to then progress to the warehouse. The final aim is for the person to then leave the training room fully and spend their remaining sessions working in the warehouse, working as a fully fledged member of our team.

Due to the nature of the learning difficulties of the trainees and the length of time that many of them have been away from work, learning the norms of the workplace is often more harrowing than learning how a PC works - at least the insides of a PC makes more sense!

There are many beautiful things about this course - probably far too many to list here - but one of the main ones is the flexibility we offer. Every placement is different; we listen to the needs of the individual and work with them to reach their goals. For a whole host of reasons, some of the placements will not work in the warehouse but, most will. The trainees that stay in the training room are given advanced tasks that will push them further, just as moving to the warehouse environment provides tasks that stretch the trainees and aims to make them feel good about themselves.

I'd like to just tell you about one of our placements who left us recently. He joined us about 14 weeks ago after having been to many work placements in other companies and each one being finished early as he was deemed “unsuitable”. He has Aspergers syndrome and when he first came in to the training room he could barely look you in the eye, he was so shy and unsure. He did really well in the training room and quite quickly learnt all he could in that particular environment, so we tried him for short portions of time in the warehouse and again he did really well. When we were as sure as possible that it was best for him, we told him he had 'graduated' from the training room and would be spending his remaining sessions in the warehouse. He was SO happy and proud of himself - rightly so. He has spent roughly 7 weeks working in the warehouse and has excelled at every role we have put him in and has constantly asked "What can I learn now?” The highlight of this story came yesterday, however, as he was about to leave I shook his hand and told him to keep in touch. He looked at me, walked forward and flung his arms around me. I couldn't believe it. This was the same person who 14 weeks previously couldn't look you in the eye! I was so overawed I teared up! I was so proud of him, yet at the same time I was also desperately sad for him. He is one of the hardest working, most conscientious people I have ever had the pleasure to work with and we will miss him. In an ideal world we would love to able to offer him employment. As it is we are a small business and simply cannot afford to take on another member of staff at the minute.

Ideally this person would be able to leave here with an excellent recommendation under his belt and go elsewhere and get employment. Sadly this will probably not happen. Why? Because many companies, for whatever reason see disabilities and difficulties and not the person underneath and the value that person could bring to their company.

In spite of this, our scheme has been a real success and we have seen many people become more happy/ confident/ empowered/ capable/ strong/ open, etc, etc, including myself and ITAD Training. Due to this we are hoping to extend the training we offer by first becoming an Agored Cymru/OCN recognised centre and by working with more organisations like WISE to reach more people. The key factor that we are working on and will be one of the roles of our Training Development Manager, is to create relationships with local companies of all sizes to try and ensure that when someone has spent time with us we can call on others to, hopefully, provide employment. Lofty ambition? Heck yes, but you don't change the world by thinking small!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Welcome . . .

. . . to the wonderful world of IT Asset Disposal Ltd!

What, you may ask, is IT Asset Disposal Ltd and how can it help me?? Well, this may not be our first foray in to the world of social media (see our Links page for Twitter and Facebook) but we are shiny new to blogging. Have a look at our static pages, which tell you more about who we are and what we do.

Over the coming weeks and months we'll introduce you to ITAD and give some insider's views on the green industry we work in and the whole business family.

We look forward to giving you regular updates, hearing your opinions and getting to know you.

More soon . . .

Jo and Tom :D