Category Archives: European Projects

Meet ANS: the leading Rickter Associate Organisation in Italy

Marianna and Serena, July 2015

Marianna and Serena, July 2015

I recently travelled back to Carpi in the Modena Provence of Italy to train Serena and Marianna from Anziani e non solo soc. coop (ANS) as Associate Rickter Trainers.

This service works with unemployed migrants, training them as carers for the elderly. In Carpi the care is given in the home of the elderly person, with the carer usually taking up residence.

ANS use Rickter to evaluate the outcomes of their Care Course and to help job-match the individual with the elderly person. We have worked with ANS for several years now through various European Partnerships, building not only professional collaboration but great friendships too.

We spent five days working together on the skills to deliver Rickter Scale® Training and Groupwork Training, as well as learning our Impact and Quality Management Systems.  Each day was about learning and practicing. Marianna and Serena worked very hard and delivered their first day of training in-house to colleagues on Friday of that week and in English, which was no mean feat! They were very professional and competent in their training, with an approachable and informative style. I was very proud to present them with their Associate Trainer Licence, making their organisation the leading Rickter Associate Partner in Italy.

ANS have secured a contract to deliver Rickter Training in Sicily to Employment Advisers who work in government-funded employment services. They have already undertaken the initial Rickter Scale® Training and will return in September for a follow up and to deliver Groupwork Training. The Employment Advisers have worked with Serena and Marianna on developing two overlays, one for young people and one for older people who are long-term unemployed. The Rickter Company has supported them in this process, offering advice around the structure of the questions and the possible flow of the interview. These overlays are designed to engage with the individuals and to evidence the outcomes of the service.

I was made to feel very welcome by everyone during my visit and had the honour of being invited into people’s homes for dinner. I enjoyed trying new foods, one of them being Balsamic Ice Cream which was gorgeous. Carpi is of course famous for its production of Balsamic Vinegar. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with everyone in ANS and seeing Carpi again, which is a beautiful town. There was only one down side – Tiger Mosquitoes love Scottish blood!

European Centre for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Conference

Building a picture of achievement

Building a picture of personal achievement

The final conference for our Bulgarian partnership with the European Centre for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship took place in Plevin. The project aim was to support 300 young people into employment over a twelve month period by conducting three Rickter Scale Interviews, two on-line consultations and giving access to on-line resources with regard to building job preparation skills.

The outcome is that practitioners have engaged with over 300 young people and have supported 48% into employment.

The conference audience was made up of some of the young people who had participated, employers, professionals and representatives from the Labour Bureau.

Elena Todorova Ivanova-Kiritsova, Personal and Human Communities Development Association opened the conference and explained the aims of the project, Penka Spasova, Chairperson of RESC Pleven talked about the need for this type of work, Keith Stead, The Rickter Company spoke about the outcomes that were evidenced through using Rickter and the IMS, and Nan Wood, The Rickter Company talked about the training and input that we had with regard to reviewing and verifying best practice.

There was a display of coloured boxes with words written on them such as; confidence, motivation, success etc and after each person spoke; including the young people and some of the practitioners, they were asked to select a box that represented what they had gained from the project and they were constructed to offer up a physical picture of what had been achieved.

The conference was a huge success, with everyone involved delighted by the outcomes.

Farewell MobAd!

MobAd Project, Final Meeting _Cyprus 2014

MobAd Project, Final Meeting _Cyprus 2014

Cyprus in July and a heatwave greets us. As we arrive in Nicosia – or Lefcosia as the locals know it –the temperature is already 40° C, and set to rise over the next few days to 45.8°, and that is hot!

Along with our partners from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, we have gathered for the very last meeting of the Grundtvig project ‘Mobility Advising: a way to stimulate motivation for mobility among adult learners’.

After two years of working together on the MobAd project, it is clear that there are a number of ways in which this work can be sustained and further developed.

There is a strong feeling among the partners that mobility is a very important topic and one that could be pursued over a number of EU projects.
The main aim of this current project was to increase the number of learning mobilities undertaken between EU states, first and foremost by providing well trained staff in educational organisations acting as ‘mobility advisors’ to young and adult learners. This is a role without a specific standardised or recognised qualification, and with varying descriptions of what responsibilities it carries. By taking part in international mobility programmes delivered by these specially trained Mobility Advisors, more learners would improve their key competences and skills and thus increase their own employability, and consequently gain improved access to the labour market.

