Category Archives: European Projects

Grundtvig Media Addictions Project Questionnaire

Young Girl at School Holding a Computer MousePlease will you help us by completing this Questionnaire (Word Document) (Opens in new window)

We are gathering information for a European project, looking at the problems children might experience with cyber-bullying and over-use or inappropriate use of the internet, and want to know about your concerns as adults and professionals.

Taking just a few minutes to complete and return the Questionnaire will be most valuable to us. Thank you.

Please forward your questionnaire by 30th April to

Keith Stead: Director of The Rickter Company and UK member of the Grundtvig Plan 2.0 Project.

Invitation to participate in our MobAd Questionnaire


The Rickter Company is currently part of a Grundvig Partnership to look at the barriers to people using Mobilities to travel to other European Countries to access learning.

We are currently undertaking a survey and would like to invite you to take part by using this link:

Any participation is anonymous and we would welcome your views and input. Thank you for your participation.

Transfer of Innovation Meeting – Carpi, Italy

TOI Meeting, Feb 2013Keith and Nan attended a meeting for our Leonardo Transfer of Innovation in Carpi, Italy last week. This is our last meeting before we host a conference in Newcastle on the 4th September to share our outcomes. The project is being led by GBB in Germany and partnered by KMOP in Greece and ANS in Italy, as well as ourselves. We received a lot of positive feedback on how the Rickter Scale® is being used in these different countries and cultures, as well as with a variety of client groups.

GBB are working with women returning to work, mainly female immigrants. They are incorporating Rickter into their coaching service to support the process of placements.  They have said that it offers them up a lot of information in a very short period of time. There have been some language barriers, but using the scale makes it easier to communicate. By using the Rickter Scale® the Practitioners have recognised that some migrant women are affected by their culture around religion and their husbands influence. The result being that they find it very difficult to make choices and recognise self-responsibility. However when they are encouraged to Action Plan at review interviews they recognise the movement on the board as a positive outcome. GBB are also offering vocational training to young males and have noticed that whilst normally these young men are very closed to sharing feelings, they do open up when using the Rickter Scale®.  GBB want to continue to use the Rickter Scale® in future.

KMOP are working with people who have long-term mental health issues and learning disabilities. They are supporting them from institutional life into independent living. They too like using the Rickter Scale® and have had positive outcomes with those who are more able.  It again has helped the client group to recognise choice and contribute to changes in their lives. Usually it is the Psychologists and Psychiatrists who do assessments, but one of the Practitioners has stated how useful Rickter is for her to engage with the clients and not have to wait on clinical reports. Rickter is helping her to communicate with and read her clients.  This has increased her confidence in her work role and encouraged her to be a more positive advocate for her clients. KMOP will continue to use Rickter in the future.

ANS are working with immigrants to Italy who would like to become carers for the elderly.  They have to speak Italian and be able to work within the family home, usually living as part of the family group. They have found Rickter most useful for assessing the progress of clients through the Care Course they offer. It is being used to encourage motivation and responsibility around a work/life balance. The clients enjoy using the Rickter Scale® and the one-to-one time it gives them with the Practitioners. There are barriers around their level of Italian and sometimes they have difficulty expressing their feelings in a second language, but the Rickter process helps to make things easier. ANS will continue to use the Rickter Scale® in line with their course, but also as a follow-up to help clients maintain motivation and encourage self reliability. This area was badly affected by the earthquake last year and people had terrible losses to come to terms with. We made the comparison that the Richter Scale measured the seismic change in the area, but the Rickter Scale® measured the change in the people.

The Rickter Company are using data that has been agreed with an existing customer to show comparisons in the UK.

New Media Project

The Rickter Company, along with services from Bulgaria, Romania and Germany recently became a partner in a Grundtvig European Project which is entitled, “Professionalization of pedagogic personnel in adult education for parents critically reflected dealing with media“.

So, I hear you ask yourself what is that all about?

Germany is the lead partner in this project and has developed a model of working with parents to help them become more aware and tackle computer addiction in children. These addictions are around social media sites, gaming etc. The aim of the project is to look at each country and develop a social study on methods and interventions regarding media competence. There will be a website developed to publish the results and a forum to effectively exchange ideas and methods.

The final outcome will be to develop a concept for media education within adult education. Our first meeting was in Luneburg, Germany where we discussed the project and responsibilities of each partner and the outline of work over the next two years.

