John Hitchin was on leave last week so Marie Nichols, Senior Service Support and Development Manager, takes on week notes.

This week has flown by in a blur of grant audits, office move prep and generally catching up following a week’s holiday in Yorkshire. It was fantastic to be in different surroundings after so long in lockdown and I was surprised at how easy it was to social distance and still enjoy ourselves. I hadn’t realised how much I needed a break from work. Note to self: follow my own advice to staff and book in regular breaks and time off. Even while travel opportunities are limited proper breaks are still very much needed.

Lot’s happening at Renaisi

My first task on returning to work was to audit lots of grant documents for our RISE (Refugees Into Sustainable Employment) service, which requires an eagle eye and concentration. Quite a struggle with holiday brain but I managed it because the team had done a great job of getting all the evidence together in preparation for me to audit it.

The next big thing on my list is getting up to speed with a forthcoming office move. The pressure is on with some tight deadlines to work towards, but again it’s down to the project team we have in place that makes me confident we’ll be fine, despite the mountains of paperwork to sort through before we move. I long for the day when we might become a paperless society – except for literature; books are meant to be read the traditional way and preferably have a bit of a musty smell!

There’s lots happening across Renaisi at the moment. We’re recruiting and have some exciting new roles in the pipeline, as well as some really interesting business development activities in play. Our good fortune is not lost on me, given the number of organisations that are currently struggling, but we hope that some of our new work will help other organisations by building more partnerships during these uncertain times.

Supporting participants

COVID-19 has been at the forefront of all our minds but back at work I’m reminded, through conversations with frontline colleagues, how much some of our employment service participants are struggling with other issues. Access to money and secure housing, language, health issues and discrimination in multiple forms, are just some of the issues our customers face before even being able to think about looking for a job in this very dreary climate. If you’ve ever tried to support someone with a housing, benefits, or right-to-work application you’ll understand how frustrating it can be for the people on our programmes, and my colleagues trying to support them.

The team are doing a fantastic job, considering access to services is still limited, but these conversations bring home to me – once again – how far we still have to go in getting it right for people experiencing disadvantages, as an organisation but more so as a society.

Reading, listening and watching

One thing I miss about my usual train commute is the time it gives me to listen to podcasts, new music and do some reading. Something I haven’t really made time for recently. I ask Alexa to play various radio stations in the background while I’m working and try to balance new technology with old by using my record player a bit more. This week’s listens have included Kate Bush, Meatloaf, Nick Cave, Doris Day, Radical Face and Future Islands – a very eclectic mix and something I’m not embarrassed about one bit!

Marie Nichols