So, while sustainability can be achieved for the MobAd project in the usual way, by exploiting as many ways of disseminating our work as possible, for us that is a given. In addition, we want to take forward our work more formally, by applying for two further projects under the new Erasmus+ Programme.
One of these will be to continue the development of an accredited online course for Mobility Advisors, and the second will be to turn our attention to work we did at the start of the MobAd project in our Survey on the Barriers to Mobility. Our intention is to take this strand of the mobility process and working with young people themselves, investigate in detail how they can be better engaged, informed and motivated to participate in European mobility programmes, not only gaining vital knowledge and skills, but progress in their journey towards employability, specific job readiness, and more generally for opportunity readiness. And of course this would include the introduction of the Rickter Scale Process!

It quickly became evident that there is great variation between the participating countries in how mobilities for young people are perceived outside each country’s borders, the information that is available, the preparation for the mobility itself, the way in which the mobilities are organised and evaluated, and who in fact are the experts in this field. Particularly after completing this project, there is clearly a lot more work to be done.
It is also highly significant that the ‘Special Eurobarometer 417’, coordinated by the European Commission and only published in June 2014, records statistics about poor levels of information about mobility and even poorer figures for actual engagement. This is particularly true of the UK, where European mobilities for young people are hardly promoted at all. Even the word ‘mobilities’ is very rarely heard or understood in the UK!
It is situations like this that continue motivate the MobAd team and in particular the Rickter Company to ensure both the sustainability of the project, and its effective development in the future.

Keith Stead, CEO – The Rickter Company Ltd

Austrian Conference sees the completion of Grundtvig Media Addiction Project

Final Meeting

In May Keith and Nan, accompanied by four Rickter Company Associates attended the final conference for our Plan 2 Grundtvig Learning Partnership in Austria. This project has been about raising awareness of parents, teachers and professionals to the risks children face from computer gaming, social media and cyber-bullying.

The lead partner is the Foundation for Media and Online Addiction, Lunenburg, Germany who have developed LAN-Parties. This is a programme designed to work with parents and professionals to raise awareness of how children feel while using computer games and the risks involved in social media. They work through schools to reach their target groups of pupils, teachers and parents.

One of the other partners is the Romanian German Foundation, Timisoara, Romania. This is a vocational college working mainly with unemployed people to gain skills and qualifications in such things as heating engineering, plumbing, English Language etc.

Our partner hosts for this event were FAB in Linz who are the largest vocational college in Austria. They run a variety of courses and specialise in support for people with disabilities. The conference was held in their college and we were shown the workshops that employ disabled people and had a chance to observe their work. They have partnerships with Nestlé to supply packed goods and an Engineering Contract where they make machine parts. They also have a catering kitchen and run the college canteen, as well as a print office, cabinet makers, laundry, gardening and construction areas. These workshops can be used as a training base which up-skill people to move into open employment or the trainees, who are paid a living wage and can work there for as long as they wish.

The aim of the conference was to share our work with other professionals and political representatives. The event was well attended with representatives from all four countries, as well as many professionals from Linz. After being welcomed by our hosts there followed presentations and workshops.

Meral Akin-Hecke, Digital Champion Austria of the European Union spoke on “Competence instead of Fear” looking at why it is important to overcome the digital gap. Patricia Groib, Safer Surfing, Linz talked on, “Control versus Competence and Arnhild Zorr-Werner, Foundation Media and Online Addiction, Lunenburg, topic was “In the past everything was easier and nowadays does new media need new education?” There were also several workshops afterwards and an Information Zone where Rickter was represented. The conference was well received and successfully raised awareness of the subject matter for those attending. We are very grateful to our friends in Linz for organising this event and hosting it so wonderfully.

While in Linz our hosts took us to the Museum of the Future which is shaped like a ship and is situated right next to the River Danube. Here we saw the history of computing, work on cloning plants and animals, how plastics can be computer generated into working objects and the fantastic three dimensional space zone. A small yellow motorised train took us around Linz to give us a taste of the city and in the evening we attended a social dinner back at the museum in their Cubas Restaurant, which offered wonderful food and views of Linz.