Bernd Werner

The photograph shows Keith and I with Bernd Werner of Stiftung Medien-and Online Sucht who were our hosts. We were shown around Luneburg Town Hall where we met with the mayor and explained the project and partnership. Our next meeting is in Romania in June 2013 and I will keep you up to date on our progress.

Bulgarian Partnership visit to Newcastle

Keith and I were joined by a great group of people last week from Bulgaria when we spent five days in Newcastle exploring how our project on Sustained Employment would progress.

Bulgarian Project 2There was Elena Kiritsova who is the Chairperson of the Development of Personnel and Human Resources Service in Plevin District.  Elena thought that this project was needed with regard to people making proper career choices with the support and involvement of services and employers.  She said, “We expect to enrich our experience and give a good quality service”.  The expectation is to make this model one that is accepted by government bodies in Bulgaria.

The other partner represented by Chairperson, Penka Spasova is the Original Enterprise Support Centre which represents business members, education organisations, etc in the Plevin municipality.  They offer training and support to business enterprises, employers and those who are unemployed in the region.  Within this work they realise that good skills levels are very important and they would like to encourage self assessment.  Aneliya Rangelova, Silvia Tzvetkova and Aleksandar Krastev also attended and are Psychologists and Professors who teach in universities and also work in various specialist areas; Psychology courses at Plevin University and the Medical University, motivational courses for long term unemployed, primary schools raising pupil self-esteem, police who are suffering ‘burn out’, families at risk, people with chronic conditions such as cancer etc.  The expectations of being part of this project as described by Silvia is, “In a year’s time to have a detailed practical and theoretical course for medical students based on the Rickter Scale® model”.  Rick also came along and shared his development experience of why the Rickter Scale® had come into being and the impact it had even in the early stages, which was a very positive grounding to get us started.

We looked at a Social Survey which they had commissioned in Plevin around assessment and long term unemployed people (those who had not worked for longer than two years), employed people and employers.  They sampled 547 employed individuals, 500 unemployed individuals and conducted 101 employer interviews.  The outcomes were no different to those attitudes and barriers we experience in the UK.  In that, a small majority of unemployed people were optimistic about their future to get work, overcome problems and adapt to changes.  There were however quite a large number who share a pessimism for the future with regard to employment which leads to frustration and depression.  Salary was also identified as a motivational factor, but people didn’t connect salary level to skills and abilities.  It was identified that this  can be a huge barrier to maintaining employment and being realistic about job choices in the first place.  A lot of the individuals interviewed were against assessment.  From the outcome of the discussion we had this is around assessment being done to them, rather than with them. It was also shown that some employers are not enthusiastic about assessment, some feeling it was something dictated to them, especially local authority organisations.  Because we would like to encourage positive outcomes for the individuals it has been decided to approach those employers who are displaying quality standards similar to Investment in People for the time that this project will run.  Ground work will be required with employers to introduce them to the Sustained Employment Model and to demonstrate the advantages of working in this partnership to gain positive outcomes.  As the Job Centre in Plevin is the main source for referrals it has also been decided to do raise awareness of the model with staff there to encourage partnership working.  It was said that our first aim is to, “Open the door” and then build on the foundation to take this way of working forward.

The group were introduced to the Rickter Scale® through completing baseline profiles for themselves on the board, powerpoint presentations and examples of where and how we work.  Theory and practice was defined and a demonstration interview using the Rickter Scale® showed how to engage.  It also made clear the impact the use of the board can have around ownership, raising personal awareness and committing to an achievable action plan.  There was an introduction to the Rickter Impact Management System indicating the reports and outcomes it could evidence for individuals, funders and managers.

We visited Seaham to demonstrate the downfall of industry and the high rise of unemployment, especially in the youth of the area.  Later Jon Clapham, Job Centre Plus came and spoke with the group and gave a very interesting account of the work that he and his team had done in this area among others in working with families.  This is where there were at least two generations of unemployment and benefit claimants.  He said that it was the small things that stopped people moving forward, i.e. money management, social isolation in their own communities etc and because people had, “accepted their lot and didn’t know of any different way of life, that they thought they were okay”.  It had only been when Jon’s team started to work with them that they realised there could be wider choices and perhaps they had higher expectations.  He thought the use of the Rickter Scale® in this work had been invaluable.  The group recognised the similarities of the barriers to employment within their own experiences in Bulgaria.  They thought Jon’s work an excellent example of good practice.  Throughout the week we shared good practice and I used our model of the work done in Belfast to demonstrate positive outcomes.  This I feel is because of what I see are similarities of progression around employment, communities and positive identifications of a country moving forward.

