Death of Chairman David Skinner (April 2017)
It is with great sadness that we report the death of our chairman, David Skinner, on 11th April. He generously gave his knowedge and time to help our jobseekers. His regular presence at our meetings will be sorely missed. We have prepared a book of tributes from volunteers and job seekers for his family - download a copy here (PDF: 0.8Mb).
David trained originally as a chemist, carrying out research into the chemical and physical structure of wool for which he obtained a PhD. He then spent 28 years as an Education Officer in the Royal Air Force, holding a variety of posts in education and training in operational and policy roles. His last role in the RAF role was as head of the resettlement service, managing a group of advisers providing advice and counselling for those people preparing to move into a career in civilian life.
Since 1999 David had been a self-employed independent freelance trainer, specialising in business communication skills, management development and outplacement. He was passionate about the vital importance of written and oral communication skills, and together with his outplacement experience was ideally qualified to help job seekers at Careers Springboard.
Declining Numbers (April 2016)
We are one of the few organisations who are pleased when our members seek to leave us as soon as possible. It has been noticeable from the start of 2016, that we now have fewer regular attendees at our Wednesday meetings. Since the feedback we get (which helps us keep our programme current and relevant) remains highly positive, the decline is a direct reflection of the buoyant state of the job market. Even so, our job seekers tell us that they need to work hard to get a job. Having three or more interviews with one company is not unusual.
We have tweaked the programme in a few ways:
- Interview Skills - owing to local government cut-backs, our successful 2-year co-operation with The Watermill Theatre, where actors did role-play intereviews with job seekers, has come to an end
- However, we have been pleased to accept an offer from Sage UK Ltd to run a termly Interview Skills Workshop. The first one was in March, and there is another one scheduled in our summer programme
- The importance of LinkedIn for job seekers means that this topic is now given more prominence, either through additional mini-sessions or as a complete session in its own right
- Our 'mini-sessions' are not now publicised in the programme. This gives us flexibility to add such sessions at short notice depending on the requirements of the current job seekers.
There has also been some turnover in our volunteers. Due to person reasons (such as moving house or getting a job!) we have lost a couple, but are pleased to welcome two newcomers - Scot Whetton and Frank Rodriguez - on board. Their profiles will shortly be added to our volunteer's page.
Steady Progress (December 2015)
It is now over a year since we moved our venue to Broadway House and things are running smoothly. The number of job seekers has decreased somewhat over the year, representing a generally buoyant job market. So the smaller room together with its lower cost suits us well. Our volunteer numbers are also down, but the half dozen or so regulars, together with our external speakers, keep the show on the road.
We have also produced our first annual report as a Charity for the year April 2014 - March 2015. Some highlights:
- Over the year we ran 40 workshops and 24 mini-sessions
- Since our inception in 2006 as a volunteer-led support group we have helped 768 job seekers
- Thanks to financial support from Greenham Common Trust we ran additional 1-on-1 advice sessions
- In conjunction with The Watermill Theatre's outreach programme job seekers received individual interview practice through role play with an actress. In addition two open workshops advertised to the general public were run.
- During the period we had 9 volunteers who ran the weekly meetings and provided 1-on-1 support to job seekers; in addition, 6 external speakers gave freely of their time to run workshops or mini-sessions.
Two of the 'extras' noted above (additional 1-on-1 sessions and interview practice) have now been discontinued owing to end of programme funding. Like many charities funding day-to-day operations and long-term funding will be an increasing challenge that we face. You can read the full report and accounts at The Charity Commission website:
Settling In (October 2014)
As noted below, over the summer we moved to a new venue (Broadway House) and our meetings now take place on a different day (Wednesdays) and slightly later (1.45pm). We have settled in well, and the meeting room is smaller so suits us well. In fact, the first few sessions had few job seekers and is indicative of the improving state of the wider job market. In fact, several of the job seekers who joined us this term have already found jobs within weeks of starting with us.