Nan Wood
Director of Operations

MobAd: Motivation for mobility among adult learners

DSCF8607The Rickter Company is involved in a European Grundtvig Project which is looking at the role of a Mobility Adviser. This is a person who would advise on learning mobilities for students, encouraging them to travel to different countries to access courses, qualifications and to build confidence and experience.

We have already explored the barriers that prevent people from taking up mobility opportunities. These would include; family responsibilities, different food, being alone in a strange country and not speaking the language.

Keith and Nan travelled to Poznan in Poland to meet with our other partners from Germany, Cyprus, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania. Our partners in Poznan hosted this meeting and looked after us incredibly well.

We are in the process of outlining a profile of the skills and expertise required by a Mobility Adviser to enable them to engage with people and to fulfil this role to the best of their ability. Through an earlier poll in all the partnership countries we discovered that the UK has the least knowledge and use of mobilities.

Our partner in Lithuania shared their vast experience of working with young people and encouraging them to engage in the mobilities programmes. They say as well as any qualifications gained, the changes in confidence and motivation when these young people return is vast.

We were lucky enough to have a little time to visit the historical parts of Poznan and view their beautiful cathedral and the Castle of Kόrnik, before flying home.

Project update: Grundtvig Learning Partnership (MobAd). Creating the MobAd Manual.

On 12 January, we welcomed our European partners from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, and Poland to a meeting of the Grundtvig Learning Partnership Project (MobAd), held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Unfortunately on this occasion our colleagues from Romania were unable to join us.

The partnership is an EU-funded Grundtvig Project called ‘Mobility Advising: – a way to stimulate motivation for Mobility among adult learners’. This was our fifth such meeting, with two further meetings scheduled for March in Romania and June in Cyprus.

Our meetings this time revolved around the development of the course Manual for a new skill-set to be offered to those already helping individuals make career choices or simply wanting to look at their options for further work experience or training. When people do this outside their own countries, the practice is known in Euro-speak as a ‘mobility’. We want to encourage Careers Advisors to become more informed about such opportunities by taking a specific course in Mobility Advising. Results from a survey which we carried out demonstrate the greatest need for such knowledge and skills is required right here in the UK, where the word ‘mobility’ is usually preceded by ‘shop’ or followed by ‘scooter’.

The MobAd Manual will in fact be the core product of the learning partnership. There will be four sections: “Information – Motivation – Organisation – Assessment and Evaluation” – with each chapter giving answers to frequently asked questions, such as:

  • How do I become a Mobility Adviser?
  • How do I successfully motivate people to help overcome any barriers they might have?
  • How do I evaluate the mobility process, and
  • How do I monitor the progress of the individual’s mobility?

We also spent time together taking a guided tour of historic Newcastle and enjoying a tasty social dinner in a city centre restaurant. Looking forward to meeting again in Iasi, Romania.

European Media Addiction Project visits Newcastle

Boy Playing a Video Game

This week sees the Rickter Company playing host to our partners in our Plan 2.0 Project which is working with parents to help them identify the risks their children face of cyber-bullying and addiction to computer games and social media.

Partners from Germany, Romania and Austria will join us in Newcastle where we will be looking at an adaptation of a model of work called “LAN Party” which has been developed in Germany.

Within this meeting we will also be discussing youth protection and we will have a presentation from Nathalie Noret, Senior Lecturer from the University of York St John and a leading researcher and speaker on cyber-bullying. We also plan to take our visitors on a walking trip around Newcastle, visiting the castle and other places of interest.

TOI ‘Scaling New Heights’ Conference | September 4th, 2013

SNH 03 NW

The conference was hosted by Northumbria University in the Great Hall of the Sutherland Building. In excess of 50 people attended from a variety of public, private and third sector organisations. The conference was moderated by Professor Andrea Fleschenberg PhD, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan who did a wonderful job of keeping everyone on task and on time.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor George Pattison welcomed everyone and shared his thoughts on how important this type of European work is for people who are struggling due to long term unemployment, and identifying some areas within his own constituency as a local councillor where the use of the Rickter Process would be particularly useful. 

SNH 05 - Prof Andrea Fleschenberg_ Sherrif & Deputy Lord Mayor George Pattison

Nan Wood, Director of Operations, The Rickter Company spoke about the background of the Rickter Scale® which is the innovation being transferred in this project. She explained the process of using the board, giving examples of good practice in the UK and described the transition the partner organisations had made from working together on a previous Leonardo Project to this Transfer of Innovation, ‘Scaling New Heights’.