We worked together to define an overlay tailored to this project that could be used to connect with individuals in employment, those unemployed and employers.  Training of the Rickter Process, Action Planning and the IMS will take place in October in Plevin and again will be customised to the specific requirements of this project.

The big question is, how did we communicate?  The answer is, with two very good translators named Stanislav and Milla.  Milla was especially helpful and understood the importance of getting our own Rickter language across.

As it was most of the group’s first time in the UK we had a cultural visit to Durham where everyone was impressed by the cathedral, and some by the fish and chips!  There was also some shopping and pub visits to hear live music after the work was done for the day.  The week went very quickly and by the positive feedback given, we all felt that we have a great foundation established for this model to grow on.  Rick returned on Friday and surprised us with a cake which his daughter had made.

Bulgarian Project 1

It showed the Bulgarian Flag with Rickter to demonstrate our partnership and we also used it to help to celebrate Silvia’s birthday along with some treats from Bulgaria.  A very unique way to finish our time in Newcastle.

Rickter forms Bulgarian Partnership

The Rickter Company has just successfully completed an application with a Bulgarian Organisation named the Development of Personality and Human Communities. Its aim is to conduct activities in the encouragement and development of equality of different social groups: including unemployed, socially-isolated and marginal communities and their integration in the civil society, political and economical life.Bulgaria

The organisation helps with improving social, health and demographic status of the population, development of the labor market, increasing professionalism and the social realization of specific target groups.

The association works for sustainable development at local and regional level and has well-established partnerships within local government, police, institutions, business and media. It develops wide research, information, educational and consultancy activities.

Rickter has previously worked with Penka Spasova who is chairwoman from one NGO – Regional Enterprise Support Centre in Pleven – through our Leonardo Project and formed very positive working relationships with Penka and her colleagues. We were asked to come up with an idea to integrate Rickter into one of the areas they currently work in. Our project, which is just about to start, is about sustained employment and using the Rickter Scale® to measure impact and engage with the Beneficiary, Employer and Employment Service, thus demonstrating full inclusion of the Individual, Employers and Service Providers.

The Rickter IMS will be used to record outcomes and provide evidence reports. The Bulgarian Group are coming to Newcastle in August to start this exciting project and I will be going to Bulgaria in September to deliver training. I will keep you updated of our progress.

Adapting the Rickter Scale Process for marginalized groups moving towards employability

It’s great to report that our Transfer of Innovation Project with 3 European partners is now well and truly underway:

THE PROJECT: Scaling New Heights in VET – Adapting the Rickter Scale® Process to improve and monitor the journey of marginalized groups towards employability.

‘Scaling New Heights’ is a project funded by the European Commission, under the LLP-LDV Transfer of Innovation Programme.

612The central idea of the project is to adapt our Rickter Scale® Process and Impact Management System to the needs of different disadvantaged target beneficiary groups in the 4 participating countries: UK, Germany, Italy and Greece. The adaptation will also ensure that the Process will be both linguistically accurate and culture-specific for the participating organisations and their clients.

The assessment process will help the target beneficiary groups become aware of, and then build on pre-existing skills and attributes that they have previously not been in a position to evidence or validate, and of the distance they have travelled in acquiring their present skill level. This empowerment process can be an enormous confidence boost to them, enhancing both self-esteem and self-worth. It also serves them in accessing the labour market.

The target group for ZIB in Germany is women returners, many of whom are immigrants from Eastern Europe, working towards Vocational Qualifications.

In Greece our partner KMOP is a large NGO, who wants to use Rickter with people who have long-term mental health issues who live in supported accommodation which the organisation also runs.

In Italy, ANS are working with carers of the elderly who currently do not have the required qualifications to be officially recognized in the labour market.

Through the implementation of the Rickter Scale® Process, partner organisations will be able to adapt and improve their existing vocational methods and systems to the increased demands of the job market and ever more complex and diverse needs of their target groups.

During the project Nan wood and Keith Stead will represent the UK as part of the TOI Steering Group, with meetings hosted by each partner in Cologne, Germany, in Athens, Greece and in Carpi, Italy.

