Our hoodies avoid “lanyard fear”

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Our trip last night to Facebook saw quite an interest in our hoodies. We turned up on mass sporting our blue branded tops and today at the Tinder Foundation conference we will be wearing our black ones.

Our investment in workwear came about in the summer and although it now means that we don’t have to worry about what to wear when going to work, there is a lot more thought and reasoning behind the move.

As community and voluntary organisations in Stockport have seen dramatic cuts from council funding, comments were made to our team that we were the lucky ones. Having purposely avoided looking for local authority funding in the past, we were regarded as immune to the changes. This was, obviously, never going to be the case. As organisations such as Mind saw their funding slashed resulting in job losses, we began to see an influx in customers presenting different needs. As we were forced to adapt to provide as much support as possible, we also needed to differentiate ourselves from statutory bodies.

We can help with job searches when people face sanctions, we can help navigate the home choice website when people need to find new accommodation. We can not authorise payments or find new accommodation. A phenomena that we phrased “lanyard fear” saw a new type of learner approach us, sometimes out of desperation and a lot of the time out of anger. Our purposeful move to a less formal dress code allowed us to show our commitment to informal adult learning.

In these times where all organisations have to adapt, we felt it was important to go back to our mission and values. Why are we here and how can we help? Our hoodies, as well as being comfortable, show the world that we are a team who can offer practical, no-nonsense support despite the challenges faced by us and our learners.

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