SNH 08 session

Keith Stead, CEO, The Rickter Company then presented the outcomes of the project highlighting all of the hard work and dedication of the Partners. The main areas presented looked at the distance travelled towards goals for each country and the challenges that each client group faced. It was interesting to note that the barriers to employment faced by clients in Germany, Greece and Italy were no different to those in the United Kingdom.

SNH 15 - Aristea Liarokapi, Antonia Torrens, Marina Zotaki, Eleni Koulosousa

The afternoon sessions started with a video of the May 2012 earthquake in the Carpi region of Italy, which hugely affected the people who were taking part in the project, both as practitioners and as clients. It was noted that where the Richter Scale measured the impact on the ground that day, the Rickter Scale® measured the impact it had on the people.

SNH 02 - Serena DAngelo, Licia Boccaletti

SNH020 session

We then moved on to participate in an ‘Information Carousel’ where each country had their own stand in the room and the audience, who had been divided into four groups, visited each one for 15 minutes and then moved on – speed dating with a difference! It offered the audience an opportunity to hear first hand from each partner country their experiences and outcomes of using the Rickter Scale®. This was very well received and was one of the highlights of the conference.

SNH021 session

 

SNH023 sessionProfessor Andrea Fleschenberg then hosted a Talk Show to share good practice where set questions were asked of the guests: Jon Clapham, Dept of Work and Pensions; Mick Carey, Careers Europe and Kushwanth Koya, Northumbria University.

SNH024 session

This was followed by the Keynote Speaker, Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE who talked about the importance of measuring soft indicators and shared some of the report she has recently presented to Government Ministers through the National Careers Council entitled, “An Aspirational Nation” and its objective as Dr Hughes described it of “a career for life”.

SNH026 Dr Deirdre Hughes_NW_RH

The conference came to a close with representatives from each country sharing their personal experiences of the project.

SNH 04 - Alfons Müller Rita Neidhardt

Everyone felt that the partnership had worked particularly well and Alfons Muller, ZIB, Germany who is the Project Coordinator, expressed his gratitude for the dedication of all the partners and remarked on how much everyone has gained professionally, personally and culturally from this Transfer of Innovation.

SNH 14 - Keith  Licia Boccaletti - Alfons Müller  Aristea Liarokap

Some examples of feedback we have received since the Conference:

“I enjoyed hearing about the Scaling New Heights project and that we are all encountering similar issues, whether we are in the UK or elsewhere”.

“Just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to hear what you and the team have been up to here and across Europe. It was a fascinating conference day… loads of information and simply inspirational (as things with the Rickter Scale® tend to be)”.

First of all just to say I thought the day went exceptionally well last week – especially the carousel – feedback was clear, well presented and very positive, big well done!”

Measuring Earthquakes

Rickter Scale Board with OverlaysThe 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit at around 4am local time on Sunday, 20 May 2012, in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy between the historic cities of Bologna, Modena and Ferrara. Within that triangle lies the town of Carpi, the home of our partner organisation Anziani e Non Solo.

The quake was almost as powerful as one which devastated the central region of Abruzzo in 2009, killing more than 300 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

Although there were far fewer casualties from Sunday’s earthquake, it was felt as far away as Venice, the German-speaking South Tyrol region of far northern Italy and the Friuli region on the border with Slovenia.

Thousands of panic-stricken residents ran out into the streets in their nightclothes, as statues crashed down from centuries-old palazzi and the roofs of churches collapsed.

The ministry of cultural heritage in Rome said damage to historic buildings and the artistic treasures they contained was “significant”.

Emilia Romagna is renowned for its balsamic vinegar and prosciutto ham, and the region’s culinary icons did not escape damage either. The balsamic vinegar loft that we had visited in Carpi only months earlier was destroyed.

Enzo Boschi, a reputed seismologist, said it was the biggest earthquake to have hit the region for centuries. And as experts warned of the dangers of aftershocks, a strong new quake of 5.1 on the Richter Scale hit the region in the afternoon, with further aftershocks following for several days.