Staff of the partner organisations have already been trained and licensed by us in Newcastle as Rickter Scale® Practitioners. Having been introduced to the basic principles and theoretical models behind the Rickter Scale® Process, they trialled the use of the tool between December 2011 and February 2012 using the generic ‘Lifeboard’ Frame of Reference, gaining experience of how to support each individual user in developing an action plan.

At our Follow-up Training back in Newcastle in February, first locally adapted Overlay for the Scale was developed that the partners will now implement in their organisations until this September, when we will again review their feedback, together with an aggregation, analysis and interpretation of all IMS data.

On this basis, the Rickter Scale® Process will be again adapted in line with the experiences and recommendations being fed back from both practitioners and beneficiaries, in turn reflecting the specific needs of the different target beneficiary groups. Final translations will then be made into the partner languages enabling the last phase of implementation to take place.

The final phase of the project will be to publish and disseminate the cumulative findings and outputs of the project, including the holding of an international conference in Newcastle and the release of a Final Evaluation and Project Report.

Nan wins in the Leonardo Photo category of the Ecorys and British Council Your Story Competition

Congratulations to our very own Nan Wood who has been announced as a Highly Commended Prize Winner for her photographic project entry to the Lifelong Learning Programme ‘Your Story‘ Competition.

Leonardo Photo Competition

Leonardo Photo Competition

Nan used photographs from our trips to Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Poland to illustrate our Leonardo Journey over the past 2 years working as part of the ESF Leonardo Lifelong Learning Partnership Project.

You can view Nan’s Story here on the competition website:

Hover on each image to read the accompanying text.

Unfortunately Nan is unable to attend the Prize Awards Event next week due to a previously scheduled work commitment but well done Nan, and congratulations to all the other winners across the three categories.

Rickter’s Two Year European Project Completed

Since August 2009 The Rickter Company has been working with organisations from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Slovakia in an ESF Leonardo Lifelong Learning Partnership Project.

This has now come to an end with only the final dissemination of our work still ongoing.

The project – our first within the Leonardo framework – has been a most worthwhile experience. Nan and I got to grips with the sometimes bizarre quirkiness of Euro-speak, e.g. mobilities, informal and non-formal learning, while loving the opportunity to learn so much about the different approaches to working within vocational training in partner countries, and not least enjoying  the wonderful friendships that have been forged over two years of collaboration.

In fact, so successful have we felt this project to have been, that we are keeping our fingers crossed that by September we shall be embarking on a Transfer of Innovation partnership with our colleagues from Germany, Greece and Italy – the innovation being the Rickter Scale® Process, adapted to be language and culture specific to some of their organisations’ specific client groups. On top of that we have also been invited by our Bulgarian partner to work with them on another ESF exchange project.

ASK Website

So it would seem that 2012 might see a lot more transnational cooperation and development for the company and further indulgence in Bulgarian Mavrud wine (Winston Churchill’s favourite red), German Wurst, Greek Meze and Italian Pasta!

For more information about the actual project work that we have been doing on ‘The assessment and validation of informally and non-formally acquired skills in Vocational Education and Training’, please visit the dedicated website:

Final ASK Meeting, Poland

The final ASK Meeting was held in Rzeszow, Poland by our hosts DC Center which is a private company acting in the field of education and counselling.

ASK_Rzeszow_02aaThe main objective of DC Center is to promote learning throughout life, participate in human resource development in the region and also to operate at national and international level. DC Center conducts research on educational situations, designs training materials and provides consultancy services. Their activities are based on networks of public and private companies, NGOs and local government institutions. They have experience in conducting market research and educational work in multicultural environments.

The role they had in this meeting was to pull together all the partnership feedback and present it before it is added to our final report. The outcome from this feedback was that this experience had been beneficial for all those partners who contributed. The range shown was from improving practice and resources to building communication, language skills and friendships. A lot of people expressed that their knowledge of ESF Practices had been greatly developed and that this is something that they can build on for the future within applications for more innovative projects. The final report was discussed and everyone was asked for their input to allow the German Partners to complete it by the due date.

We went to see a little bit of Rzeszow and had a conducted tour through the underground cellars in the centre of the city. This underground network was used in the Second World War for mainly Jewish people, to hide and escape from the German invasion. We saw examples of everyday things that they had left from cooking pots to a carpentry workshop. There was also evidence of Rzeszow’s history depicted in coats of arms, along with armour and swords from other eras.


The meeting was brought to a close by a final social dinner and then sadly it was time to say goodbye to everyone. We do intend to keep on building these relationships in future work and look forward to keeping in touch with our European Partners.