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R Kelly

At times we have had 60+ apprentices across Bolton at Home and as Barrie Hurst, our Apprentice Co-ordinator is part of the People Development Team, we’re no strangers to the world of apprenticeships, in fact quiet the opposite, we’re mentors, coaches and advocates of this rewarding yet at times challenging world.

We understand why it’s key to invest in the development of others and that’s why one of Barrie’s first questions when a request comes through is “who’s going to provide the support and guidance within your team for an apprentice?”

Recently we began to question why we’d not supported an apprentice within the team and so created the right structure and environment to do just that. Whizz forward a few months and we’re just a few weeks away from Kelly joining the team (we call her R Kelly as we believe she can fly).

Kelly is one of those gems who, whilst she doesn’t credit herself with this attitude she’lll give anything a go, she very quickly builds up an effervescent energy to give it her best shot…what more could we ask for, if you have the right attitude (including the will to fail, learn and keep at it) you can learn anything.

I made it my mission to get Kelly in this mind-set from day one, well I say day one….what I actually mean is three months before she applied for the role. I had delivered a workshop about personal resilience on a mentoring programme that Kelly was enrolled on and was still in the room when the programme lead asked for volunteers to deliver a short presentation at the next session, I’d seen Kelly’s potential so lets say I persuaded/influenced/volunteered (call it what you will) her to give it a go and she did.

Its only been two weeks but it hard to imagine the team without Kelly in as she’s jumped in feet first, I think she’s a fearless lioness but I suspect she would describe herself as the fearful lion from The Wizard of Oz!

When I reflected on the route most apprentice programmes take (theory – practice – theory – practice – etc.) I wanted something different for Kelly, she’s starting a career in supporting others to be their best self and that often means having to take people to the edge of their comfort zones and beyond, I’m a great believer that we should lead by example and create stealth opportunities for others to try experiences that under normal circumstances they would run from. I feel it’s my responsibility to nurture Kelly’s inner lioness so that she feels brave, strong and fearless when she’s faced with challenges.

So what has Kelly been up to in the last two weeks…

She joined the team on a fire walk helping our #BetterTogether partners First Choice Homes Oldham to raise money for mental health – on the way there she innocently quipped “just think this time next year I bet I’ve done things I never would have thought I would” two hours later that thought had been smashed and in addition to networking and raising money we’d experienced our first stealth team building. Remember me saying that Kelly had ‘volunteered’ to deliver a presentation to her mentoring group? Well week one and it was time to prepare for that session, we spent time discussing what she could do, bear in mind that at this stage Kelly has had no formal activity. As a team we’re exploring how drawing and doodling can add to the learners experience and this was an opportunity for Kelly to join that journey with us….Kelly’s reaction….I cant draw! She soon went onto prove herself wrong. I was at a #LeadingGM workshop when I got a twitter notification from Kelly and a picture of a medal she’d received as a token of her effort. I couldn’t help but feel proud of R Kelly. She’d researched her subject, practised, added a mindfulness twist to it and created some handouts… and still no formal training….attitude was her rocket fuel. (I forgot to mention that she’s now mentoring others in the team with her newly discovered doodling skills). I’m currently exploring social learning and leadership and so I’ve introduced Kelly to the world of Twitter, we’ve had some laughs along the way, her first twitter mission was on world book day – raise her profile whilst raising awareness of some of the team resources, I can’t put into words how excited she was to receive a tweet back from an author of one of the books she’d promoted.

I imagine that for some it may look like an apprenticeship in play not work, that’s so not the case, it takes guts and courage to stand up (physically or virtually)in front of others when you feel uncertain yourself. Can you imagine how fantastic she will be when the theory and practice kicks in….

We’ve started a working out loud journey together and it’s exciting to imagine where this will take us. In the words of Buzz Lightyear I think it’s a case of “to infinity and beyond” for our fearless Lioness.

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