(Acknowledgement for some of the above to Nick Squires: The Telegraph – online, 20 May 2012)

We have always said that like the Richter Scale that measures movement in the earth, our own Rickter Scale® measures movement in people. In this instance, by using the Rickter Scale® it was also possible to measure the impact that the earthquake had on the people of Carpi – at least those who were the clients of Anziani e Non Solo.

Our partner’s headquarters and training facilities were so damaged, and their activities so badly disrupted that no client interviews could take place for three months. However, once the Rickter Scale® interviews resumed, it became apparent just how much the May 20th earthquake had impacted on the lives of ordinary people.

The Rickter Scale® does not only measure how people reflect the circumstances of their lives by simply scaling those responses from zero to ten. For each scaling, the individual is recording precisely how they are thinking and how they are feeling about their own personal experiences, and by that means they tell their life’s story.

And so in the months following the earthquake, the team of practitioners at Anziani e Non Solo were learning exactly how much their clients had been in a heightened state of stress, how they felt altogether more vulnerable and anxious, not only in terms of fearing more aftershocks, but in their personal lives, economically and socially.

On the Richter Scale, the earthquake had measured 6.0. On the Rickter Scale® that same event had subsequently been recorded as having a far reaching and highly significant impact that touched every part of every individual’s life who experienced it. Even client’s responses to the employability questions which were part of our Transfer of Innovation project – each client’s quantitative scalings and qualitative narrative interpretation, clearly show how the people of Carpi were affected.

The Rickter Scale® Process does not only record the individual’s present state, but offers the opportunity to make informed choices and take responsibility for setting goals and agreeing action plans for the future. It may just be, as a result of the partnership being caught up in this devastating event, that together we can develop a new Frame of Reference – a specific set of cue questions that can be put to those who find their world turned upside down by similar disasters anywhere in the world: an adaptation of the Rickter Scale® Process that could effectively help to lay the foundations for rebuilding the lives of both individuals and communities: a means of creating hope and determination out of tragedy.

Positive Outcomes from the Bulgaria Conference

HPIM1174.JPG

Keith and I returned to Plevin, Bulgaria for the Sustained Employment Project conference on the 8th July.  We were given a very warm welcome by Elena Ivanova-Kiritsova and Penka Spasova who have been managing the project and also by the Practitioners who have been doing all of the interviews. Over the past year we have built up wonderful friendships with this group of very professional people. The conference was well attended by representatives from various partner agencies and government departments.

When originally developed the Sustained Employment Model was to look at how we could support unemployed people by using the Rickter Scale® to access training and employment. For those who were employed it would be used to help them maintain and grow within their work situation. With this in mind 650 people were interviewed; 300 unemployed, 300 employed and 50 employers. This work was undertaken by 10 Practitioners, expertly managed by Elena and Ira Nikolova. The role of the Rickter Company was to train these experts and help them develop a dedicated overlay of questions to engage with clients and evidence the work being done. The group met in Newcastle for a consultation and introduction to the model and later were trained in Plevin.

BG Trg Group

The Practitioners had to find the people to participate in the project and then conduct the initial interview and review interviews, all within a period of five months. The Rickter Company monitored the practice of these experts. The outcomes from the interviews have been excellent and the Practitioners stood up at the conference and gave their feedback of the impact that it had on people’s lives and a few case studies of their experiences in using the Rickter Scale®. Identifying choice was one area that stood out as being an important factor for some of the unemployed people and for employers it was raising awareness of the importance of supporting and valuing staff. One unemployed person who had been supported by the project gave very positive feedback on his experience of being on the receiving end of the Rickter Board. 

We were interviewed by the press before the conference, as this model is being used to feed back results to the Department of Labour and is an important and innovative way of working that has never been used in Bulgaria before.

Keith gave an informed presentation on the outcome of the final report and I talked about the positive work of everyone involved and gave examples of where Rickter is being used in different arenas within our work in the UK and other parts of Europe.  At this point I must say that had it not been for our expert translator, Kalina Ilieva perhaps things might not have gone so smoothly! Elena and Penka spoke of the importance of the outcomes of using Rickter and the impact it was having on the people of Plevin; 14% of the participants who were unemployed have gained employment.  Elena also spoke about how this model could have an impact on the whole of Bulgaria and the way people in services work.

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This project has been such a success that we have been invited to participate in a new one starting in August that will see Rickter offered to young people to gain entrepreneurial skills.

You can read the final Project Report here

Nan Wood, Director of Operations