The change of day has suited some of our volunteers better, but with several of last year's stalwarts moving out of the area, we would like to increase our overall number. See the volunteers' page for our current vacancies.
Ongoing Support - Same But Different (July 2014)
The take up of new jobs by our job seekers is now at the highest point it has been for several years. This means that on average job seekers are with us for a shorter length of time - good news all round. During the last year several significant changes have taken place. Many of these do not affect job-seekers directly but will enable us to continue to offer our services in a cost-effective way:
- We have changed our venue, meeting day and time. Although the Town Hall has served us very well over the years, we have taken advantage of an opportunity to reduce costs by moving to Broadway House, used by many other local charities and owned by Greenham Common Trust. Details on our programme page.
- Relatively recent volunteer Leonie Cooke is now co-ordinating the induction porocess for newcomers and also arranging the 1-on-1 sessions.
- Careers Springboard West Berkshire became a registered charity in April. Instead of being an unincorporated association we are one of the new legal forms of charity - a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). We hope that this makes it easier to gain grants from Trusts and Foundations. Our contacts page lists the current trustees.
- George Athorn - our chairman since inception in 2006 has resigned; we are grateful to George for all the work he has put in week-in week-out over this period. Appointed in George's place is...
- David Skinner - has taken over as chairman, following his appointment at a Trustees meeting in July 2014
An Improving Job Situation (July 2013)
Although we continue to get a steady flow of 1-2 newcomers every week (yes - companies are still making people redundant), the job market is looking brighter than it has earlier in the year. In several recent weeks we have more job seekers leaving us - having got a job - than we have had newcomers joining us.
The summer months have also seen new volunteers join us. The include Leonie Cooke, who runs some Induction-PLUS sessions, and Viv Miles who offers 1-on-1 support through our JobSkills-PLUS sessions. Their profiles will shortly be added to the volunteers' page.
New Services Up and Running (April 2013)
Thanks to our grant from the European Social Fund (see January news below) we have been able to start two add-on services:
- Induction-PLUS - A recent addition (March 2013) which is an in-depth 1-on-1 session with an advisor, to identify your specific needs and to help you develop a job search plan. Normally there are two sessions - one shortly after joining (ideally the same week) and a follow-up session 4-6 weeks later. These are held on either Tuesday or Thursday.
- JobSkills-PLUS - Quite often during the job search, job seekers find themselves hitting a brick wall or stagnating. These in-depth 1-on-1 sessions with an advisor help you to overcome roadblocks and revitalise your job search activities.
In addition our Interview-PLUS sessions run in partnership with The Watermill theatre are proving very popular. Once a term there is also an open Interview Skills workshop, also open to members of the public. As well as getting tips on posture, body language and psyching yourself up for an interview, they give role-playing practice and feeback in groups of three - the interviewer, the interviewee and observer (who notices points that are often not relaised by the two main participants!). The most recent session on 21st March was the most popular yet. Keep checking out the programme page for details of this and other updates to the published programme (PDF: Apr-Jul 2013).
Update (2014) - the funding for these additional services only lasted until September 2013. However, we now address the issues covered through our ongoing 1-on-1 support sessions (see information for job seekers).
More Help In A Tough Market (January 2013)
In our last news update (April 2012) we foresaw some brighter prospects in the job market. Alas, our thoughts were premature. During the mid-part of 2012 the market seemed as tough as ever. The number of job seekers atending our sessions has held steady at a relatively high level. Well known local firms have had further rounds of redundancy. Despite the general gloom, there are some bright spots in the market, but it does take effort to root them out. This is one reason why we emphasise networking and making direct approaches through referrals, rather than relying on adverts and agencies.
That said, we have noted a slight increase in our job seekers being successful in the last couple of months of 2012 and in this new year. So hopefully 2013 will prove better that 2012 and we can be more confident that our job seekers will not have to wait as long to find a new job. During 2012 we have added some additional services for our job seekers.
We have always supplemented our main Tuesday programme with additional sessions or customised support. Here are three ways in which we have been able to do this in 2012:
- Sushi sessions: these are more in-depth sessions on a particular topic that are run at 3pm on some Tuesdays. Volunteer opportunities and making effective use of LinkedIn have proved popular. New for 2013 is a session on franchising (12 Feb).
- Summer walk-in sessions: started during the depth of the recession, we have continued to offer 'walk-in' sessions during August, when we normally take a break from our main programme. Those who have taken advantage of these have found they can get some good individual attention. It has also helped those made redundant during the summer who would otherwise have had to wait until the start of our Autumn programme.
- Local interview practice thanks to a partnership with The Watermill Theatre and their outreach funding from West Berkshire Council we have been able to offer 1-on-1 interview role playing. Previously our job seekers had to travel to Maidenhead for such training, which had proved increasingly difficult to access due to demand. In the current arrangement job seekers role pay an interview with a Watermill actor/actress which is videoed by a CSWB volunteer. After the role play the video is replayed and their performance critiqued. Everyone who has atended this training has found it extremely beneficial.
We have just been successful in receiving some funding that will enable us to run psychometric tests by one of our volunteers (previously we have relied on the good will of external providers) and give more in-depth 1-on-1 counselling. We have also applied for a European Social Fund grant to improve our induction and 1-on-1 support during the middle part of 2013.
Foundation for Job Seekers
You'll notice that our logo is often seen alongside that of F4Jobseekers. This is the Foundation for Job Seekers, an umbrella charity set up to co-ordinate the activities of the five executive job clubs in our network in the Thames Valley - the others are at Gerrards Cross, Aylesbury, Bracknell and Windsor & Maidenhead. Currently the main shared activities are training and sharing experiences. The Foundation is also the vehicle for distributing grants from the residual funds of the Branshaw Foundation. However, since this pot is finite, we are having to increase our own fund-seeking activities (see below).
Fund Raising and Charity Status
Since our inception in 2006 our legal status has been that of an "unincorpated association". At several times we have considered becoming a charity but have decided that our volunteers' time was better spent delivering our core services rather than dealing with the bureaucracy involved for little perceived benefit. However, two factors have changed our mind:
- A potential source of future is from Trusts and Foundations. Many have as a pre-condition that recipients of grants must be registered charities.
- The introduction - finally - of CIOs (Charitable Incorporated Organisation). This new legal form - sometimes dubbed 'charity lite' is a less bureaucratic form of registered Charity.
Since CIO's were announced in the Charity Act 2006, we have considered them as a good opportunity for us. However, it has taken the powers that be so long to put in place the regulations and procedures. Finally this month (January 2013) registration is now open for smaller groups like ours. We are currently updating our constitution, appointing initial trustees and applying to become a CIO.
Earlier News and Newsletters
You can view earlier newsletters in our archive. Each newsletter contains updates on our work, a job seeker success story and a volunteer profile, as well as a feature on one of our workshop topics:
- Spring 2011 Newsletter: feature on writing applications, new interview service
- Spring 2011 Newsletter: feature on direct approaches, trends, F4jobseekers
- Spring 2010 Newsletter: feature on networking, new supporters, committee changes
- Summer 2009 Newsletter: new volunteers, telephone tips, no summer break
- Spring 2008 Newsletter: our job seekers, feature on CVs, thanks to Town Hall
If you would like to be added to our mailing list for future newsletters please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our earlier news pages are also available:
- News Archive 2011-12: tightening job market, brighter prospects
- News Archive 2009-10: surge in new joiners, light at the end of the tunnel
- News Archive 2007-8: marketing, accreditation
This page last updated 14th April 2016
Important Notice - The information and advice given on this website or by our volunteers is given in good faith. No responsibility whatsoever shall attach to Careers Springboard West Berkshire or any person acting on its behalf for any actions taken by any person acting on this information or advice.